TO-Tech Blog Todd Ogasawara’s Tech Blog

11Sep/0811

HP Ink Use & Cost Mystery


The use and cost of inkjet ink never ceases to amaze me. I'm glad the the HP Photosmart C6250 (which has given me a lot of problems to solve) uses individual color cartridges. I really don't understand how each color is used by my specific usage pattern. But, I am surprised that it looks like it is cheaper to buy indivdual HP 02 cartridges rather than the entire color pack (black ink is no longer included in that pack). I think someone estimated that inkjet cartridges costs something like $8,000 per gallon. So, I wish I could get a better handle on how it is actually used in my printer (given the kinds of things I print).

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  1. I have a Photosmart C6150, probably the exact same printer… and I am amazed by the costs of ink for this printer. What gets me the most is that my printer seems to go through the Cyan and Magenta colors, as well as the Black, but doesn’t touch the Light Cyan and Light Magenta.

    The cost for the ink is astounding, as you point out, but I’ve thought that its much cheaper to buy the HP Photo Value Pack, which still has all six colors and 150 sheets of paper.

    However, I’ve been trying to see if that is the case – since I currently have about 8 extra Light Cyan and Light Magenta cartridges, and always run out of the Black, Cyan and Magenta cartridges.

    Let’s use the HP Website pricing for the cartridges – we all know that we can get some limited discounts at local office stores (Max/Depot/Staples) but everything is relative here, so lets use the HP prices.

    If I need one Cyan cartridge, I can buy one for $10.99 or a twinpack for $18.99. Or I can buy the Value Pack, for $39.99.

    So, if I need one Cyan, one Magenta, and one Black cartridge, I can buy individual cartridges for $10.99, $10.99, and $19.99 (total $32.97) and get the yellow ($9.99), Lt. My. ($10.99), and Lt. Mg. ($10.99) and 150 sheets of paper, for $7.02.

    This doesn’t seem “right.” But that’s how they price it. So, I’ve been buying the value pack, and building a warehouse of Lt. Cy and Lt. Mg. cartridges.

    Well, I was wondering why the ink flow is so different in the various colors, and sure, the primaries might be used more, but it didn’t make a lot of sense.

    So, yesterday, at Staples, I started investigating more. It turns out that with the 5 non-black colors, there are different amounts of ink in each cartridge (at least those that are sold individually.) For example, the black cartridge has 10ML of ink (.33 fluid oz.) But the Cyan has only 4ML, and the Magenta has 3.5ML, while the Lt. Magenta has 5.5ML. (The Lt. Cyan didn’t even have the volume of ink listed on either the individual packaging or the twinpack.)

    So, let’s see. HP sells me a Magenta cartridge with 3.5ML for the same price as a Lt. Magenta which has 5.5ML, and I run out of the Magenta cartridge about 4x as often as the Lt. Magenta???

    I like the economics of this from the HP perspective – good business. But it sure seems like bad deal from the customer’s perspective.

    This gets more complex. HP doesn’t want people asking these questions. So they obscure the issue by measuring page yield rather than the quantity of ink that they sell. Here’s a link to their page that describes, in absolute detail, how they measure page yield.

    http://tinyurl.com/3xx9yb

    But when they sell the packages of ink cartridges, there’s really no mention that 1) the cartridges have different amounts of ink in them 2) that the ink is used in different amounts on average pages 3) that some ink cartridges will be used up in significantly different amounts of time/pages.

    I am getting very upset by the growing warehouse of light colors, and the increasing expense of the primary colors – cyan, magenta, and yellow.

    I am wondering if others have similar concerns about this, and what we might be able to do to collectively complain about this absurd situtuation.

    Feel free to contact me with your thoughts or add them here…

    Thanks,

    Eric

  2. I also own a C6150 all in one. I bought it at Costco a couple years ago and thought it was a good deal because all of the ink chambers were separate. It’s amazing that I never change the light color cartridges. I have a collection of 20 (10 of each) light color cartridges that are probably going to be donated to our schools empty cartridge program even though they’re full. The light colors are completely useless. I just bought the cheaper bundled packs at Costco as well. It’s very misleading!

  3. Rob: I started building a small collection of unused HP 02 inkjet cartridges myself until I started looking at it a bit closer. I now only buy individual cartridges on an as-needed basis.

  4. I have a C6180 that takes the HP 02 ink. I also agree with everyone above… HOWEVER, don’t waste your time with the HP”Photo Pack” that gives you all the colors and a smidgen of ink – around an avg. of 4 ml. I too have a collection of the light colors and about 1500 sheets of photo paper. Anyway, last time I bought ink, about a month ago, I bought the Office Depot brand package with all the colors. Their brand actually gives the customer about 10 ml of each color for approx $40. Instead of replacing ink cartridges every week, I just ran out of the dark cyan. I’m sick of this and shopping for my next printer – a laser. Same game there. All the laser cartridges run about $70 but give anywhere from 500 – 3500 sheets. I have to find a good laser that takes the high yield cartridges. Hope this helps.

  5. I am constantly annoyed by the HP style of ink marketing. There is no way to accurately compare prices between different packaging of the same ink! Why can’t they just tell you on each package and bundle exactly how many ml of each ink is in the cartridges. The ones with the paper included (whole thing for around $35) very likely contain a smaller amount of ink than you get when you buy the individual cartridges, but you have no way of really knowing. They are also selling the XL (extra large) cartridges which are visibly larger and do contain more ink. The last time I bought the XL black ink it told me how many ml were in it. Now they have taken the amount off the packaging so you can’t tell anymore. Did they do this so they can fill it with less and still get away with it.

    I’m so tired of HP’s tactics that I just wrote their chairman and CEO (Mark Hurd) the following email:

    <>

    I am disappointed in HP’s marketing methods for printer ink. I have a Photosmart 8250 that uses the 02 ink cartridges. They are supplied in several different forms:
    1) 5 color cartridges plus 150 sheets of photo paper
    2) 5 color cartridges plus 1 black cartridge
    3) individual cartridges (5 colors and black)
    4) XL (extra large) cartridges (5 colors in one package, 2 black cartridges in another).

    As a consumer who realizes that ink supplies are the major cost of printing, I would like to do some comparative shopping (all for genuine HP cartridges). The problem is that your marketing completely obscures how much ink I am getting for the price. And it is very clear that the amount of ink in the “combo packs” is much less than the individual cartridges. And the XL size has more, but how much more? Its like buying meat that is all boxed in one size box with different prices but no indication what the weight of the meat is – just a marketing reference to ‘enough for two’ or ‘feeds whole family’. Would you want to shop for a product like that?

    Today when shopping for HP ink I checked out Canon ink cartridges. They tell you how much ink is in their cartridge so that you can decide if you want the larger size for economy reasons or the smaller ones. I have decided that my next printer will be a Canon for these reasons, and that will be when the current ink runs out. If HP wants to retain my business they will have to market their supplies in a CLEARLY MARKED MANNER.

  6. Hi I have a photosmart c7280 and I have the same issue with the light magenta and cyan not being used at all!

    The scanning and copying mechanisms are pretty slow but I am happy with the printing quality of the machine. I think the primary issue I have is ink cost and the solution I’ve found for this problem is to purchase refillable ink cartridges and bulk ink.

    I will keep you posted on how well the ink works on my machine.

    It annoys me that HP not only makes a huge profit margin on the price of the ink, but that they have to go out of their way to rig their machines to use the color ink that is sold with less volume–there is nothing special about the cartridges that forces them to put less ink in the dark magenta and cyan verses the light.

    It’s a shame how the great American spirit has gone down through the generations. We’ve forgotten the values that have made us into the great nation we are today. It’s all about $$$ these days and I will have to admit that I myself have cut corners and try to maximize my income flow when I can but this is dishonest and flat out wrong. Shameful.

  7. I have HP C7283 and amazingly (!!) the light cyan & magenta cartridges remain at 100% levels while I have replaced all other cartridges. Do I even need the light ink cartridges ? Where do these get used ?

    By the way, any manufacturer will tell you – the real profit margins are actually in the consumables. So, the cartridge pricing issues should really be not a surprise to any one.

  8. I finally gave up on this game of HP Ink roulette.

    My HPC6150 (see above) got fried in an electrical storm recently, despite being plugged into a surge protector. Despite having 11 ink cartridges (6 lt. cyan, 4 lt. magenta and 1 yellow) waiting to be needed – but no black, cyan or magenta – I’ve purchased a new KODAK – 9 at a very good price and I am hoping that their promised lower ink costs will prove to be true.

    If HP is monitoring this – yes, your ink marketing strategies cost you a customer who has had HP printers since day 1 with computers in the home and his business. No mas!

  9. I finally gave up on this game of HP Ink roulette.

    My HPC6150 (see above) got fried in an electrical storm recently, despite being plugged into a surge protector. Despite having 11 ink cartridges (6 lt. cyan, 4 lt. magenta and 1 yellow) waiting to be needed – but no black, cyan or magenta – I’ve purchased a new KODAK – 9 at a very good price and I am hoping that their promised lower ink costs will prove to be true.

    Does anyone need any lt. cyan or lt. magenta ink? :)

    Eric

    If HP is monitoring this – yes, your ink marketing strategies cost you a customer who has had HP printers since day 1 with computers in the home and his business. No mas!

  10. I have been an HP loyalist for some 15 years. As soon as this C7280 needs replacing, it will not be with another HP!!! This is because of the reasons listed above and a recent fiasco when I dealt with a return of a faulty laptop.

  11. No more HP products for me, none. Their support used to be fantastic but now they only support if in warranty unless you want to pay for it. Their ink cartridge marketing is down right criminal. No way, and no answer from HP unless you pay them for the answer, to find out how much ink is in their cartridges. Do yourself a favor and trash ALL HP products. If they treat the consumer with disrespect on one product they must do it on all their products. Don’t be a sucker any longer. Never buy HP anything.


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