Compatible Inkjet Cartridges and Printer Warranty

Compatible inkjet cartridges can save a lot of money. PC World reports that Hewlett-Packard color ink-jet cartridges cost about $22 per quarter ounce making them more expensive than the same weight of imported Russian caviar. This means that even though the cost of purchasing a printer is becoming more and more affordable, the cost of operating one is becoming increasingly expensive.

Big Money for Manufacturers

Cartridges provide huge profits for big-name printer vendors. Most insist that consumers need to use their brand of cartridge for their brand of printer and that third party ink is inferior. Some manufacturer's, like Lexmark, have gone so far as to integrate a microchip into their brand of laser toner cartridges. If the printer can't read this microchip, the unit won't work making it difficult to use compatible cartridges. The only way to reuse a cartridge is to buy a remanufactured one from Lexmark who resets the microchip in their factories. You can't even use inkjet refills with third-party toner because the cartridge can't be used unless the microchip is reset. Experts suspect it will only be a matter of time before the company does the same with their inkjet cartridges.

Epson already has a microchip in their inkjet cartridges. But the cartridge still works when filled with third party ink refills. But the Epson microchip causes the cartridge to lose some of its functions when refilled such as the ability to record the level of ink left in the cartridge.

The Printer Warranty

Printer manufacturers obviously want consumers to buy their brand of cartridge and they're willing to go to extreme lengths to make this happen. Some may go so far as to suggest that using compatible inkjet cartridges will void the warranty, but they'll never say so directly. This is because according to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act, no company is permitted to sell any product and demand that the consumer must purchase add-ons, replace parts and such from that particular company.

Here's an excerpt directly from the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act: Chapter 50 Consumer Product Warranties 15 Section 2302.

"(c) No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on a consumer's using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade or corporate name; except that prohibition of this subsection may be waived by the commission if:

1) Warrantor satisfies Commission that warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with warranted product, and

2) Commission finds that such a waiver is in public's interest."

One of the printer manufacturer powerhouses, HP, clearly states that the use of "refilled print cartridges does not affect either the warranty or any maintenance contract purchased from HP for its HP inkjet printers." But the company goes on to say that "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."

Consumers' Rights

This means that as a consumer you have the right to buy whatever product for your printer but printer manufacturers will continue to do everything they legally can to discourage you from doing so. Replacement toner and ink jet cartridges is a multi-billion dollar industry with huge profits for manufacturers and they're not willing to give up those profits.