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Consumers: The unsuspecting victims of counterfeit

In a stinging rebuke on rogue manufacturers and suspect third part ink manufacturers, HP’s Susanne Schoewitz-Franchi has penned a white paper on the growing plague of counterfeit ink.

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Susanne Schoewitz-Franchi

HP channel and brand protection program manager, EMEA printing systems supplies printing and personal systems for HP, she writes: "A lot of people think about printers and ink cartridges like they would petrol and a car. Replacing ink cartridges is just like filling your car with petrol, right? Cars run out and you top them up again, with petrol from any station available to you, and you usually go for the more cost-effective one, right? Well, replacing ink cartridges is actually more like changing the petrol and the whole engine that it powers. your car with sub-standard or the wrong fuel (ever put diesel in a car run by petrol?) is going to ruin your vehicle in one way or another. Customers should have this same attitude towards sub-standard print cartridges going into your printers.

"For many people, the opportunity to save a couple of pounds on print cartridges and toner is just too tempting, and for others, they are unknowingly duped by dubious online sale sites or unapproved stores. Unfortunately, it is normal people using their printers that end up paying the long-term costs – poor print quality, leaky cartridges and in the worse cases, catastrophic printer damage.

"Counterfeit print supplies are substandard cartridges and toner. However, unlike a dodgy DVD or a fake designer handbag, these counterfeit print supplies are very difficult to spot. They can look identical to the real thing, right down to the packaging the products come in. Sophisticated techniques mean it is getting harder and harder to spot fakes and catch the culprits behind the sale of these illegal products. 

What is the real risk to people buying fake print supplies for their printers? Firstly, using non-OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) supplies can cause long-term performance and reliability issues

"What is the real risk to people buying fake print supplies for their printers? Firstly, using non-OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) supplies can cause long-term performance and reliability issues. Testing done by Buyers Lab has shown that original HP ink cartridges surpass non-HP alternatives by producing on average 50 percent more pages. The same test revealed that more than 40 percent of non-HP ink cartridges failed either being dead on arrival or expiring prematurely.

"The issues are not only with the longevity of cartridges, counterfeit print supplies usually give a poor-quality print-out, this could include ink-spotting, streaking, smudging and smearing. Toner splatter and poor colour quality are also issues associated with fakes. Much like putting the wrong fuel in your car, counterfeit ink can cause potential long term and costly damage to the inside of your printer. Key parts can become contaminated with leaking ink and toner, while your own hands and clothes can become stained when trying to fix the printer or remove poorly performing cartridges.

"Some of these issues can cause machine failures and total breakdowns, which can be both difficult and costly to repair. Should your printer break because of using counterfeit ink or toner, you could have issues with your manufacturer’s warranty becoming not applicable. The short-term gains simply are not worth the potential long-term problems.

"Finally – the money that you save when you buy print cartridges online or in-store from an unofficial source funds illegal activity such as counterfeit production. Unfortunately, this money is not being funnelled back into print businesses to help them develop new, cutting edge technology. Customers must be more vigilant when purchasing inks, and can identify real HP inks by scanning the QR code on the box, checking labels and buying from a reliable and well-known retailer."


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