Knowing How to Spot a Fake Ink or Toner Cartridge

You might have seen fake branded handbags and fake sunglasses sold around, but have you heard of fake ink and toner?

We’ve heard quite a few terror stories from people who have been fooled by cheap counterfeit ink and toner cartridges that claim to be the real HP, Canon, Brother or Epson brand. How do you know you’ve bought into a fake? Some of the main problem areas include ink or toner leaks, poor quality prints and in quite a few cases printer damage.

Here are some pointers about fake toner and ink cartridges you should know:

Looks like the real deal to the layman. Most fake cartridges are sold for some of the most popular brands and some of the hottest top-selling cartridges within that brand. HP and other major brands are usually targeted because there is a large demand for their cartridges. Today, creating a look alike is not a difficult thing to do and the unsuspecting layman will not be able to tell the difference between a fake and an original without looking very closely at what they’re getting.

Sophisticated duplication makes the job harder. The major brands have taken measures to ensure that they build in certain elements that mark the cartridge as an original. For example in the case of HP, they’ve incorporated the Hewlett-Packard logo, a secure seal and a tab that needs to be pulled before first-time use. However, even with all these precautions counterfeiters are smart and are able to re-create the same look and feel making it virtually impossible to distinguish an OEM from a fake.  Often the only way to judge a fake cartridge is by the print quality – however for the buyer that comes in a bit too late as the cartridge has been bought and the damage has been done.

Cost is a good indicator. In most cases the best way to differentiate a fake from an OEM (before you make the purchase) is to compare prices. Most OEM cartridges at physical locations and online web stores should have a price around the same ballpark area. A fake ink or toner cartridge on the other hand, does not have high-quality components, industry-grade ink or toner, or stringent testing to back it up, so it can (and in most cases will be) sold for a lot cheaper. If you spot an OEM for a ridiculously low price, that almost seems too good to be true, be cautious.

That’s not to say cost will always be a good indicator of a fake from an OEM.  Sometimes OEM printer ink is acquired by liquidators from companies that have gone bankrupt or who no longer need the products.  In this case cost can be lower but watch out – the product may be well beyond it’s expiration and warranty date and be much more likely to fail right out of the box despite it being an “OEM”.

Look for a trusted supplier. One major precaution you should take is to do your homework and due diligence before picking an ink and toner supplier. It’s best to stick to one supplier whom you trust and make all your purchases from a reputable company. Some suppliers like Island Ink-Jet and Laser Toners are able to sell OEM cartridges at very competitive prices because of the volumes they do, so you know they’re a safe choice even if their prices are low. They also offer customer reviews, support by web and phone, physical store locations and a one year warranty against defects so you know you’re covered.