2020-09-04

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3 Steps in Choosing Professional Ink & Toner Cartridges: Remanufactured vs Refillable vs Compatible

Buying cartridges again and again can be a pain, especially when OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or genuine cartridges are expensive. 

If you’re reading this, you may be looking for cheaper alternatives of great quality. You want to save money. But at the same time, you don’t want to get duped.  

When one would search for alternative cartridges (remanufactured, refillable or compatible) in Amazon or Google, hundreds of brands and shops will appear. All of them would be 30-75% cheaper than OEM cartridges.

Why are Alternative Cartridges Cheaper?

OEM cartridges are the manufacturers' profit. To cover up research and development costs, they use the blade-and-razor business model. This means they underprice razors (printers) to encourage customers to buy. Then they sell blades (cartridges) with high prices to cover the losses. 

For example, AustinMcConnell shared in his Youtube video, “Ink Cartridges Are A Scam”, that in his time as a tech customer support, a printer can have a manufacturing price of $105 and a retail price of $75. An ink cartridge can have a manufacturing price of $00.23 and a retail price of $59.95. 

But Cheap isn’t Enough 

Depending on the company, their cartridges can be what you'll regret buying: low quality ink and improper cartridge fit that leads to leaks, waste and possible problems to your printer.

The cheaper the alternative cartridge, the cheaper the quality.

What you're looking for are professional alternative cartridges that will work smoothly with your printer, give great print and help you save money. In companies that sell quality alternative cartridges, they use toner and ink that are similar to the original brands without violating patents.So what can you do to have your cake and eat it too?

Buy alternative cartridges: remanufactured, refillable or compatible.

(Note: Your warranty won't be voided because of using alternative cartridges. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act protects your right to use third-party cartridges.)

Step 1: Decide Over Refillable Cartridge vs Remanufactured Cartridge vs Compatible Cartridge

What Alternative Cartridge is Right for You? Remanufactured Cartridge, Refillable Cartridge, Compatible Cartridge.


Please note it would also depend if the alternative cartridges are available in your cartridge models. 

A. Remanufactured Cartridge

Remanufactured cartridges are recycled OEM cartridges from recycling programs. According to Energy Central, more than 375 million ink and toner cartridges are dumped in landfills per year. Recycling and remanufacturing cartridges alleviates the bulk of non-biodegradable waste.

These cartridges are carefully selected for high performance and undergo a high power cleaning process with demineralized water. They are then mechanically filled with ink or toner. Their old cartridge chips are then replaced with new ones.

Once the cartridges have passed printing tests and quality checks, they are then cleaned and professionally packed and sealed for shipment.

If you’re environmentally-conscious, remanufactured cartridges may be the right one for you.

B. Refillable Cartridges

There are many ways to refill in ink or toner:

  1. Cartridge Refilling Service: You can find if there are local services near you or go to stores such as Office Max, Costco and Walgreens. Don’t forget to check if the service supports your cartridge model.

  2. Buy Ink or Toner by Bulk: This can go in two ways

    1. Buy Refillable models of your Ink Cartridges: Many online ink and toner shops have available refillable cartridges for different cartridge models. They may come with a chip resetter since you will still need your OEM’s cartridge chip to work. 

    2. Re-use Your Ink or Toner Cartridges: There are many tutorials available in Youtube on how to refill your cartridges. You will need to buy an ink/toner refilling kit to assist you in case you need to drill a hole or syringe ink into the cartridge

Ink Refilling Kit.

C. Compatible Cartridge

Compatible cartridges are brand new cartridges made by third party manufacturers. They are designed according to the OEM cartridge model for utmost compatibility.

Step 2: Four Things to Look For to Guarantee Professional Alternative Cartridges

Once you have an idea of which alternative cartridge you prefer, it’s time to Google search if they are available in your cartridge models.

If there are, congrats. It’s time to screen the shops and sellers. Here are 4 things to look for to guarantee professional alternative cartridges. 

#1 The Years the Company has been in Business

A quick visit to the About Us page can confirm how long they have been running their business.

Rule of the thumb, the longer the company has been in business, the more dependable are their products. It shows that millions of loyal customers have bought again and again because the quality of their cartridges are consistent.

#2 Does the Company have Reliable Customer Service?

In the small margin that product quality is not consistent, a company will back it up with service to help the customer. 

A customer should not be stuck with a lemon. This is where the company's chat or phone customer service comes in.

The support can instruct the customer what to do to make the product work as the printer's updates may hinder the operation upon recognition of third party cartridges or used cartridges. 

If all attempts fail, the customer can then return the product to get their money back or have it replaced for free. This would be all recorded with a ticket number for proper documentation and clear communications between the company's branches.

#3 Check their Guarantee

A strong product guarantee shows that the company is confident of their product quality.

Ink and toner cartridges have a shelf life of two years. Some shops have a 2-year guarantee. Others have a 1-year guarantee. 

Keep in mind to also check the number of days that you would get your refund or replacement in case your purchased cartridges won't work.

#4 Compare Reviews

This is an obvious but often overlooked advice especially when people are in a hurry to purchase and have the cartridges delivered soon.

If you'll scroll down a product page, you may find 5-star reviews first. That's good. But take the time to check the 1–3 star reviews. What were their most common complaints that they gave the product a low rating? Is it something you can risk?

Step 3: Buy

Once you've decided the alternative cartridge and the store, you're good to go. By putting all the research today, you'll find a dependable store that you can keep coming back to in the future.

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