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Why Printer Ink Is So Expensive

ink is expensiveKudos to Anne Kadet over at Smart Money. Her latest article about printer ink cartridges titled "Why Printer Ink Is So Expensive" is one of the best analysis we've seen in a long time. Ms. Kadet rightly points out that:

  • average retail price of a milliliter of ink shot up 360 percent between 1999 and 2007. Meanwhile, a $30 ink cartridge costs just three bucks to make; suppliers could cut prices in half and still take in a nice profit.
  • even while printer makers lose about $30 on every $100 printer sale, the typical customer spends more than three times as much on ink over a three-year period as he did on the printer.
  • often, the cheapest models require the most expensive ink.
  • strange quirk in the law that makes it almost impossible to compare long-term ink costs. The 1966 Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, which requires manufacturers to state quantities on consumer packaging, allows just a few exceptions, including lighters, safety pins and—you guessed it—ink. Only one of the major makers, HP, offers page-yield information on its cartridge packaging, and you still have to calculate per-page costs. “Consumers don’t have the right information to make the right choice,” says American Consumer Institute President Steve Pociask, who studies the ink market.