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.