Can Someone Explain Printer Economics?

ricoh-spc250dn color laser printerI just bought a very nice Ricoh SP C250DN color laser printer from Adorama for the crazy low price of $66, including shipping. The friggin’ think arrived 22 hours after I ordered it. Nice job, Adorama!

Here’s what I don’t get. UPS shipping on a package of that weight is $56. Even accounting for Adorama’s discounts, that means they’re effectively selling a 52-pound color laser printer for no more than $20. But the kicker is that replacement toner cartridges for this sucker cost over $200 each.

So that means even at the current price of $100 it’s far cheaper for me to stock up on replacement cartridges by buying several more printers, removing the cartridges and throwing away the printers.

Can anyone explain how this industry makes money?

2 thoughts on “Can Someone Explain Printer Economics?

  1. Usually the toner cartridges that ship with new printers are not more than 60% full. You’ll also use a decent amount of toner going through that first set up print to check alignment (on some printers). And most consumers simply won’t want to deal with disposing of an entire printer to get a 60% full cartridge!

    Your printer here is an extreme case. It likely launched at a pricepoint. After a printer ages, the price naturally drops. Manufacturers try to keep “batches” of printers that use the same model of ink cartridge in production. Otherwise they lose their margin on the ink! It’s possible, then, that sales of the ink that this and other printers in this batch use had slowed to a point that narrowed margin too much. Then you get a fire sale on printers.

    With a printer this inexpensive, you might look for a generic ink. Typically better on lasers than on inkjets. Can be tough on machine but this one isn’t going to last forever.

    HTH

  2. Fantastic explanation! I didn’t know the cartridges on new printers weren’t full. I guess since all the profit comes from ink, the goal is to get the buyer to refill as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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