Reader question.

Once again I’ll be spending this week answering a question recently sent in by one of my readers.

Just to inform you that I recently bought a #17 Black cartridge from Lexmark for my Lexmark X1160 printer from Argos in Torquay, I am very disappointed with the Lexmark brand as it seems to have lasted only a few weeks with only probably 50 x A4 printouts.Can you tell me if this is usual and what is the difference between the cartridge numbers 16 & 17 Black or the 26 & 27 Colour in respect of longevity?Can you give me any suggestions for a decent replacement set of cartridges for my machine?

Tom Blakesley, Paignton

For some reason the majority of the people in Paignton seem to own Lexmark printers and so I thought I’d take a minute to explain why you should probably bin yours and go out and buy a cheaper printer to run.Firstly, to answer your question, Tom, the Lexmark 16 and Lexmark 26 are the high capacity versions of the Lexmark 17 and Lexmark 27; the cartridge you purchased was the lower capacity cartridge but still getting only 50 print-outs is abysmal and it may be worthwhile taking it back to Argos to see if there is anything they can do to help you.

Obviously, since I run a printer cartridge company I can get quite passionate from time to time with the ludicrous price that some people are paying for replacement inks when it really isn’t necessary.Whilst Epson and Canon printer owners can often buy a set of cartridges from us for as little as £4.98 for the pair, those with Lexmark (and to a lesser extent, HP) are stuck buying cartridges that can cost around £50 for a pair.What really rubs salt in to the wounds is that the £50 cartridges often contain less ink than the £4.98 cartridges and so suddenly the twenty quid printer that you bought at such a bargain price several weeks ago doesn’t seem like such a good deal.

To make matters worse, Lexmark are practically giving their printers away to system manufacturers such as Dell who then provide them with it as part of a package deal when you buy a new PC.I’m not saying as such that Lexmark printers are rubbish but just think that if you consider buying 2 sets of replacement cartridges at £50 a set then you’ve instantly got £100 that could be used to buy a printer that uses much cheaper cartridges; an Epson or Canon printer for example.Then every time you replace the cartridges in your machine you’re making a saving; I would consider it an investment more than anything else.

Personally I would like to see more of an effort made by the large chain stores to make customers aware of the ongoing costs of running a particular printer before it is purchased; you wouldn’t buy a car for example if the salesman told you that it could only use a specific type of fuel that cost £1.49 a litre or a mobile phone that although only costing £9.99 to buy would then cost you 99p a minute whenever you used it.Customers are made aware of the ongoing costs of running pretty much anything they purchase but yet there is no universal system in place to compare the price per ml of ink when it comes to buying replacement original, remanufactured or compatible cartridges.Such a system would certainly help to avoid people getting ripped off in the long run.

I sent a copy of the above reply back to Tom a few days ago and received a nice poem he composed about Lexmark by return which unfortunately the editor wouldn’t let me print for legal reasons.In addition, after my article about smoking support sites last week he has told me that has now tried to quit smoking and so the best of luck to him.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.