Laser toner refills

I recently commented on an Amazon customer review of an HP toner cartridge we use here at the office.  The user was considering buying a refilled toner cartridge due to cost savings.  I gave him a speech on it (not trolling!  Just providing perspective).  Here’s an edited version of what I wrote.  Geez, I sound arrogant.

I agree that the cost is high, but I would point out that the reason I buy HP printers is that, as an IT technician, I know I can rely on them, and I won’t go wrong recommending them to a customer. Their quality is unmatched by anyone in the industry. They build better products, so they are more expensive. Of course, it’s your call what you want to buy, but I wanted to give the “standard” IT guy line on why to buy new instead of refilled.

As far as refilled toner goes, that’s up to you, but I’m not a fan of them (again, as an professional technician). It’s something I would steer a customer away from for several reasons:

1. Reliability – it is fairly common knowledge in the IT tech field that refilled toner cartridges are not reliable. Cartridges were not made to be refilled, regardless of what may be posted on refill-kit websites. See for more information.

In addition, you may not save money if you get a faulty cartridge, and you may not be able to return any of the refill-related parts (for instance, states: “All defective returns examined and weighed. Product that is found to be non-defective or used will not be credited.”) So if you used it a few times, then it spilled toner, you may not get a refund? Shipping fees are non-refundable (that would typically include return shipping), so you might pay more in shipping than you did for the cartridge.

2. Health – Toner is considered by some scientists to be a carcinogen ( It suspends easily in air and is easily inhaled. Refilled cartridges have been known to spill toner more frequently than new cartridges, increasing the danger. Some manufacturers claim this is an urban legend (of course they would!), but some researchers insist toner is dangerous. It can also be a pain to clean up because it is static-sensitive and clings to plastic surfaces such as the inside of the printer.

3. Quality – since refilled ink and toner is designed to lower the price as much as possible, the quality of ink and manufacturing is often questionable (again, see website from #1).

If it’s the environment you are concerned about (as refill companies will tell you you are being “green” by refilling), check your local area for a computer recycling center. Many metro areas have a computer store that will recycle cartridges or equipment. If not, check with the manufacturer.

Bottom line for me is – if I’m a home user who prints mainly for personal use (i.e. doesn’t need resume-quality documents or color documents), and it’s not important if my printer is unavailable a few days in case of a cartridge failing, then I might use refills. If I’m a business user and need 24/7 reliability and high quality printing on the first try (especially in color printers), it would be worth it in the long run to go with a new cartridge. It’s your call, of course, and I might go with a refill cartridge for home use, but I wouldn’t expect to save as much money as it appears upon first glance.

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One Comment on “Laser toner refills”

  1. mrosedale Says:

    To put in my $0.02. When I was at the U of I we bought Brother printers. Cheaper up front and cheaper to refill. I personally own a Brother as well. We have been very happy with them, though we don’t use them in high volume areas. For the price you can’t beat it. And the quality is good as well. My current job doesn’t use them because we are a publishing company and the sheer wait of how many documents get printed demand higher quality.

    HP is great, but if you are looking for home use or a low traffic area I would go with Brother. Otherwise HP makes some great stuff!

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