We’ve had people come in to buy an ink cartridge and they have no idea what they need; quite often, they don’t even know what printer they have – and we have even had people who’ve bought an ink cartridge only because it was the “right” brand – and then brought it back later because it did not work with their computer. As recently as last week, we had someone bring back an inkjet cartridge because it has “stopped working” – after six weeks printing 31 pages per day. We assume that you know what you need; if you don’t know what you need, ask someone to help you.
The purpose of this article is to educate you on buying the right ink cartridge…
Some printers use one cartridge to print both black/white and color. Others use four, and still others use six. The best bet when buying the right cartridge for your printer is to look at the user’s manual to make sure what cartridges are compatible. Most are not interchangeable.
If you don’t have the manual, write down the make and model of your printer; and then look it up online (or we can look it up for you). If all that fails, bring your used cartridge with you to match it to what we have in stock.
Capacity – you get what you pay for (usually)
When purchasing ink cartridges or toner you’ll see differences in pricing for what appears to be the same cartridge. This difference is in the capacity of the cartridge; a lower capacity cartridge produces fewer printouts than a high capacity cartridge. When you encounter what appears to be the same cartridge at two different prices, look at the page yield. A low capacity laser cartridge might print 5000 pages and a high capacity cartridge of the same brand will print 12000 pages. Comparably, a low capacity inkjet cartridge might print 170 pages and a high capacity cartridge will print 250.
Inkjet cartridges have an expiration date and some of those cartridges, when they reach that expiration date, will just stop working. The expiration date is printed on the box of all HP ink cartridges and on the ink cartridge itself. You’ll find expiration dates on Epson, Canon, and other popular brands. The only brand that I’ve seen that does not include an expiration date is Lexmark.
Most inkjet cartridges (including HP, Epson, Canon, and Lexmark) are color coded. The color on the casing of the ink cartridge will match the color on the inside of the printer where that ink cartridge is supposed to go.
Using re-manufactured or refilled cartridges
You can buy refilled or re-manufactured ink cartridges and save up to 50% on the cost of ink. You can also buy refill kits and refill your own (if you choose to do that, be aware that it can be a messy job). Depending on how and why you use the printer that might work for you.
Reasons to NOT use refilled or re-manufactured cartridges include:
- It might void the warranty on the printer; read your manual.
- Refilled cartridges sometimes leak inside the printer (and on your hands)
- The ink may not be the same and you may not get the same quality.
If you want the best quality, stick with the ink that comes from your printer manufacturer. Sure, you can save money using refurbished ink cartridges but in most cases, you get what you pay for.
Our policies regarding ink cartridges
- If you buy from us on a regular basis, we will stock the ink cartridge that you use (we don’t stock everything)
- If it isn’t in stock, we’ll order it on our next order (if you ask)
- If you need it NOW, we can usually get it tomorrow – but special order items will also have a shipping/handling fee attached
- We don’t sell ink cartridges that are expired. We check our shelves on a monthly basis and anything that is nearing expiration (six months) is either reduced for quick sale or removed from the shelf.
- We don’t take back ink cartridges (that includes inkjet and toner) or other consumables. Neither does anyone else.