To help bring even better value to customers, we’ve just introduced a new range of 2,000 compatible printer ink and toner cartridges – they’ll print just as well, for less money.
What is a compatible cartridge?
Our range of 2,000 compatible ink and toner cartridges are designed to work on your printers, but aren’t made by the printer manufacturer or its affiliates. Instead they are produced by independent third parties.
We use ‘compatible’ products all the time in everyday life. We buy supermarkets’ dishwasher tablets instead of the expensive ones recommended by the manufacturer. We use windscreen wipers that aren’t from the company that made our car.
We do this because we get the quality we want, but at a lower price. Why treat printers any differently?
Why are compatible cartridges cheaper?
Let’s call the printer companies OEMs – original equipment manufacturers. OEMs make printers and cartridges. That means at least two sets of research and product development teams, two types of industrial tooling and factories, multiple components and so on.
Compatibles manufacturers don’t have to do this. They only need to make cartridges, not printers. They don’t spend money developing new products, but reverse engineer existing ones. This means much lower overheads and lower costs to you. (This can include ‘remanufactured’ models, where used cartridges are given a new lease of life by being refreshed and refilled.)
Plus, printer manufacturers are global technology companies spending millions and millions each year. They make all sorts of products in many different industries, from digital cameras to cash registers.
With fingers in so many pies, we can assume that everything they sell has to contribute towards the R&D, manufacturing and advertising costs for the entire corporation.
Yes, OEMs will argue they make higher-quality products. But might you be paying extra to fund an advertising campaign half way across the world, or a factory making something you’ve never heard of?
Businesses making compatible cartridges don’t need to run a global ad campaign or pay scientists to develop new inventions. That money saved is money in your pocket.
Can I be sure that compatible cartridges will work? Are they safe to use?
Yes. UK Office Direct only sells compatible cartridges because they are a good value, good quality alternative. (Plus all our products are backed by our guarantee.) Still, let’s discuss why people continue to ask this question.
It’s in the interests of printer manufacturers to make customers believe their cartridges aren’t just the best option, but the only one. This is understandable.
OEMs use the razor/razor blade model, invented by King Camp Gillette (founder of the shaving brand). Gillette realised his profit wasn’t in selling razors, but razor blades. You can’t use one without the other. Sell the first cheaply and make money on the second.
In the same way, OEMs must make far more profit selling printer ink, than printers. (In fact, the ink is more expensive than champagne.) To the OEM, a customer buying a printer is just like them buying a razor.
The problem for OEMs is you don’t have to buy their razor blades. You can use any compatible cartridge you want.
This could be partly why OEMs warn us that third-party inks might damage our printers or affect warranties. It’s also another reason for printers to display ‘error’ or ‘warning’ messages when people use compatible cartridges. They want you to keep buying OEM ink.
(If you’re thinking about warranty warnings, Which? says “unless it can be shown that the ink has caused the fault, you should still have the rights to get a repair or replacement. “ Bear in mind that compatibles manufacturers would go out of business if they affected printers in this way.)
Is there any benefit to buying OEM ink or toner?
Yes, but it may not be the benefit you expect. We’ve already covered the argument that OEMs could say they have higher quality cartridges, toners and inks. They believe their own ranges represent the best-in class.
Here’s another angle.
Think of OEM ink and toner as being like a hamburger from a global restaurant chain. It’s a good product, but its true selling point is that it tastes exactly the same all over the world. If you’re in an unfamiliar place and want something familiar, you eat one of those burgers.
OEM printer cartridges are similar. They are ultimately about consistency. One brand’s cartridges will be made in the same factories, using the same materials and the ink will be made to the same formula.
Compatible cartridges will work on your printer and produce excellent results. But because there are different manufacturers, each will use their own factories and have a different formula for their inks. This may mean subtle differences between makers, yet they are still compatible and designed to be as good as any OEM cartridge.
If you’re unsure about this, do your own tests. Use our ink and toner finder and buy compatible cartridges to print all documents that will stay in the office. Use OEM for any letters that are going to customers or clients, so they will have the ‘best’ version.
Do a few print runs and check results. By judging compatible cartridges purely on their quality – not on advertising or error messages – we think you’ll find compelling reasons to keep buying them.
Remember, this isn’t a straight comparison between OEM and compatible, since one is more expensive than the other. You’re comparing performance for the price. That’s where compatible cartridges win.
Over time, the OEM premium may add up to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. If a compatible offers the same quality, or gets so close people don’t notice, is the premium worth it?
That’s up to you. If you believe that OEM ink and toner offers peak performance, stay with it. You have all their R&D knowledge going into their cartridges. That’s also the right decision. It’s about whatever works for your business and your budget.
But to find out for sure, why not explore our new range of 2,000 compatible ink and toner cartridges? This is about you having the freedom to buy the supplies you want.