The Perils of Third-Party Printer Supplies

If you’re like me, you have a little voice that whispers advice to you. Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to it—especially when I’m shopping online. I typically shop for specific brands, but of course online stores offer up a smorgasbord of off-brand “like” products at comparatively steep discounts. At prices forty, fifty, even sixty percent lower for the no-name brand, it can be tempting. The problem is that it’s not always apples-to-apples—often it’s apples to pineapples!

I’ve thrown caution to the wind and fallen for the low prices a time or two and have regretted it. Now I know that the sensible purchase of a familiar “tried and true” brand will save me MORE—a lot more—in the end.

Recently one of my colleagues fell victim to the allure of no-name third-party.

Yet, not everyone listens to their inner voice—their instincts—and this can be costly. Recently, a fellow in our office fell victim to the allure of no-name third-party super-savings. He needed a part to fix one of his beloved foreign cars. His inner voice must’ve been screaming ‘NO!’ when he, like so many, threw caution to the wind and hit the ‘Buy’ button.

And did he pay!

Shortly afterwards, one day he left for work early to beat traffic and his car broke down on the highway. He called for assistance and waited for the tow truck to arrive. Hours later, the mechanic gave him the good news and the bad news. The good news was that an OEM part to replace the cheapo one he’d just installed, along with another OEM part that broke when the cheapo part broke, were both readily available. The bad news: the second part was quite expensive and required a lot of labor to remove and replace. In total, it’d be more than $1000.

Let’s take stock of what this bargain brand third-party part really cost him? Well, first whatever the cost of the part itself, then another $1000 to replace and fix the damage it caused. Oh, the cost of the tow—say $100. All that money, plus the time spent over the weekend working on his car, wasted. His wife was upset (never good). Then there’s the time lost from work—nearly an entire day. I can tell you, his boss was not pleased. I know because I’M HIS BOSS!

Getting lucky with an “out-of-box failure”

We hear similar stories here at Xerox from customers who, like my colleague, believe that buying third-party supplies will save them money. Too often, just the opposite happens: the third-party toner cartridge leaks inside the printer and after a few hundred prints the vital components are thoroughly contaminated with toner. This causes damage to the printer, resulting in huge repair costs. Sometimes the contamination is so destructive that the printer can’t be repaired.

But it’s not always that bad. Sometimes the customer gets “lucky” because when the toner cartridge is installed it can’t communicate with the printer and thus never works. This is probably the most common failure seen in third-party toner cartridges. Just this past month, Buyer’s Lab Inc. completed testing of an aftermarket cartridge brand made for a Xerox printer and eight out of nine magenta cartridges failed to generate one single print. Eight out of nine! Imagine the time and money wasted buying and returning eight toner cartridges.

Clearly, the perils of third-party bargain supplies are real, and while the upfront price of Xerox Genuine Supplies is higher, in the end they’ll cost you far, far less. As the old Chinese proverb goes: “good goods, not cheap. Cheap goods, not good.” Had the chap who works for me heard this and spent the extra money for an OEM part instead of a third-party bargain brand, four things would’ve turned out differently:

  1. He would’ve saved about $1200.
  2. His wife wouldn’t have been upset with him for squandering all that money.
  3. His boss (me) wouldn’t have been upset with him for squandering a work day.
  4. He wouldn’t be the focal point of this blog!

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