Monday, July 17, 2006

Inkjet Printers -- Part of the "Hidden Economy"?

Boston Globe writer Christoper Shea writes about something a pair of economists call the "hidden economy". Their study combines printers with cell phones, car rentals, and hotels as products and services that are often less than straightforward in their pricing, with unwitting consumers ending up paying much more than they're led to believe up front. Their example of the printer buyer: "...how many people realize, when they walk out of CompUSA, a nice $99 inkjet model tucked under their arm, that it's likely they've just committed themselves to spending nearly $1,500 on ink cartridges over the next four years?"

Their advice? The first part is one I also subscribe to: "...your best bet is to be a sophisticate..." when it comes to understanding your total cost of ownership. The next part engenders a little less enthusiasm from me: "Print in draft mode, don't gratuitously print things that you don't need, and when in doubt, print at work. Those simple pieces of advice will save you about $500 a year." For one, printing at the workplace is a good idea, if it's for work! And $500 a year? Savings? That's a ton of ink!

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