Ink Cartridges Are A Scam

Okay, there’s a story. Flashback almost a decade ago, I’m working at an unnamed telemarketing centre as a “technical support assistant” for an unnamed computer company’s laptop division. Y’know when you call customer support and nine times out of ten the person you’re connected to is from a different country, and you can’t understand them, and they can’t understand you? I was that one time in ten when you’d reach somebody from the States and actually get the help you needed much faster. And you might have noticed – if you’ve ever had the misfortune of ever calling into technical support – that they spend around 20% of the time actually fixing your problem and about 80% of the time…trying to sell you stuff. That’s because they’re trained to. The tech company you purchased that laptop from also needs to sell other products to stay afloat, often times overpriced mouses, backup drives… Antivirus software is a big one because it’s easy to get computer-illiterate folks to buy into; Anything to make an extra buck while trying to fix the broken thing that you’ve already shelled out many for. So anyway, one day, I’m sitting at my desk, getting yelled at by an irate customer from Georgia and a note comes across my computer’s alert system. Every few weeks the manufacturer has to liquidate old products, because they’re about to get replaced by new models, and it was our job to try to sell these old products at full retail price to customers unaware they were about to go on sale. A bit shady, but par for the course. The Georgia dude eventually hung up on me and a second later I was connected to a woman in Nevada who had a really simple question: She had just purchased her laptop and she didn’t know how to install her word processor. I quickly walk her through the process, chatting her up to see if I can sell her something, and I learn that she’s about to head to her freshman year of college. [Posh accent] “COLLEGE, you say? Well, dear madam, have you a PRINTER to produce HARD COPIES of all the ENGLISH ESSAYS you’ll be writing?” (I…didn’t actually ask her like that.) “Oh, I…hadn’t thought about getting my own printer.” “WELL THEN, I can order a model this MORNING and have it delivered RIGHT to your DORM on the MORROW!” So I pulled up our internal store page and accessed the printer section. So, a quick little ditty about that page: When I, the tech agent, pulled up a product I was presented with two prices, one in red and one in black. The black number was the retail price: This is how much you would sell the product for over the phone. The red number was the manufacturing price: In other words, how much it cost the company to make that product. Now, why did it tell us this figure, I have no idea. I think it had something to do with the fact that the bookkeeping folks used the same internal system as the retail folks? I-I don’t know, I’m sorry, I get distracted a lot. So I’m scrolling through the different printer models and talking to the girl about all the various features that each one of them offers and at the bottom of my screen I catch a glimpse of replacement ink cartridges and my jaw drops. We were selling packages of standard capacity multi-colour ink cartridges for $59.95, and the cost of manufacturing? 23 cents! I was stunned. I mean, so stunned that I put the Nevada girl on hold and called my supervisor over. I pointed at the screen and asked him, “is that really the cost of manufacturing?” He took a glance at the screen, laughed, then nodded, “yyyyyyyup.” I looked at him in disbelief. “That’s a total scam!” And he said, “Eh. What can you do about it.” Which leads us to today. Today, I am doing something about it. So this is an ink cartridge, and inside of it is printer ink, the most expensive liquid in the world, right behind king cobra venom, scorpion venom, Chanel number five, insulin, and mercury. So first, some disclosure, I’m only gonna be hating on inkjet printers like this one. Laser printers get a pass. This is my mom’s printer. This is about the fifth one that I’ve bought this week. It excels in two areas: Number 1, the ink cartridges always need to be replaced, and number 2, it’s always broken. Seriously, this thing worked for like a hot minute and then I started getting the good ol’ white lines everybody and their cousins probably experienced. I called up technical support myself and the first question they asked me was, “have you replaced the ink cartridges recently?” So let’s talk about the wonderful scam of ink cartridges. Here’s the inside of one of these babies. Pretty easy to manufacture, just some plastic bits, the ink goes here, but they market for about 50 bucks. Now the line that we’re fed is simple: “Ink cartridges are expensive because ink technology is expensive.” HP reportedly spends $1 billion annually to develop printing technology, but what really has changed about these fellows in that time? Actually, not much. Like I said, plastic shell filled with ink. Turns out all that technology is housed in here. Ever notice how these cost usually cost the same amount as these? Doesn’t that seem insane? Well, what if I told you that it was all in the design? You might not know it, but most printers are sold at a loss, and the money is made back from the cost of printer ink. This is a marketing ploy known as the “Razor & Blades Model”, where one item is sold at a low price in order to increase sales of the complementary good, which is often a consumable that must continually be resupplied. In a nutshell, “give ’em the razor, sell ’em the blades.” The ploy here is, “give ’em the printer, sell ’em the ink.” Mark up the price of the consumable, and before too long, the printer itself is paid for. But, turns out the methods used to recoup those costs haven’t always been so noble. Right, so tonnes of ink cartridges are manufactured with this little chip on them. Printer companies like to tell us that this little thing’s purpose is to “monitor the quality of the ink!” “The chip lets you know when your printer is running low on a particular colour!” “The chip can facilitate firmware updates to improve performance!” All of this is baloney. The chip is designed to get you to spend more money. For example, say you’re running low on cyan ink. The chip will tell the printer to stop operating, Even if every other colour type is full, until that single colour is replaced. But here’s the rub: A lot of the time the chip says you’ve got low ink, you actually don’t. False low ink notifications are really, really, common. In fact, the next time you get one you might find that if you take the cartridge and perform a little techno-voodoo to reset the chip, you’ll actually have plenty of ink still inside. What gives?! Imagine if your car’s gas tank had a chip inside of it that forced the vehicle to stop operating completely once you hit half a tank. There would be rioting in the streets because as a consumer, you should have the right to drive that sucker until it’s bone-dry and then refill it at your convenience, right? Well, what if like cars, I could refill my ink cartridges after they’re empty? OhohohoHO, the chip is designed to prevent that as well. Many printing companies designed their chips to detect when the consumer was attempting to refill a used cartridge, and it responded by – you guessed it – disabling the printer completely. In fact, just last year, a major court case over that very issue between Impression Products and Lexmark went all the way to the top and the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the little guy, reaffirming a consumer’s right to repair and modify products after they’ve been purchased. It makes no sense that something like that had to go to the highest court in the land, but in the printing world, exploitation of consumers is the rule of the day. For example, did you know that many printers purposely mix a little cyan ink into every black and white document you print? That’s right, wile you’re thinking, “hey, I’ll just print black and white to save my colour cartridges”, printers are designed to use a bit of colour without telling you, and as we’ve mentioned before, if even one of those cartridges registers as low ink, the entire machine is disabled. [Crowd goes “oh”] Oh, but the companies say this extra little bit of colour gives it a “purer black”. [Distant] “That’s not how it works?!” Oh, and whatever you do, don’t try to circumvent any of these things or if your printer breaks, attempt to make any repairs, because most manufacturers will void your warranty the second you start tinkering around in the internal components. And believe you me, they’ll break. Again, and again, and again. Printer heads will be misaligned, dirty, damaged, dead-on-arrival, and for every diagnostic you run, every test page you print, you’ll be using up those lovely ink cartridges more and more and more and more. You literally get to pay to make sure the thing you’ve already bought still works on a regular basis. Isn’t that great?! Yes, no matter what company you go with, all of printers suffer from the same eye-gouging issues: The ink costs too much, it always needs to be replaced, the printers always have driver issues, wireless never works, the interface on every model is impossible to figure out… Personally, I think it’s time we said enough. Enough with paying a ridiculous amount of money for a product that costs next to nothing to manufacture, a product that doesn’t work half the time, and the other half when it does work, it’s restricted by the manufacturer to make sure you can’t get full use out of it. A product that changes yearly. A product that is designed to stop working and force customers to purchase another product, even if there’s nothing broken about the product in question! Take this thing, for instance. This is my mom’s printer; she uses it to print letters. It wasn’t printing them right so she went out and spent 60 bucks on new ink cartridges thinking that would fix the problem, and after struggling for a day figuring out to install the bloody things, she tried printing the letter again, but the problem still wasn’t fixed. I got to hear about it over the phone. So then I drive about half an hour to get the printer and take it home where I waste the rest of the new cartridges’ ink to run a bunch of inconclusive diagnostics to try and figure out why it’s not printing correctly. By the time I determine that the printer has a common yet for some reason unrepairable hardware issue I discover the cheapest option is to just order a replacement, but I CAN’T order a replacement, because they update their printer models each year, so now I have to go buy the new-and-improved model, and I can’t use the old ink cartridges in this new-and-improved model because the new-and-improved model uses a whole different ink cartridge type, so I have to spend another $50 on these new-and-improved ink cartridges (which, it turns out, just have a slightly longer piece of plastic on the inside) and by the time I get this new and improved printer ready, I discover the new-and-improved printer’s drivers aren’t compatible with my mom’s computer, so I’ve got to go on the printing company’s obtuse website and use their auto-detect tool (which doesn’t work) to try and find a driver that IS compatible, and in order to locate the compatible driver by hand, I have to determine if she’s using a computer that runs on a 32-bit operating system or a 64-bit operating system, which many of you at this point may realise, is not the kind of information that moms usually know the answer to, so by the time we figure THAT all out, and get the printer working properly, we’re left with an obvious question: Why is this still a problem in the 21st century? We shot a CAR into SPACE. I’ve been waiting to do this for a while… [Sighs] That felt better. We can do this, people. Together. Share this video today, and start a revolution. Tell these companies that enough is enough, we want affordable ink, we want printers that work, and we want printers that last. Think I knicked my cheek. Thanks to these Patreon backers for their continued support. Do you want to find more content like this? Then…look harder. I dunno.

100 thoughts on “Ink Cartridges Are A Scam”

  1. Merriam-Webster backs me up, you goobers.
    “plural; mouses : a small mobile manual device that controls movement of the cursor and selection of functions on a computer display” ✌🏻

  2. after watching this i felt like evertyhing is a scam, i buy a noodle for USD2 and the manufacturing cosy is USD1, they scam me USD1

  3. this video makes me want to create an affordable ink company where i sell them for like $5 a pack because at this point i don't care about making money on it i want my damn ink at a low reasonable price for once

  4. My printer list of horror (not for the faint of heart):

    1) The "USB not recognized" error
    2) Thousands of pesos (currency in my country) wasted on each color of the ink of our 2 separate printers.
    3) My stupid sisters had to waste the fricking ink on a school project they've done and ended up losing it and they have to print it again.
    4) The printing stops midway, then suddenly shoots out the half printed paper and send out the warning about ink being empty. What. Also happens when I try cancelling it but then it was too late??? I did it before it prints!!!!
    4) Freaking DRIVEEEERSSSSS
    My mom ended up buying a new printer with cheaper ink cartridges.

  5. Wait what? but why is it so expensive. if the image from 3:19 is correct, then ink is sold 260 times more expensive , that it should be…

  6. alright lets just make presentations theres one thing tech helps us with and we dont need to pay for anything problem solved if your teacher tells you to print out your assignment just give them a flash drive and tell them not to print it and this comment doesnt have any punctuation oh god what am i doing

  7. Buy the printers that refillable. They also come with a few hundred mls of ink. If you look at a normal cartridge in has 10ml or less ink in it. The only draw back is you need to use them at least once per week or they begin to dry up. But, Ive saved thousands with them.

  8. So my new Epson printer have inkjet and for 2 years i just printing black and whitr but magically the printer saying LOW COLOUR INK,AUTO SHUTDOWN even i cant scan paper with this damn thing


  9. this is fantastic…its one of my pet peaves….how far we have come in PCs and computing things…how difficult it still is to go from the screen to a piece of paper.

  10. the fact that you can install a "continuous ink system" on so many printers using the same cartridge it came with for years means the cartridge itself is extremely durable

  11. I did the same thing to my Epson printer after fighting a no print issue after buying multiple cartridges with no results. It was so gratifying to smash it to bits. I have never bought an Epson again. And now I'm trying to fix my daughters Epson and it's very close to becoming a deconstructed printer.

  12. my canon 3070s which i bought yesterday is now broken. I cant turn this thing off without unplugging the power cable. nor turn this thing on because that bloody power light is blinking and fuck there is no troubleshooting about a blinking power light.. this stupid shit isnt really working

  13. Can u say the company so I can call them, get them to try and sell me ink cartridges and I’ll say “actually, I’ll just pay the $00.23 it costed you to make them”

  14. That how I come to purchase Brother laser printers. The toner cartridges lifetime is based on nunber of pages printed, for a standard cartridge is 1500 pages. However, the cartridges have rnough toner on board to print about 7000 pages.
    For each Brother orinter model, there is a way to reset the toner life. However, after a few resets, it is not a good idea of letting the cartridge get complete empty as that can ruin the fuser, so for cartridges that have a sight glass, the presrnce of tomer enable continues use upon horizontal shaking. For cartridges without a sight glass, remove the r ed maining toner from a nearly empty toner cartridge, puit it back together again and weigh it in gramswith a kitchen scale and with this information it is easy to estimate how much toner is left on a toner in grams.
    There is a higher up front cost of a color laser printer on the average but it is less expensive to operate.

  15. i was running low on black and had like 75% color full so i changed black letters to dark blue ones and printed perfectly and when you looking at the paper you cant notice it

  16. Sometimes I feel like certain information is so good that it’s illegal to share… If we don’t hear from you, we know why

  17. Y’ALLLLL YOU GOTTA TRY that spicy epson eco tank printer (it’s the best I love mine, the ink has lasted for almost two years now and none of the colors are have dipped under half way). First off, the clear ink tanks on the side don’t lie, you KNOW how much ink you have. Second, less plastic: the ink comes in bottles and you get a cRAP ton of ink in each, not weird little plastic pieces of junk. Third, well that’s kinda it I just love this printer and I want to share it with the world.

  18. me: buys new ink cartridges
    also me: prints 5 pages of black and white text
    printer: Error. You cannot print. Out of cyan
    me: I only want black and white! And when did I use cyan?!

    printer:f̴̣̰̙͔̦̞͔̬̲̖̌͌͛͗̚e̴̡̳͇̙͇̟̭̎̾͌̕͜è̶͚́͊ḍ̸̛͇͍͆̓̊̀̇̉͘͜ ̸̘͘m̸̲͈̞͕̝͎͉̥̼̌̈́̔è̸̝͖̣̞̽͗͝ ̵̢͕̲͔͖̇̏́̿͌̄̔̊ć̴̞̩̯̩̝̰͎̰̍̈́̃ŷ̴͓̻̮̣͕̤͖a̷̛̗͉̺̫͕͑͗̊̌́̀͌͘͜n̷͉̰̲̱̉̏̾̒̏̚

    ᴎɒʏɔ ɘm bɘɘᎸ

    w̸͖̰̮̓ͅh̸̡̃e̶̩̻̘̝̞̓͗̍͊́̈̓͆̿r̵̛͎͈̥̼̾̈̆͗ȩ̵̠͈͉̎̔ ̴̢̟̘̰̮̱̼͙̺̮̈̌́͒̋ȋ̵̛̗͖͈̟̰̭͕̮̫̘͌s̷̺̏̾͒͋́̃ͅ ̵̢̹͓̮̞̯̳͇́͆̒̂̓́̂ḿ̸̨̬͉̬͈̝͎̲͈̀́y̶͉̤͉̯̭͂̐̓͒̀͠ ̴̡̠̯̈́̽͑̑͒͠c̸̢͙̳̅͋y̶̢̳͈͙̬̞̳͐̍͌̂͑̒̉͝a̷̛̺͙̤͍̳̎̃̀̒̿̀͂̓̎n̵̛͖͓̤͓̭̭̾̋̑̀͘͠͝
    ̸̧͖̭̳͉̭͔̭̋̏̒̆͛̔̕g̷̼̠͕̭̘͙̟͂̓̃̂͂̄̒͝͝į̸̛̹͓̔̂͜͝v̴̛͕̍͒̏̈́̑̄ȇ̸̫͙̟̜̹̋̄ ̴̧̹̞̞̻̃͒̾̿͆̑̉́m̶̥̟̙͔͔̮͕͍͋͋̀̓͆̏͋̈e̷̤̜̿̄̓͊̆͘͜ͅ ̴͉̱̪͍͔̲̀̀͠m̶̡̰̊ỷ̶̨̻͍͉̩͓̭̑͒͒̈͆̔͜ ̶͓̝̣͇̮͑͛͒̀̀̌̄c̵͓̪̦̻͑̃̀͒͛̾͋͒y̵̡̢̨͉̪̬̤̪̤͕̿̃̏́̄͘͠a̴̢̢̲̩̺̰̞̤̣̽͗̃̈̒̇̂̓͝n̶̨̪̪̑͐͛̑͒̐̆̿͐͝ͅ

  19. I wonder how fast HP or another printer company would sue my company if i would ever invent an honest, good for enviroment printer for which you can reuse the cartridges. Probably would sue me for "unfair competition" or some bullshit.

  20. Meh…it's borderline as in technically legal. Capitalism is not embezzlement or fraud. So many items are marketed with the razor blade method.
    Also…think about cars and kelly blue book value. You pay $20 grand. Car is worth $3000 as soon as you drive it off the lot. Clearly not fair? You're right. It isn't.
    Alternatively on the note of cartridge ink you can get your ink cartridge refilled now for a mere fraction of the price.
    Don't be mad. It's a waste of both your time and your energy which are worth far more. Just become a smarter consumer. It's all you really can do-right? Makes me personally question retail theft far less. Just being honest. Don't steal. Just have some empathy for those far less fortunate. Ok. That's my 2cents.

  21. I dont get why everyone always complains about the cost of ink. Just buy a new printer when the ink runs out- Its cheaper in the long run even when companies like HP and Brother only fill them half way with the printer you buy. (Yes they really only fill it half way on the ink included with your new printer) think about it. ink-$50 new printer-$25 plush you get a new warranty everything. That reminds me- Anyone need a printer? I have like 10 no ink. No joke.

  22. I came to this video to not even watch it. Only to come and yell at you, in the most sarcastic and/or insulting method possible, "Well, DUUUUUUUUH!!!!" If you want to wake up the sheeple, you need to actually wake up BEFORE they do. Its too late. Everyone KNOWS the ink carts are the scam. But now, everyone already just accepts this as how things are. Tough. Beans. Its not even like there aren't alternatives if you are willing to put in enough effort either. So yeah. Go find a time machine and complain to an era that might actually still be asleep.

  23. I miss the good old 90's when you could print a page in just blue color if the black cartridge was empty :'(

  24. So… why aren't any companies selling refillable ink cartridges and printers that can use them? You don't need a government license for selling printers or ink, right? Hell, if we can legally tamper with the products, then the private electronic shops could even "crack" the printers or cartridges to do what we want them to do.
    Yeah, keeping the prices high is obviously profitable for the big companies, but for every big company with overpriced shit there's always a small company selling cheap off-brand goods which work exactly the same as the original. And just imagine a small company that would "invent" refillable ink cartridges and started selling the ink 200 TIMES(!) cheaper than the big companies. Their products would be selling like hotcakes.
    So since that doesn't happen there must be an explanation. Either there's some kind of conspiracy which prohibits small companies from selling refillable ink cartridges legally or through some other kind of threats. Or the process of making such cartridges and printers is so incredibly complicated that it's simply impossible for any small company to develop them on their own.

  25. people should stop printing documents as often as possible, it also saves paper and power. No one should own a printer alone. Copy shops are more efficient

  26. So you're saying that there is no justification for charging 10x the price of the most expensive champagne on the market per fluid oz.

  27. I always buy my ink on eBay bulk and really cheap for no brand ink, it’s the best does the same job no issues at all!! 😍

  28. Why can't we pour ink in like gas? There's no reason for computers, cars found a way to gauge the gas levels without chips in every refill.

  29. unfortunately i have a brother printer where the carts dont have reset buttons for the chip, so i decided to take a chip from a new cart and use that. BAD IDEA. now i cant use the new cart because the old and new chip say empty.

  30. I still don’t understand how HP supposedly invest so much money in Ink/Print technology..
    How advanced can you make it??
    Feed the paper, instruct the head to go from left to right and release the correct ink colors at the right time.. (Not particularly rocket science anymore..)

  31. Recently my hp printers been saying I've been using counterfeit cartridge when i legit bought them from their authorized shops like?? ? ? What do they wanted me to do? ? ?

    Also the unnecessary ‘test print’ at the beginning of everytime I run my printer is just utter dumb, not just it wasted the ink, it also wasted so many papers when I'm trying so hard not to kill more trees, and if there's no more trees, we will run out of oxygen, and isn't it clear by now that the printer companies actually trying to wipe out the entire human population through the seemingly innocent printers. Unbelievable.

  32. When I was in college, the advice was to just go buy a new printer if you ever ran out of ink because it was cheaper than replacing the ink, and new printers (at least then) came with ink in it.

  33. What do you think of the HP Instant Ink program? I pay $2.99 for 50 pages a month. Also has rollover pages. If you need more pages, you can get larger plans. When you run out of ink, they mail you more at no extra charge. I have noticed that the ink cartridges last way longer than the ones you buy in the store, so obviously they have quite a bit more ink in them so HP doesn't have to mail new ones as often. One of the coolest things is they actually mail the ink to you BEFORE you run out. $36 a year and you never have to buy cartridges again. I actually have been expecting HP to discontinue the program because it saves me so much money. I'm sure it's not for everyone, esp. if you print a ton of pages, but it's been great for me.

  34. If you're at university – use their printers.
    If you're not at university – use a local library, post office or other public vicinity.
    Not as convenient, but way, WAY cheaper, and saves you time in the long run.

  35. I've bought a printer from a manufacturer that i've never heard about for like 200$ to print and scan many documents for a company. After a year and over 30k of printed pages (it's a laser printer that can only print in black) it asked to refill the ink tank. The price of the ink for another 30k of pages was like 10$ (for a 1 kg can of ink).

    So the conculsion is: the cheaper printer from a common manufacturer with more fancy stuff the higher ̶c̶o̶s̶t̶ scam for ink and maintenance.

    At this moment i'm paying much more money for a paper and electricity.

  36. I still stubbornly run a hp photosmart that I bought almost 10 years ago. God knows how, but despite upgrading to new windows OS twice, everything on it still works except for airprint to apple devices. It takes off-brand ink cartridges with only a little text box warming, and I usually get pages printing in the wrong colour well before it ever tells me it's out of ink. I guess whatever part of the software it is that decides to break printers must have been the part of mine that broke…

  37. I know this video is true (being in IT myself), but can't help wonder why no manufacturer (even a new one) hasn't decided to change that model? They're not getting 100% of their customers buying genuine cartridges so wouldn't it be more beneficial to the end user and manufacturer to be upfront in the first place… make an ink jet printer – sell it for double the price, 100% markup for instance. Sell cartridges for pennies or even just a couple of quid. This would be the most popular ink jet on the market and blow the competition away, and totally do away with the incredibly annoying chip since the manufacturer has already got their profit! I wont have ink jets – not owned one for years… only lasers! I would personally buy a printer using that model… who's laughing in the long run? Someone using "compatible" ink for £10 as the originals are £30+ on their cheap printer, or someone who overpaid on the printer – but buying ORIGINAL cartridges for just a couple of quid, with no need for the counterfeit chip since "compatibles" wont ever be an issue.

  38. I have tamed my HP printer, I have had it for over a decade. I refill the cartridges myself with cheap toner and reset them whenever the printer won't recognize them for doing it; then I buy new ones every 5 years or so. Man, I'll never get a new model. Fuck all printer companies.

  39. those 7k thumb down are all the HP and Epson and Lexmar retail employees trying to debunk this, which is true, it is all a farce! hahaha i hated selling printers when i worked retail back in the day because it was straight up scamming clients for a POS that wasn't even a need. Also, did you know that most printers internals are meant to last that one year of use so that you are force to upgrade?… that is why most of the components are cheap plastic (white plastic which doesn't last as long) …. think about that for a minute before wasting your money on them :/

  40. Easy thing

    99.5% OF THE TIME YOU DON'T NEED A PHYSICAL PRINTED DOCUMENT. A digital document is incredibly flexible and comfortable and can be instantly shared.

  41. The chip stops you refilling the chip. So I purchased 4 dud chips and swapped them. Then I refilled the ink from the bottles I purchased

  42. What about laser printers? I have HP LaserJet or something like that and it does not require any ink but only goes in black and white.
    Fair enough.

  43. @8:48 Thank goodness you can flush the printer head manually with cleaning solvent. It cost ya from 5 to 9 bucks and lasts for approx. 20 applications. This stuff is dirt cheap compared to actual ink. 🙂

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