It was just a couple of weeks ago that I discussed looking at the on running costs of any printer you were looking to purchase as the initial purchase price should only be the smallest part of the equation when choosing what to buy. It seems somewhat coincidental therefore that today I heard news regarding a new standard allowing consumers to compare the potential ongoing running costs was being pushed through by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
I hear a collective sigh as it's assumed this could turn in to a shameless plug for my cartridge business but honestly, I really won't go there today!
Until now printer manufacturers have used a variety of ways to measure how many pages a cartridge will print but after the OFT criticised the four big players (Epson, Canon, HP, Lexmark) over an alleged lack of transparency, consumers should now find it easier to compare machine against machine.
The OFT has called on the industry to devise a standard method of testing for all inkjet cartridges and although originally this was supposed to have come in to place by the end of 2003 the industry was given more time to prepare. Just recently the ISO (International Standards Organisation) approved new standards so that cartridges could be accurately compared against one another by consumers.
To emulate how the average user prints three different document types are used consisting of black text and graphics, colour graphics or photographs. All three document types are generally tested on current printers unless there are limitations that would prevent any of the previous tests from having been completed successfully. All these tests are carried out in controlled conditions at the same temperature and humidity as the average home/office and the tests are conducted in a nearly continuous line with normal breaks being taken for changing the paper.
Of course, it should be noted that the above method is quite an economical way of printing and users who do stop/start printing are likely to get poorer page yields than these results would suggest. For those not in the know, when you are not using your printer it does periodically use a small amount of ink for cleaning the print heads to prevent them from drying out. This does mean that theoretically you could never use your cartridge and it would empty itself over a period of time but unfortunately this isn't the printer manufacturers trying to con you but one of those simple requirements that can't be avoided.
These page yields, once ascertained will shortly be printed on all packaging of the manufacturers' original cartridges and additionally on the manufacturers' websites. I was able to find sections on the Epson and HP websites indicating cartridge page yields but it would appear that Canon and Lexmark haven't yet put these pages in to place.
Of course, this standard is only going to allow users to compare the on running prices of the manufacturers' original cartridges rather than the cheaper compatible or remanufactured alternatives but it certainly is a step in the right direction. Whether the average consumer will use this information or whether despite all my warnings customers will continue purchasing the cheapest printer they can find without considering the ongoing costs has yet to be seen.