Quality Can Be Inconsistent

In CR's printers survey, 63 percent of respondents who used aftermarket cartridges say they’re just as good as name-brand cartridges, while 36 percent think they’re not up to par.

Our testers have found inconsistencies with third-party cartridges.

Rich Sulin, who leads CR’s printer-testing program, says that some samples worked without any problems but that other samples of the same products “set off warning messages from their printer or failed to print a test page.” Additionally, he says, “some aftermarket inks worked initially but quickly clogged printer heads.” 

Sulin says to make sure the vendor provides a money-back guarantee, and he advises you to use the ink or toner as soon as possible after a purchase.

Consumer Reports doesn't rate third-party inks because the marketplace is so fractured—a large number of manufacturers offer a rapidly changing lineup of products for different printer models, making comparisons difficult.

Third-Party Ink Might Void Your Warranty

“The typical printer warranty states that it become invalid if you use non-OEM (original equipment manufacturer) ink,” Sulin says. “If you experience any printer problems, the manufacturer could deny you support.”

For instance, Lexmark stipulates that its warranty does not cover failures from “refilling or remanufacture by a third party of products, supplies or parts.” Epson has a similar policy. And, Sulin says, manufacturers may know if you’ve installed aftermarket ink: “Some printers squeal on you over an internet connection,” he says.

His suggestion: If you want to try third-party inks, wait until after the warranty on your printer has expired.

Other Ways to Save on Ink

Canon and Epson have introduced supertank printers that replace pricey replacement cartridges in favor of refillable reservoirs that cost about $12 per bottle of ink. Supertank printers can save you money over the long haul even though they cost a lot more up front.

HP Instant Ink, an ink-subscription service, charges a monthly fee based on the number of pages you print, not how much ink you use. According to HP, the plan could cut your ink costs in half.
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Article origin: Consumer report