The debate around OEM versus refurbished printer cartridges rages forth, especially in the current economic climate in which companies are looking to cut costs anywhere and everywhere they can.

“While I can understand the need to reduce costs, these decisions must be based on securing the long-term viability of the business, and choosing to buy cheaper, non-OEM cartridges puts that viability at risk,” says Printacom MD, Neil Rom. “A saving of a few rand in the short-term on printer cartridge replacement cannot justify the potential damage to a printer or the voiding of its warranty.”
Rom equates this debate to an owner of a luxury vehicle deciding to save money by using pirate replacement parts when the car is serviced.
“It’s an analogy I often use because it is something people can relate to very easily,” he says. “Imagine buying a top-of-the-range luxury sedan and installing refurbished brake pads, or skimmed disks, or retreaded tyres.
“Considering the investment made in the vehicle, it simply doesn't make sense to devalue that investment or putting the lives of loved ones at risk in the pursuit of a short-term saving gain.”
Rom says exactly the same principle applies to printer cartridges whereby immediate cost savings are quite likely to result in higher repair and maintenance costs in the long term.
He explains that these cumulative, long-term costs are not related only to the warranty on the printer being voided in most cases, meaning the printer owner has to foot the bill for break-downs.
“Once you enter the domain of third-party printer cartridges, you are opening yourself up to any number of potential problems. OEM cartridges are priced as they are for a reason: they have been built to the highest quality; are designed specifically for their brand of machine; and the quality of the print-job will be significantly better.”
Rom says third-party cartridge suppliers play on users' desire for an immediate saving and do not apprise their customers of the pitfalls.
Commonly reported problems with non-OEM cartridges include leakage, which in certain cases can irreparably damage expensive items such as the imaging drum, general failures of the replacement cartridges and fewer pages per cartridge output than the genuine item. Rom also points out that one of the benefits of using original OKI consumables is the recently extended 3 year warranty – an industry first.
“The time required to deal with these problems, never mind that actual cost of repairing or replacing parts, is in itself a hidden cost that suppliers of these non-original cartridges never talk about,” says Rom.
“For companies that truly want to save their printing costs, there are very effective print management applications through which they can control their printing output, and therefore costs. Managing the human element is not only much easier, but also more cost-effective in the long-run. Unfortunately not enough companies take this approach,” says Rom.