August 21 2012 by Ellen Roseman
A century ago, Gillette started giving away razors at reduced prices to increase sales of its high-priced blades.
Many years later, wireless phone companies started offering subsidies on new devices to induce customers to sign long-term contracts.
This lowballing strategy is nowhere more evident than in sales of printers and ink. It’s often cheaper to replace a printer than to replace a cartridge.
I recently found my new printer came with a half-empty cartridge, which ran out a few months after purchase. When I wrote about this discovery, I tapped into a deep well of rage about the business model.
One reader sent me to a great infographic, which showed black printer ink as the most expensive liquid at more than $3,000 a gallon.
With one gallon of black printer ink, you can buy 223 bottles of bleach, 139 bottles of olive oil and 98 bottles of vodka.
Despite predictions of a paperless world, we seem to be printing as much as ever. Reading long documents on a screen is no picnic. My desk is full of printouts.
Also, many companies now charge you for mailing paper bills, forcing you to print copies yourself if you need more than an electronic record.
Every conversation ends up with HP, which still dominates the market for printers and ink. A Motley Fool article says HP has a 42 per cent market share, more than the next two competitors combined.
Why does printer ink cost more than blood by volume and more than caviar by weight?
Printer ink is so expensive because manufacturers can make it that expensive. It costs more than it should, says an article by a printing supply company.
Printer sales are in decline because of a combination of mobile devices and cloud storage, says this article at ReadWriteWeb/Cloud.
Seems like everyone writing on this subject has a vested interest. So, I’m turning it over to the you, the consumers, to give your views on what’s wrong and what’s right with the business model of low-priced printers and high-priced ink cartridges.
I’ll post a few readers’ comments below. I also want to mention that HP gave my reader, Brian Smith, two full replacement cartridges to thank him for his inquiry — even after confirming that he was not shortchanged with his purchase of new printers.