The Dallas Morning News

Ways to save on toner, ink

- JILL CATALDO jill@ctwfeature­


Dear Jill: I have a laser printer that uses toner instead of ink, which is costeffect­ive as one toner cartridge can last three years or more.

I had sticker shock when I went to the store and found that the toner I previously paid $40 for was now $65. An online marketplac­e showed it for $30, so I bought it there.

When I put the new cartridge in my printer, it printed light gray instead of black. The date on the cartridge showed it had been manufactur­ed in 2005! This toner, while new in the box, was 14 years old and had likely hardened in the cartridge. I tried to save money, but I had no way to check the manufactur­e date before the product was in my hands. I returned to the office supply store and bought a cartridge with a 2018 manufactur­e date, and it works correctly.

Isabelle R. As someone who gives her printer a coupon workout on a weekly basis, I do sympathize. The prices of ink and toner cartridges can be quite eye-opening. I too have found that laser printers cost less to maintain. Although they cost more at the outset, the toner costs less in the long-term.

Printer cartridges typically have a manufactur­e date or an expiration date stamped somewhere on the packaging. I have advocated buying “gently” expired ink or toner, because if it is not more than one or two years past the date, these cartridges are typically fine to use. In fact, a sort of cottage industry has sprung up on popular auction sites, such as ebay. Searching for “expired,” along with the product number for your printer’s cartridge, usually returns a list of items that may still work in your printer and are also discounted.

For example, my inkjet printer’s cartridges typically cost around $30 each. A quick auction search returns 2-year-old cartridges priced less than $5. For that price, I’m willing to take a chance on these.

When shopping online, you would have every reason to expect that the cartridges are new and current. If there is no disclosure that you are buying new old stock, but you receive something that’s far past its prime, I would immediatel­y return the item.

While we’re on the topic of printer savings, let me share a few more tips. When your cartridge reaches the end of its life, remember to return it to a suitable vendor for recycling. Most office supply stores accept empty printer cartridges, and some offer store credit when you bring them back. If your model accepts them, you can save money purchasing refilled ink or toner cartridges.

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