Overpriced Printer Ink Costs Consumers $6 Billion Annually
Recent Study Finds Consumers Have No Effective Basis for Comparison
when Purchasing Inkjet Printer Ink; Leads to Unnecessarily High
Spending on Ink
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Consumer Institute
(ACI) urges consumers this holiday season to do their research before
purchasing a home printer -- or getting one for free with a computer
purchase. A new white paper entitled "Inkjet Prices, Printing Costs and
Consumer Welfare," exposes pricing strategies within the inkjet
industry that leave consumers at a major disadvantage and ultimately
cost them an estimated $6 billion a year, collectively.
The study finds that inkjet printers are routinely under-priced to
entice consumers to purchase the product. Once purchased, consumers are
trapped into spending hundreds of extra dollars to operate the printers
due to the high price of printer ink. This business model reflects the
well known "razor/razor blade model" wherein durable assets (printers)
are sold below cost and "consumables" (ink) are marked up
substantially. In fact, ink is currently priced higher per milliliter
than the world's finest champagne, gasoline and most luxury fragrances.
"Value shoppers" are seriously handicapped and mislead at the point
of sale by the lack of information about printing costs. They pay for
cartridges without knowing how much ink is in them or how many pages
one will print. Consumers shop blindly due to a lack of standardized
printer ink unit pricing (such as cents-per-page printed). It is not
enough to look at printer cartridges' prices either, since the lowest
priced cartridges often have the highest cost-of-ink per page.
"When purchasing an inkjet printer, consumers should consider the
full cost of printing, the cost of the ink used to print as well as the
cost of the printer itself," explains Dr. Larry F. Darby, coauthor of
the report. "Free or low-cost printers are 'fools gold' when they lock
consumers into using high cost ink for the life of the printer.
Consumers are comparing apples and oranges as they shop for printers.
It's very confusing."
Consumers would be well served by adoption of a form of
truth-in-labeling to allow them to compare each printer's cost-of-ink
per printed page. The paper concludes that competition in the inkjet
printer and ink sectors would be much more intense if consumers were
made aware of the cost implications of their printer choices. Better
information means lower costs for consumers.
The study estimates that consumers would reap a sizable gain,
estimated to be conservatively $6 billion per year once
information-driven competition in the inkjet industry is fully realized
in the marketplace. The study was conducted by TeleNomic Research with
an unrestricted grant from Kodak. The American Consumer Institute
received no funding for this study's release. A synopsis of the
findings, consumer tips to save on printer costs and a copy of the full
study are available at available at www.aci-citizenresearch.org .
The American Consumer Institute is an independent consumer
organization devoted to improving the lives of American consumers by
providing information on important issues that affect them.