Many people, when they think of buying ink or toner cartridges, have a binary kind of position – original cartridges are expensive and compatible ones will ruin their printer and destroy the fabric of society as well.
It’s not quite as black and white as that, though, and if you know what you’re doing, you can buy compatible cartridges safely and save money.
Original cartridges are made by the same manufacturer as your printer, whereas a compatible, or third party, cartridge is made by a different manufacturer. It will be, however, made to the same specs as the originals.
A compatible cartridge should be just as safe and reliable as an original, but you need to make sure you buy it from a well-regarded retailer that has good reviews. If you choose carefully, you will save money by using compatible cartridges, but do your homework first.
Why are compatible cartridges cheaper than originals?
Genuine, or original, cartridges have to be sold at a profit by the manufacturer, as it has put the money, time, effort, research and development into designing and making them. The company has to make some of the money back, so these consumables are sold high. Compatible manufacturers don’t have these overheads, so they can make their cartridges much more cheaply.
Am I paying less just to get poorer print quality, though?
No, you shouldn’t be. The compatible manufacturers make sure the ink or toner formulation is almost identical to the originals, so you shouldn’t see any difference at all. If you find that high quality photos, for example, look a bit different, then save your original toner just for them.
Remember, though, buy from a reputable seller – retailers like Cartridge People have good feedback and a good returns policy in case the cartridges don’t work out.
I’m worried that compatible cartridges will affect my printer’s warranty
It’s very unlikely that a single cartridge will break your printer, but in the unlikely event that this happens, an honest supplier will offer a guarantee. Realistically, though, most big compatible retailers will have to deal with an issue like this once a year at most, so it’s pretty safe.
However, if you’re really worried, the fine print goes something like this…
If you bought your printer less than 12 months ago…
Your manufacturer has to give you a one-year guarantee, or else it will fall behind its competitors. If there is a problem caused by a compatible cartridge, it’s up to the manufacturer to prove it; it can’t just refuse to help because you used one.
Ideally, the manufacturer should send an engineer to find out what the fault is and what it’s been caused by. If it’s a machine fault, the manufacturer has to fix it, if it’s a cartridge issue, your ink supplier’s guarantee should cover you.
If you’re in an extended warranty period…
These warranties come from the manufacturer and the terms are determined by the maker as well, so they can legally refuse to help if you’ve used compatibles.
If this happens, ask the manufacturer to look for printer faults; if none are found, go back to your ink supplier and ask for an independent engineer to sort the problem under their guarantee.