The “Total Truth” about the “Total Cost” of a printer or MFP.

The “Razor and Blades” a.k.a. “Crack for Life” business model.

Over 100 years ago, the Gillette Razor company realized that the money was not in the razor but in the continual return business of selling the disposable blades.

The local crack pusher uses the same business model by giving away the crack-pipe and the first hit of crack.  The pusher knows the money is in selling their customer “crack for a life time!”

Most printer manufacturers also copied that business model.  Sometimes they will even sell printers at below cost because they know their real money is in selling expensive toner and ink supplies.

Printers and MFP’s typically only come with “Starter” toner cartridges.  There are two reasons this is done. ONE, it brings the Initial Purchase price down as low as possible and TWO, they get to start making the big money on the supplies that much sooner.

You can find printers and MFP (Multi functional Products – All-in-one Copier-printer-scanner) from less than $100.00 to just a few hundred.

Like the Crack dealer, they don’t want you to think too much about the long-term cost.  They lure you in by what appears to be a great economic purchase.

Printer Manufacturers don’t make it easy to figure out how many prints you make.  It is typically difficult just to get a total meter reading of the prints that have been made on a device.

Even the manufacturer’s “Rated yields” can be misleading.

To start out with, they now use the percentage of “5% fill”.  Percent of fill is the amount of a blank piece of paper that is covered up by ink or toner.  Here is why that 5% is misleading. Most business’ B&W text documents are over 6%.  At first you might think they only over-exaggerated the yield by 1%. But really, the yield is over-exaggerated by 20% (6%/5%).  So, a “Rated supply yield” of 1,000 pages would only be 800 pages.

The other variable the manufacturers somehow fail to share is that even at an ideal 5% fill, those yields are only for long continual print jobs.  In between print jobs, printers will use up additional toner/ink and other supplies during machine start up and cleaning cycles.  This is true for both laser and inkjet devices.  Consumer Reports found that for users that only prints small print jobs and turn their device off after most print jobs, the yields of many devices was cut in half.

Printing pictures and large graphics will also use a lot more toner that 5% per color (Black, Magenta, Cyan and Yellow).  A large photo can actually have a fill percentage of over 100%.  This is because each of the 4 colors is overlapped upon on another.

On laser printers, there are other supplies besides just toner.  All laser printers have a fuser unit that becomes used up by each print made.

Some laser printers may have a separate drum unit as well as transfer rollers and transfer belts.

Typically, the lower the initial purchase price, the higher the long-term cost of operation.  Of course, if you only make 100 pages per month, then the cost per page of supplies doesn’t matter too much.  However, if you are printing 500 color prints per month or 2,000 b&w pages per month, it makes a big difference!

You have to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  The initial cost of the device AND the costs of supplies over the device’s lifetime.


$$ Initial purchase price of the device

$$$ The cost of all Toner over the life of the device

$$$ The cost of all Drums over the life of the device

$$$ The cost of all Transfer Belts over the life of the device

$$$ The cost of all Transfer Rollers over the life of the device

$$$ The cost of all Fuser Units over the life of the device

$$$ The cost of any other parts of labor over the life of the device

$$$$$ The Total Cost of Ownership

High Tech Office Systems offers comprehensive supply and service agreements on our Business Class Printers and MFP’s.  We include ALL supplies (except paper) , parts AND maintenance for a flat rate per copy that is typically a fraction of the supply costs of most other devices.

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