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How To Spot A Counterfeit Ink Cartridge

2010-06-09

Counterfeiting is a global enterprise that affects any profitable industry. Since printer ink cartridge sales are a multi-billion dollar industry, with a growth rate of some eight percent annually, it's only to be expected that counterfeiters would look greedily on this market, and seek to tear off some of it for themselves and their illegitimate products.

And, they're making inroads. A trade organization, The Imaging Supplies Coalition, says one out of twenty brand name printer ink cartridges bought in the US is fake. If you suspect your cartridge is not genuine, you can send it to them to test it and determine if it's a fraud. The group says half of the submissions turn out to be fake, as opposed to 18 percent a decade ago. In areas of Mexico and the Middle East, fully half the cartridges on sale are counterfeit.

So, how can a consumer be sure he or she isn't buying a counterfeit ink cartridge? The short answer, unhappy as it is, before you install it in your machine and see how it performs, is not much. Buying from a reputable retailer is no guarantee, since these goods make their way into the supply stream long before the retailer sees it. While some manufacturers have designated retailers who they certify as carrying genuine Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) goods, none of the major manufacturers are forthcoming about how much and where counterfeit ink is being sold, even when they know, and have confiscated bad stock or pressed charges. They don't want to risk a plunge in consumer confidence that would occur if their brand name became associated with shoddy goods that could potentially damage their machines.

Common sense and a sharp eye are the only defenses again buying counterfeit ink cartridges. First, if the price seems abnormally low, that's a red flag you should pay attention to. Second, is the inspecting of the item closely to see if there is anything unusual about the shape, or the printing on the unit, that catches your eye. Major manufacturers are very particular about their manufacturing standards, so any discrepancies in shape or color or printing should also sound the alarm.

Despite your best efforts to buy a genuine OEM ink cartridge, there's still decent chance you'll unwittingly purchase a counterfeit and will install it in your machine. This is where you must pay attention to the quality of printing. Smudges, blotches, blurriness of the image, or faded colors are indications of fraudulent goods. Running out of ink very quickly is another. Unfortunately, there is a small but distinct possibility that you won't know you have a counterfeit ink cartridge until it damages your machine.

So pay attention when you buy - your best defense is your own good sense.