Are refilled inkjet cartridges worth it? Probably not.

If you have a printer you have undoubtedly had that moment of sticker shock going to buy ink for it. Manufacturer inkjet cartridges are pretty darn expensive considering what they do. For my Canon MX340 for example, buying a complete set of color and black ink cartridges can run around $50. Considering that a new printer with similar or even better features – with full ink tanks to boot – might cost $70 on sale, it’s no wonder that Goodwill is full of old printers.

Enter inkjet refills. There are plenty of places that will refill your empty cartridges for you or sell you re-manufactured or refilled units at half the price of a manufacturer’s product. It seems like a no-brainer to go with the cheaper alternative. However cheap isn’t always good.

There are several things to keep in mind before buying refilled cartridges. First, know that manufacturers don’t want their cartridges refilled. The cartridges today have microchips installed that keep track of ink level and let you know when to replace the cartridge. These chips cannot be reset though, so when you buy a used but full cartridge it will always show up as empty. If you don’t mind constant reminders to change your ink that might not be enough to deter you. The second thing you need to know is that the utility of these refilled cartridges is spotty at best. On a much older printer I was able to refill my own cartridges without much trouble and print quality was OK. However with my last two printers refilled or re-manufactured cartridges have not worked at all. Print quality was horrible, with lines all through my images.

bad-google

scan of printed color image using a refilled cartridge in my Canon MX340 – no way, dude

This doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same experience I had – some users have noted that their particular make of printer works fine with refilled cartridges, and others say that they don’t work at all. However even in the best cases the print quality is not as good as brand new. If you print mostly text though, you might not notice much of a difference.

If you want to try a used cartridge, make sure that your dealer or seller has a generous and up-front return policy. Consider my MX340 for example. On two occasions I bought re-manufactured cartridges to try and save some cash.  Both times the print quality was horrible.  I went out and bought a manufacturer cartridge, plopped it in and it printed like a champ. Thankfully I was able to return both defective items quickly and without trouble. The last company I bought from, EZink123, even provided prepaid return shipping.

If you’re willing to take a chance to save some cash by all means try out re-manufactured, but have plan B in place if you’re not satisfied with the result.

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Posted on July 9, 2013, in How To and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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