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Press Contact

Tony Polifrone, Managing Director

Buyers Laboratory, Inc



Low-Cost Refilled Ink Cartridges Don’t Measure Up for Consumers


New BLI Test Reveals High Failure Rates, Lower Yields


HACKENSACK, New Jersey, April 20, 2011 – Today, Buyers Lab Inc. (BLI) released the results of a new study showing  that OEM ink cartridges tested as part of the report printed, on average, more than twice the pages as their refilled counterparts.1  The study, which compared the yield and reliability of refilled ink cartridges and OEM ink cartridges from HP, casts doubt on the value proposition for bargain-rate refilled ink cartridges.


The study, “Original HP Inkjet Print Cartridges vs. Third-Party Refilled Cartridges,” also found that the OEM HP cartridges tested boast a zero percent failure rate, compared to a 72 percent failure rate from the refilled cartridges.  Of the 309 refilled cartridges that failed, 128 were considered dead on arrival (DOA), which means that they either failed to operate properly upon installation or produced 10 or fewer pages before reaching their end-of-life. The other 181 failed refilled cartridges were considered “premature expires,” which means that they produced unacceptably low page yields (i.e., less than 75 percent of the average yield of the HP cartridges)1.


“While printer owners often select refilled cartridges because of the perceived value compared to OEM brands, our study shows that the value proposition might not be as compelling as it appears,” explained Tony Polifrone, Managing Director at BLI.  “While the price point of these refilled cartridges is attractive, our tests clearly demonstrate that their average reliability and page yield are grossly inferior to that of the OEM cartridges.”


The BLI study involved a total of 540 cartridges—108 new HP cartridges and 432 refilled cartridges from multiple outlets of four major refill service providers (‘refillers’) in the New York metropolitan area. The refillers used in the study were Cartridge World, OfficeMax, Walgreens and INK-O-DEM refill machines (located at Ace Hardware and other locations). 


Cartridges from each refiller and from HP were tested in three different HP models that were selected to represent current, previous-generation and older HP inkjet printers. 


On average, the Original HP cartridges yielded 133 percent more pages than the refilled cartridges tested. Depending on the cartridge type, Original HP cartridges yielded from 49 percent to 282 percent more pages than the refilled cartridges. The HP color cartridges produced an average of 205 percent more pages than the refilled cartridges, while the HP black cartridges produced 60 percent more pages than their refilled counterparts.1    


 “We consistently hear from customers who try refilled cartridges that the performance doesn’t measure up,” said HP Supplies Technology Specialist Thom Brown.  “They are often surprised to learn that all ink isn’t equal. HP spends three to five years and goes through up to 1,000 prototype formulas while engineering each cartridge it produces to ensure that the ink and the cartridge technology are optimized for consistent, reliable printing every time our customers hit print.”


In the reliability portion of the study, poor image quality was the most prevalent cause of the DOA failures. The inability to produce colors correctly (color mix) accounted for 69 percent of the DOA failures of the refilled color cartridges, with other causes including streaking, early fade, ink leaking and failure to print individual colors. With the refilled black cartridges, the most prevalent problem was unrecoverable streaking, which accounted for 60 percent of the refilled black cartridge DOA failures. 


To read the complete report, which was commissioned by HP, click here.  


1A Buyers Laboratory Inc. 2011 study commissioned by HP compared Original HP ink cartridges (60XL, 56A, 57A, 74XL and 75XL) with ink cartridges refilled by refill service providers and sold in North America. For details, see


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