Free markets create some perverse situations, mostly because humans are not the perfectly informed rational utility maximisers that economists pretend we are. Chief among perversions, is the tendency for printer manufacturers to sell us printers at below their real cost, followed by printer cartridges that cost more than the printer did, complete with expensive chips to make them impossible to refill. Of course, if we factored in the cost of the cartridges, we wouldn’t buy those under priced printers. But most of us don’t have the information to do so.
This is a predatory sales practice that makes it uneconomic to have printers repaired. Consumers loose out to manufacturers, with the environment as collateral damage.
I’ve been inspired recently by the chaps at U Refill Toner, who are fighting this tide of profiteering waste. They test and reverse engineer printers, can tell you how much they really cost to run, and then sell you a kit to help you refill it. For anyone trying to escape the tyranny of the ink monopolist, or choosing their next printer, I cannot recommend them enough.
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