Are printer ink cartridges a scam? This viral YouTube video says so

Flickr | frankieleon

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If you have a printer in your home, then you likely know the frustration of seeing that wonderful error message telling you the ink is low. And, you may wonder, “How can that be? Didn’t I just change this thing?” No, there’s not a blip in the space-time continuum, in fact, there is one man who claims the entire printer and ink cartridge business is a scam.

Justin McConnell, a YouTube video creator, recently posted a clip where he vents his frustration over frequently broken printers and ink cartridges that are almost constantly empty. In “Ink Cartridges Are A Scam,” McConnell shares his personal experience of trying to fix his mother’s inkjet printer. Those of us who have had to work through tech issues for their own family members can relate to and share in his frustration.

But, beyond his anger at a single broken printer, McConnell makes some serious points about the actual motives and business practices of the printer industry.

He shares his own experience of working for a computer company’s call center where he was trained to sell things like printers and cartridges to customers who only called in for technical support. During one phone call, McConnell said he discovered the manufacturing price for a set of replacement ink cartridges was only 23 cents, yet the company was charging nearly $60 for them!

McConnell is not alone in his rallying cry against inkjet printers and their expensive ink cartridges. In fact, claims of unfair practices in that business have been going on for some time.

In 2015, a Seattle-based printing company called Bellevue Fine Art got frustrated that its $5,000 Epson 9900 printer wouldn’t work, because of a low-ink notification. At about $3,500 per replacement set, the company started to wonder what was going on.

So, some workers decided to take a look for themselves. What they found was surprising. When they opened a couple of the “empty” cartridges, they actually found up to 21 percent of the ink was still in them. Not exactly empty, right?

In 2008, PC World magazine did a test showing “empty” cartridges still had anywhere from 8 to 45 percent of the ink still in them. But, because of the way the cartridges are made, they send a signal to the printer which shuts them down until they are replaced.

Add in the fact that it can often be cheaper to buy a new printer than a color replacement cartridge, and it’s no wonder people get upset about these products! A quick search on Amazon shows you can get a new HP DeskJet 1112 Compact Printer for just $29.99.


Yet, when you need to buy an ink cartridge replacement pack, you are going to shell out $42.89!

So, in this case, you’d pay nearly $13 less to get a brand new printer when compared to the ink you’d need to make your current printer work.

Flickr | innovate360

What About Refillable Ink Cartridges?

Consumers are not happy with this and have tried to figure out ways to work around it, such as buying refillable cartridges. Of course, printer and ink companies don’t like that, because they want people to buy their products. One instance of this went to court as printer companies tried to stop these practices.

As a result, even the Supreme Court of the United States has gotten involved with printing business practices. In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of consumers who tried to work around ink cartridge problems.

West Virginia-based Impression Products takes old toner cartridges from companies like Lexmark, refills them with ink and resells them at a cheaper price to customers. The dispute made it all the way to the highest court, where the justices ruled that Lexmark could not “use patent law to stop other companies, such as Impression, from reselling its old cartridges.”

About the Author
Marie Rossiter

Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. You can find her writing about her personal health journey at and connect with her at More.