Worlds Most Expensive Printer Ink

Today I bought what may be the most expensive consumer printer ink available.  We have a small Pitney-Bowes postage meter that has a little built in ink-jet printer to print out the metered postage symbol (that sort of red looking stuff that replaces the stamp).  One of their little print cartridges doesn't last more than at most a thousand envelopes, which represents at most the equivalent of 50 pages of text for a normal printer.  For this little cartridge with its smidgen of ink, I paid $39.99.  At the same time, I bought two-paks of the HP cartridges I needed (no bargain themselves) for $25 per cartridge, and these cartridges last for hundreds of pages.  I can't directly compare the volume of ink, but my sense is that the P-B cartridge is priced such that it would be over $500 with an equivalent amount of ink to an HP cartridge.  Insane.  And its worse because the P-B postage meter has this annoying tendency to announce the cartridge is almost out of ink before it is even half empty.  We have gone weeks with the meter telling us the cartridge had to be replaced soon.

I am not sure I fully understand the relationship Pitney-Bowes has to the US Postal Service, but to all appearances, they have been handed a virtual monopoly for decades.  For years business have been forced to pay egregious rental rates for P-B equipment with long, long minimum lease periods because the USPS does not seem to be comfortable with competition.  Only the advent of Internet postage in the late 1990's forced P-B to come out with a small business postage meter that you could purchase at relatively low cost.  I am flabbergasted that the US government continues to give them this monopoly.  It is ironic to me that several of the abusive monopolistic practices used by Pitney-Bowes and encouraged by the US government are the same practices Xerox got busted (under anti-trust litigation) years ago by... the US Government.

  • http://duanegran.com/blog/ Duane Gran

    I've felt for years that government bureaucracies should be in the "business" of defining standards, not in selecting vendors. If all they did was specify the nature of the ink then any company who wanted to get in the business of selling postage ink could do so.

    Incidentally, there is also plenty of cronyism in the private sector as well. I recall reading about how HP does some ornery things with their printer cartridges to refuse printing if the ink was refilled. Using technology to protect a revenue stream from the competition is pretty low.

  • http://bigcatchronicles.blogharbor.com roaring tiger

    PB has always been an aggressive and strong-arm company so I'm not surprised by the cartridge pricing.

  • Max

    Ahh, but you have still cheap ink. In Germany, the question is whether to buy a cheap printer or an ink refill. They are almost equally expensive (20-30 euro) and you get a brand-new printer which can then be sold at e-bay :)

  • http://profile.typekey.com/JoelM/ 4 Color Printing

    "PB has always been an aggressive and strong-arm company so I'm not surprised by the cartridge pricing."

    -I second the motion!

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  • http://www.3d-magic.ca 3d-magic.ca

    PB does have competition. Neopost is also very expensive. Here in Canada they sell their IJ65 cartridge for about $225. Our company has started to remanufacture this cartridge and we hope to start remanufacturing the PB cartridges by mid 2007.