Cost of Printer Ink

For the home office and/or sole trader business printing requirements are not always high and hence it makes economical sense to purchase a printer to match this requirement. It is very unfortunate though that printer manufactures charge exorbitant prices for replacement ink cartridges. My most recent experience is that the cost of a replacement set of ink cartridges was considerably more than the purchase price of the new printer complete with a full set of ink cartridges. My experience with using cheaper alternative ink cartridges is that the printer tends to suffer a print head issue whereby it may respond to a standard clean but more likely a deep clean however this at best of late lasts less than 24hrs before it is in the poor to pathetic result category again.
My objective is to gain other readers and users support and to have choice instigate a campaign to get reasonable pricing for these manufacturers replacement ink cartridges.
No realistic person would deny an organisation making a reasonable return on consumables, however what it happening at present is nothing short of a blatant rip off.


Bear in mind that when you buy a new printer the supplied ink cartridges only have a fraction amount of ink in them compared to the big $$$ equivalent. I use to buy the ink and fill the cartridges up myself.


This is the exact reason I bought a laser printer and use generic toner that works fine. It has cut my costs by 75%! :sunglasses:


Totally with you on that Larry17.

The problem for the home user is that by the time you are ready to use your printer, if not a very regular user, the ink has dried out in the jets.
Then, when you attempt to use the printer, you cook the print heads. Or something like that.

Once this happens, no amount of test printing or nozzle clearing will work.
You are up for a new inking sytem and print heads.

That’s why I switched to a little Brother HL-1110 series Laser (Black only).
Cost: $48 (Woolies) and still around that 2 years later. The platen (Google it) doesn’t last very much longer in these than one cartridge does, so guess what - very soon I will be getting another new printer.

I will give this one away as-is, with the new owner responsible for topping up/replacing the cartridge.
Doesn’t mean I like getting ripped off, and what a disaster for the ecology - a mountain of perfectly good printers, and disgraceful business profiteering 50% to blame.
I take 50% of the blame because of my decision to participate in this scam on us, but that doesn’t send any message to the manufacturer.

If you own an inkjet, here is some useful advice:

  • if you do not use it daily, consider switching to a Laser. Lack of regular usage contributes to print head deterioration.
  • turn off between usages - you do not need it to be on standby, which produces heat, and this in turn speeds up the drying and clogging of print heads.
  • do you really need a colour printer? If the cost of ink bothers you, the cost of three colours plus black should bother you more.

I am now allergic to ink-jet printers - they should all be stored at the bottom of a very, very deep well!


Why do you think the printers are so cheap, they always make the money back on the consumables.

If you have an inkjet printer, you must turn it on at least once a week for it to clean and prep the ink heads.

I have an old Epson TX710W to which I installed a Rihac continuous ink system when new and use their inks, while not cheap it has saved me money in the long run, by allowing me to keep the heads clean and not having to pay for expensive original cartridges. Its still going strong after five years.



I agree. However I don’;t have these problems with cartridges I get from I have a Brother DCP-315W and I have to clean the print heads about once every 6 months if that. Printer cost about $50 and I’ve never had any problems with it.

Using the cheap cartridges is supposed to void your printer warranty but at that rice who cares. My printer has been going well for 4 years now. It also scans, copies and does photos.


I absolutely agree and it would be great if Choice could investigate this rort.


Thanks deborah. I heard that Brother had the cheapest cartridges and your experiences seem to confirm that. As a contender for the most expensive I would suggest HP printers The cost in keeping mine up to ink requirements is over the top… John

I, being in similar situation as egkerr, have found the same issues when using generic re-fills. I suppose this is the reason why the original manufacturers can charge whatever they feel like it for their ink cartridges. I have recently changed to a laser printer (Brother MFC 9340CDW), but am remain shy from using generic equivalent due to my previous unpleasant experience (having my last ink-jet ruined after only 1000 prints). I would support Choice to look into this issue for consumers.


I have found that buying at Harvey Norman the prices are much cheaper than online from suppliers. worth shopping around. Bob

When I bought my new Canon MG7160 printer, the original inks had been replaced with two lots of larger compatible inks. These performed fine, so i’ve been buying generic inks on ebay ever since. The tanks are slightly larger than the largest Canon tanks and have chips that the machine recognises without any problems, they work perfectly and the last lot I purchased cost $1.33 per tank including shipping. $12 tanks for $16.00! It’s hard to find one tank of genuine ink for that price (even the smaller sized packs).

I print lots of photos and documents and can’t tell the difference between these printouts and those from my previous Canon printer in which I only purchased genuine ink. The printer is used a lot and is now coming up to two years of age and i’ve saved a fortune during this time.

Not sure why Choice doesn’t do any tests using cheaper ink like this. If everyone started using compatible ink, then the manufacturers might start reducing their ink prices.


Check out our CHOICE Review of compatible ink cartridges and printer buying guide by @sduncombe


I will need to look at the printer buying guide! I bought a printer last year and it was a cheaper one, but (surprise surprise) the ink requires requires refilling regularly and is very expensive.

On top of that, if any of the cartridges is low it’s has an alert which prevents you from printing at all - even if you’re printing from black (from the black cartridge) and the yellow cartridge is low.

We don’t print a lot (in fact, I’ve started going to Officeworks around the corner to print when I need something important printed) because our printer so frequently bars your ability to print unless you have all the cartridges full.


I think this refilling-at-home options sounds good which I will need to look into! If anyone has any tips, that would be ace.

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I just down load onto a USB stick and print at library for 20c…I don’t do a lot of printing.


I think I’ll need to do that more often!!

Not sure if all the compatible inks have improved since the test in 2014, but I did buy some many years ago for an Epson printer and I could tell the difference in quality and it did clog up the heads a lot. That’s why I only used genuine ink on my previous Canon printer. I’ve only changed to buying compatible ink for my latest Canon printer since it initially came with compatibles and printouts compared favourably to my previous printer and they don’t appear to be affecting the performance of the printer either.

@egkerr, I completely agree with the need for a Choice campaign. YES YES YES.
The workarounds are fine but shouldn’t be necessary if the price gouging on cartridges was stopped.The fact that sound printers are tossed in the rubbish because of the cost of inks is a HUGE issue.
Like you, I find the printer manufacturers incorporate ‘gotcha devices’ in their printers to stop you using generic cartridges. Surely this is an anti-competitive measure!

The last time I ordered ink from Dell, (the LAST time!) I didn’t realise I was on the US site until I went to check out.But amazingly, the cartridges were only about $20! Of course, it wouldn’t let me buy it from that site so I went to the Aussie site and guess what…they were $80!!! I know we get ripped off down here but REALLY? That is ridiculous.

I have also bought a laser printer and so far, so good.

We did the same and use non-genuine toner which works well. Genuine high capacity toner is about $60-70 per cartridge whereby can buy equivalent non-genuine, comparable toner online and deliver for less than $10 per cartridge.

Your “most recent experience” illustrates the “Gillette Principle” - 'give 'em the razor and sell ‘em the blades’. BTW your new printer does not come with “a full set of ink cartridges”. They are 50% full at best and probably quite a bit less.
I buy my printer cartridges online for about $2 each and have very little trouble with them or the print head. if your needs are for high quality printing I guess you’ll just have to pay the price of the things to do it. I do agree that the RRP for cartridges is outrageous.