Do Toner Cartridges Really Deliver the Promised Number of Copies?

HMC, a regular reader, recently described a problem he had buying generic toner cartridges for his HP printer. For years he spent over $200 for a single Hewlett Packard 26X toner refill worried that using an off-brand would damage his device. Over time and after spending thousands of dollars on HP-branded cartridges, HMC finally came to his senses and decided to cut his toner costs by 90% by buying a generic brand instead.

toner cartridge

Just like the name brand, the Aztech cartridges he now purchases promise 9,000 copies at 5% density. But to double-check, HMC always uses a feature of his HP printer that calculates how much toner is left in a cartridge and how much was already used. So, after a recent batch of toner was delivered from Amazon, he put each of the two brand new Aztech cartridges in his printer to test and got a surprising result.


Print counter

It showed that the cartridges only had enough toner to yield approximately 7,200 prints, not the 9,000 the package and the Amazon listing promised. Whenever he previously tested new, genuine HP cartridges, as well as prior orders of Aztech toner, his printer always reported the full 9,000.

HMC called Amazon, and after some negotiation, he got a full refund for the cartridges and he didn’t even have to return them. He’ll probably try a different generic brand next time around.

The lesson here, dear reader, is if your printer has a counting function to calculate toner capacity, use it every time you install a new cartridge to see if you are at least theoretically getting what you paid for.

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14 thoughts on “Do Toner Cartridges Really Deliver the Promised Number of Copies?”

  1. I’m not convinced as this is not enough evidence of being misled. Here is what additional information I need:
    1. When they put in a new HP cartridge, how many pages remaining are shown? I need this to compare apples to apples.
    2. Is that calculation of 7200 pages left based on their usage which may be a higher percentage then the “5% density” the projected 9000 page is based on? We don’t know, but it could be they commonly print at, say, 7% density, which could account for the reduced number of pages?

  2. You don’t need to buy a new cartridge at ANY price. These are EASILY refillable. I refill my HP cartridges 5-6 times before the drum shows signs of wear. Each refill costs about $5. You’ll not only save $$, but you’ll keep non-recyclable plastic out of the landfill.

  3. There’s also the possibility that the displayed number is a product of HP programming and reading a non-HP chip. I’d take the info from there with a grain of salt

  4. So,he saved 90% by going generic and is complaining that he got 20% less pages.He said he would continue buying generic.I guess so.There are a lot of new toner generics at my local swap meet for about $1 each.I can just take toner out of one of those catridges and load into my cartridge.So,my cost for printing is mainly paper,which I also find for about $1-2 per ream.

      • I don’t understand. You don’t have the skills to understand the relationship between saving 90% on a high cost item versus “losing” 20% on a low cost item?

        Edgar replies: No Robert, he does not have the ability to cut a hole in a used cartridge, remove the old toner residue, and fill it with new toner powder.

  5. Perhaps I’m misreading this, but if you get 20% fewer pages, for 90% less money, how is that a problem?

    Edgar replies: Come on, Len, just because you buy a product at a lower price, it should still deliver what the maker promises. We don’t trade away our consumer rights when buying more wisely.

    • My thoughts:
      The customer is buying an off-brand product claiming to be ‘the same as’ the OEM cartridge. What’s to say that replacement cartridge was filled to the same level as the original cartridge. When you would open the ‘new’ cartridge to empty it, whats to say that you got all the toner out? How does the printer determine how much toner is in the cartridge. Too many variables to consider.

      Are they saying they are buying genuine HP refilled cartridges from HP? Then that’s another story…

      I agree with Len about the 20% less for a lot less money.

  6. replying to my previous comment:
    I have learned to be skepical when it comes to comments and claims on what appears to be an Amazon sale page.

    I like to read reviews of products, especially the one and two star reviews. You can find out quite a bit about the product by reading what customers complained about.

  7. I’m not sure what all the conflict here. I don’t care how many sheets that HP offers in their toner or what the price is. The problem being pointed out here is that the company is advertising 9,000 sheets per toner cartridge, but only delivering 7,000.

    That’s a textbook example for this blog.

  8. The title of the article had me expecting that the major manufacturers were caught under-filling toner. But, nope, it was a generic brand…

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