Compatible vs. Original Ink Cartridges: Does Cheaper Mean Worse?

The prices of original ink cartridges are baffling. Big manufacturers like Canon and Hewlett-Packard seem to follow the “razor and blades” reasoning — i.e., mainly capitalize on consumable supplies. Compatible cartridges offer a much-needed reprieve, but how do they compare to OEM products?

1.   Prices

Printers from the HP Officejet Pro series show how big the price disparity can be. An OEM (original equipment manufacturer) pack of 4 cartridges costs £95.99. A compatible hp 953xl multipack from Smart Ink contains twice as much ink for less than half the price — just £39.99. You can find a plethora of similar bargains, but big brands have no intention to change their policies.

Businesses that produce compatible cartridges are smaller. They do not have to invest billions of dollars to develop cutting-edge office equipment. Thanks to more narrow specialization, they offer substantial savings.

2.   Quality

You may suppose print quality with cheaper ink must be lower by default. In reality, independent companies meet global quality standards. Typically, cartridges are certified following CE, ISO 9001, ISO 14000, Reach, or STMC. This means that performance is similar to original supplies.

Naturally, suppliers are not created equal. You have to do some digging online to find a trusted shop. Quality certificates are one of the hallmarks of excellence.

3.   Legality

Despite printer manufacturers’ adversity to compatible cartridges, they are perfectly legal. Consumer protection legislation on both sides of the Atlantic prohibits the use of anti-competitive terms. Printer giants may not void warranties or punish customers in other ways. Every consumer has a right to buy from independent brands.

4.   Safety

Certified compatible products are also perfectly safe to use. You need to follow the installation manual, that’s all! Naturally, you can encounter poor-quality products, just like in any other industry, so follow the tips below:

How to Choose a Shop

Buying cartridges online is the most convenient way, as they are sold on brand websites and virtual marketplaces. To find a shop worth trusting, pay attention to:

  • Quality marks (global standard certification);
  • Warranty;
  • Chip version.

In terms of guarantees, a two-year money-back period is sufficient.  Make sure the warranty applies to production defects and transportation damage. Check the return policy in advance as a precaution.

The version of the chip determines if a cartridge will be recognized by your printer. Reputable brands guarantee their chips are up-to-date to keep up with new firmware. Printer manufacturers release updates programming their machines to reject non-OEM supplies. You could also turn them off to solve the problem.

Additional Benefit

To save even more on every purchase, buy cartridges with XL or XXL volume. Typically, they contain twice or three times as much ink, respectively.  Some shops offer additional discounts for buying in bulk and free shipping across the UK.


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