Those who own or manage home offices or small businesses understand all too well that, over time, even the smallest of necessities can become a monumental expense. The printer ink cartridge is certainly one of those expensive necessities. With prices averaging $25.00 for a black color cartridge and up to $45.00 for tri-color cartridges, maintaining even 3 to 5 printers in a small office can become quite costly. Just ten short years ago, manufacturers refused to admit that many popular printers contained cartridges that could indeed be manually refilled. Now that the secret is out there are, thankfully, a few cost-saving options from which to choose.
Purchase an ink refill package and perform the somewhat messy injection procedure. Prices for black color refill kits average around $10.00, and prices for tri-color kits average up to $15.00. While prices may vary per store, refill kits are available at stores such as Walgreens, Walmart, Target, Big Lots and most large office supply stores. Be sure to check the package jacket for your printer make and model. Not all printer ink cartridges can be refilled using the rather low-quality ink that comes as part of these packages.
Over 3000 Walgreens Drugstores nationwide offer 1-hour ink cartridge refill services over the photo counter. Prices are very reasonable at $10.00 for a black color refill and $15.00 for a tri-color. In addition, the Walgreens service includes a complete cleaning of the cartridge as well as a print test after the refill to make sure everything is in order. Currently, Walgreens provides ink refills for the following printers only: Dell, HP, Lemark, Okidata, Primera, Sharp and Xerox.
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Both Office Max and Staples have offered ink refill drops and "while-you-wait" services in the past, but every location is different and the services are not advertised. For those interested in refilling at these stores, it is best to check with customer service first. Many stores offer a recycle drop for used cartridges with a $3.00+ coupon towards a new cartridge given for the "green" environmental gesture.
All Staples stores do offer a program, both on and offline, called InkDrop. InkDrop is basically a recycle program that sends new ink cartridges to customers who mail in their empties using the prepaid envelopes that came with their last new ink purchase. The idea is that, by mailing the empties back in a timely manner, the customer's printer will never go dry. Except for eliminating a trip to the local Staples, the price of the mailed cartridges is the same via InkDrop as it is in-store.