Beware of counterfeit brand-name cartridges!
There are four basic “brand” types of ink/toner cartridges:
1. Brand name cartridges that correlate to printer brands. These are called OEM products (Original Equipment Manufacturer.) Most OEM cartridges aren’t actually manufactured by the printer companies, but they are made to their specifications by contractors. Like any brand-name product, these are more expensive than non-brand-name items.
2. Brand-compatible cartridges. Legally these must be identified on the packaging and in advertising as distinct from their brand-name counterparts. Brand-compatible cartridges are often manufactured by the same companies that make the OEM products, using identical materials and processes. When purchased from a reputable dealer, these cartridges can usually be expected to serve as well as the more expensive brand-name versions.
3. Remanufactured, recycled cartridges, which also must be clearly identified as such. When processed by reputable manufacturers, these cartridges provide excellent quality for a considerably lower cost than OEM products.
4. Counterfeit OEM cartridges. These are packaged and sold as brand-name products, which is illegal, although it is also, sadly, all-too-common. Unlike real OEM products, or brand-compatible and remanufactured cartridges that are produced and sold by reputable companies, these fake OEMs are often made with inferior materials and shoddy construction that produce inferior printing quality and worse — a leaky or malfunctioning cartridge can cause serious damage to one’s printer.
How can you protect yourself from being victimized by counterfeit producers? Here are five things you can do:
1. Use your common sense. If a deal on “genuine OEM cartridges” sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true. Counterfeits are often offered for half the regular price of brand-names, which should be a red-flag warning that they are probably fakes. Again, remember that brand-compatible and refurbished cartridges are also economical, but if they are well-made by a reputable manufacturer, they will be clearly identified as what they are.
2. Buy cartridges only from reputable dealers who guarantee their products and services.
3. Don’t buy a cartridge that is not sealed in its package. If you buy online and receive a supposedly OEM product with open packaging or packaging that looks wrong (with misspellings, perhaps, or poor grammar), don’t risk damage to your printer by using it. Contact the seller immediately.
4. Some brands include serial numbers, which can be checked for authenticity at the company’s website.
5. If your nice, new OEM cartridge produces poor-quality copies, you should contact the seller — you may have unwittingly purchased a fake.