Once upon a time, there was a tech columnist who bought a $150 printer with a model number so long it’s now her bank password.
The two lived as happily as a printer and a human could. She pulled jammed paper from its rollers, came to understand its sporadic grunts and fed it $40 color cartridges—even though she really only ever printed black-and-white FedEx labels.
Nearly five years later, when the printer was on its last legs, she did the math. She had spent $1,200 on ink—eight times the cost of the printer.
There it is, my sad tale of how I lost to one of the greatest rackets of the technology industry: cheap inkjet printers with expensive ink refills.
The solution isn’t to stop buying printers. In fact, we need printers more than ever. Since living the work-from-home life (soon to be the hybrid-work life), printer purchases are up. During the first nine months of the pandemic, retail dollar sales of printers increased 51% compared with the same period the year before, while unit sales climbed 8%, according to NPD.