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May 29, 2006

HP Ink Cartridges: 35 Times More Reliable*

Filed under: Computers,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:26 am

HP ink cartridgesComputer printer companies practically give away their printers because they know they will make the real money by selling high-priced replacement ink cartridges.They are not fond of no-name companies that sell refilled cartridges at much lower prices. One way to get consumers to buy the name brand is to tout its superiority. HP claims in this ad that its cartridges are “35 times more reliable than bargain ink cartridges.*”

*MOUSE PRINT: “Based on a 2005 Inkjet Cartridge Reliability Comparison Study by QualityLogic, Inc. and commissioned by HP. Testing performed on HP 45, HP 56, HP 57 , and HP 78 Inkjet print cartridges compared to leading remanufacturer brands.” [Boston Globe Magazine, May 22, 2006]

The footnote goes on to refer the reader to the full details of the study , and other information. They tested 50 of their own cartridges, and 30 of each of 13 other refilled brands. The results: 2% of the HP cartridges had a problem, while 70.3% of the other brands failed in some respect. Presumably this is how HP came up with the claim that they are 35 times more reliable.

Trouble is, HP is using failure rates to mathematically support their reliability claim. More appropriately, if they wish to make claims about reliability, they should be looking at the reliability rate of their cartridges compared to the reliability rate of competitors. Flipping their test statistics, HP cartridges were reliable 98% of the time, while competitors’ cartridges were reliable 29.7% of the time. HP could and probably should have said their new cartridges have over three times the reliability of refilled cartridges. Still, that is a genuine advantage to boast about, but it is not the claimed 35 times advantage over the competition.


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  1. Another money-making gimic is that used by Dell. If you buy a new flat screen as my wife did recently and accept their offer of a “free” new Dell printer, you end up having to buy replacement cartridges from Dell, since the Dell cartridges are not sold in retail outlets. The Dell cartridges are quite expensive and do not seem to last as long as those used in her old Epson printer. If the Dell cartridges were sold in office supply houses such as Staples or Office Depot, they would undoubtedly be less expensive.

    The situation has us to consider buying a new printer from another reputable manufacturer whose replacement cartridges can be purchased at stores like those cited above.

    Any other recommendations you might have would be very gratefully appreciated.

    Comment by Thomas A. Julian — May 29, 2006 @ 9:48 pm
  2. This is yet another case where the footnote does not clarify the claim, but contradict it. If a company makes a false claim, it’s still a false claim even if there’s a footnote admitting that it’s false.

    Comment by Wayne — May 29, 2006 @ 10:12 pm
  3. I have re inked the 15 a number of times with no probles, the 78 had few problems.

    Comment by Norman — May 29, 2006 @ 11:51 pm
  4. Hp Ink is my favorite as well still using my Hp injet 895 CSE which
    is from 98 still runs great while printing great photos

    Keep up the great work

    Comment by Ellen Pringle — May 30, 2006 @ 12:29 am
  5. RE: ARTICLE ON DELL’S MONEY MAKING GIMIC ON PRINTER CARTRIDGES REPLACEMENT……….Thanks for the info on the Dell printer. A year or so I purchased my new Dell computer with the added incentive of free new printer, so I gave my favorite HP printer away. Regretably, since every time I replace my black and color cartridges I have no alternative to shop around. It must be Dell, and expensive. I am furious about this to the point I tell everyone don’t buy a DELL. I am so chagrined about what I consider deception I want everyone to know. Thank goodness for your article today which has given me the chance to tell all your customers about my experience!!!!!!

    Comment by Beverly J. Hill — August 1, 2006 @ 12:57 am
  6. You want a real shocker about the Dell printers I’ve learned. They are re-labeled Lexmark printers. Dell had Lexmark change the tops of their cartridges so users of the “Dell” printers couldn’t use the retail Lexmark cartridges. Yes the only difference is the top of the cartridge.

    In the past Compaq, Kodak and I believe at least one other company used Lexmark printers but did not have this modification so you could go to your local retailer and pop in a standard Lexmark cartridge.

    I would NEVER buy Dell after learning of the different sneaky things like this they do!!

    Comment by Bill Leonhard — September 26, 2006 @ 8:42 am
  7. I have been using refills bought at Sam’s club for years. You get about 5 refills for 20 dollars. Compare this to 5×25 for color and 5×25 for black or 250.00

    Comment by Darren — September 26, 2006 @ 8:52 am
  8. If you look around the Net, there’s a tab somewhere in the cartridge holder on the printer that you can break off to make it take a Lexmark cartridge on some Dell printer models. This will certainly VOID YOUR WARRANTY, so be careful, but it can be done if you otherwise would consider the printer to be a paperweight.

    Comment by Chris La Mantia — September 26, 2006 @ 9:15 am
  9. Another way HP (I’m not sure about other manuf.) tries to force you to use their
    cartridges is that it will void the printer’s warrentee if you use anyone elses.

    Comment by Patrick — September 26, 2006 @ 11:23 am
  10. If you want more economical cartidges, do not by an HP printer! Buy a Canon or Epson. HP patented the disposable print heads in their cartridges, so you can’t buy no-name brand new cartridges, only refilled ones. Whereas with Epson and Canon, even the name brand cartridges are cheaper, and you have the option of new (not refilled) cheaper cartridges. For example, I have a Canon i470D. Canon cartridges are $18 (color) and $7 (black) at Staples, or I can buy cartridges for $9 and $4.50.

    Comment by Cathy — September 26, 2006 @ 1:34 pm
  11. Actually the statement in the ad is perfectly reasonable.

    What’s important is how often you’ll experience a defective cartridge, and you’ll do that 35 times more often with somebody else’s (if their study is accurate).

    Comment by m c — September 26, 2006 @ 2:41 pm
  12. I worked for Lexmark technical support before they moved my job to India. It is true that the real profit is from the ink sales. It is also true that refilled carts will eventually fail. The way they work is there is a small heating element on the cartridge that is supposed to last long enough to use the ink that is origionally in the cartridge. They will last longer, and you can refill sometimes up to 3 times. If you do use a refill cartridge, don’t let your tech support know. Lexmarks policy was to void your tech support if you let it slip that you were using a refilled cartridge. Since you have to register before you can get the support, the note will be put in your records, and even if you call back later, they will refuse to help you.

    Comment by Don — September 26, 2006 @ 3:24 pm
  13. I don’t know why people are shocked that Dell printers are really Lexmark. Dell doesn’t make printers. They don’t make computers. They ASSEMBLE computers. They make nothing. They don’t make the monitor. The hard drive. The case. The keyboard. The mouse. The memory. The motherboard. The CPU. Nothing! And often they don’t have the true manufacturer’s name on it, but rather Dell.

    I do agree with the orginal post. HP didn’t accurately represent reliability. Mouse print is more correct. The real problem is you have to define reliability. Is one misprinted page a failure? Or is if the whole cartridge dies suddenly. If the colors aren’t really right is that a failure? So, reliability is subjective depending on what you consider a failure.

    Comment by Tom — September 26, 2006 @ 9:23 pm
  14. What I like about this ad is their creative use of the numbers. Just another example of making the numbers say what you want. IE: Little Timmy eats 29 bags of potato chips per day, little Sue eats 1 bag. Results: The average kid eats 15 bags a day. The numbers don’t lie !!

    Comment by Mike — September 27, 2006 @ 10:35 am
  15. Patrick said “Another way HP (I’m not sure about other manuf.) tries to force you to use their cartridges is that it will void the printer’s warrentee if you use anyone elses.”

    This is completely untrue – see which says “Using refilled print cartridges alone does not affect either the warranty or any maintenance contract purchased from HP for its HP Inkjet printers. However, if an HP Inkjet printer fails or is damaged because you used a modified or refilled HP Inkjet print cartridge, the repair will not be covered under the warranty or by the maintenance contract. Instead, standard time and material charges will be applied to service the printer for that particular failure or damage.
    CAUTION: Damage resulting from the modification or refilling of HP cartridges is specifically excluded from coverage in HP printer warranties.”

    So… using refilled cartridges does not void the warranty. If your refilled cartridge causes damage that damage will not be covered under warranty.

    Comment by Bob — October 1, 2006 @ 8:09 pm
  16. Hi .. this is a brilliant find. Thanks for
    sharing the great info with me.
    What’s interesting for me is the more
    I read your stuff the more I find this
    blog (post) so helpful……
    Also it’s great to read other
    people’s posts……

    Comment by Foto Ink — October 3, 2006 @ 4:31 am
  17. That’s exactly why I always donate my printer when the ink cartridges are empty and just buy a new printer.

    Comment by William — October 11, 2006 @ 8:09 am
  18. I had a HP Office Jet R-40 and the carrage belt went on it so, I went to the HP site to buy the part and guess what they do not sell parts for that model anymore (TO OLD) the printer is 3 years old and what the heck are parts for? Older items.
    I will never and I mean never buy anything that HP/Compac makes, I bought a Canon printer and I love it, the ink cartridges are a 1/3 the price of HP and it prints a heck of a lot better. Also there teck support is great, try getting a hold of an HP tech

    Comment by Kaz — November 14, 2006 @ 12:23 am
  19. Hi I was reading you comment on the Dell printer and Dell in
    general I totally agree but I have a Dell printer 720 and
    it isnt a great thing but I couldnt get the ink because I
    didnt have a credit card so I went to staples and they sell
    ink for dell printers they have them all and they are $23.00
    it’s expensive but they have them.

    Comment by silvia — January 8, 2007 @ 4:48 pm
  20. Refill ink cartridges. Please, I’ve tried this more times than I like to admit to. Every time I had to toss the refills. I even tried doing the self-refills. What a mess, they leaked and caused real problems with my Hp printer. I’ll stick to the OEM replacements. I never had a problem.

    One thing you could look into is the original cartridges that come with the printer. They are less than full, I’ve checked the ones that came with my 810cse and 750psc printers. My quess is that they are only 1/3 full. One way to get you to start buying new ones sooner.

    Comment by John — February 14, 2007 @ 1:17 am
  21. My new HP 1200d (replacement for a 990cse that worked great for 3 years)
    has a new way to get you to buy more cartridges. The cartridges will
    not install if they are older than x months beyond the expiration date.
    The 1200 uses 3 color and 1 B&W cartridge. I bought replacement cartridges
    for all so that there could “never” be an emergency. So, right in the middle
    of a client presentation, the yellow cartridge needed to be replaced. I
    smugly replaced the cartridge — but it still wouldn’t print. Turns out,
    after a little reading of web blasts, that the 1200d printer won’t let you install
    a cartridge that it decides is “too old” even if, as in my case,
    other older cartridges are in the same printer, working just fine! [I’ve recently
    heard that Epson and Canon have followed suit] . I have not found this
    documented so it must be written smaller than mouse print. Just infuriating…

    Comment by Cindy — July 18, 2007 @ 1:31 pm
  22. I’ve purchased refill kits over the years… I’ve had pretty good luck with the black refills, but not with the colour. That said, they’re never like new, but in a pinch I’m glad to have the workaround.

    If its a photo or critical document, I go for new cartridges… I’ve been happy with the results with new cartridges, even if I get a bit peeved at the expense…. but whatever happened to the paperless office, anyway?

    And… (see Comment by William — October 11, 2006) my last printer purchase was prompted by finding that the purchase price of a NEW printer, allbeit on sale, was less than the cost of purchasing two new printer cartridges. HAH!!!

    Comment by Jim — November 22, 2007 @ 6:54 am
  23. I really have a hard time believing the HP study. Re manufactured ink and toner is a huge boon for all the printer companies. Epson, HP and Canon and some others have within the last year relented their legal antics against toner remanufacturers. Epson and HP have said that drill and fill in a bad refill process that can ruin a printing device. Some remanufacturers are poor quality but I have been using products for over 3 years with out one single issue, and did have some issue with HP cartridges purchased from a local retail chain for several laser printers. I am a stout believer in using remanufactured toner and ink cartridges. has a multi million dollar research facility to create and test all products they release.

    Comment by Rich — January 18, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

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