Ink Sticker

Some of the marketing efforts I’m most impressed by are the little, obvious things. I recently ordered some replacement ink cartridges from The Ink Factory (excellent service, by the way - next day delivery and cheap prices, as well as good quality non-OEM cartridges). I’ve ordered from them twice now - this time round I had to dig out their name from my email archives - searching Google for printer ink uk brings up a lot of sites. They’ve now sent me some tiny stickers, with their website and phone number printed on them, one of which has now gone on the inside of my printer hood. Next time, I won’t have to do that hunt. So obvious, so simple, so clever.

Of course, I barely use my printer these days, but that’s another story.

Update 2006-11-30: It appears Epson is trying to pursue some manufacturers and importers of cheap ink cartridges via the US legal system, alleging patent violation. It’s well known that printer manufacturers make a large portion of their profit from cartridges, so this shouldn’t be too surprising. I’m not sure I have a clear opinion on this issue.


Anton, I'm not convinced it's quite that simple. There's nothing stopping someone with a bit of imagination entering the market with a more expensive printer and cheaper cartridges: that's a free market. I suspect they'd do badly because most people are bad at estimating the total cost of ownership. In the meantime, if people continue to buy printers with expensive cartridges, that's their choice. What I have an issue with is Epson suing manufacturers for patent infringement when those patents are almost certainly frivolous (as I believe 90% of patents are). This doesn't protect innovation (the original objective of patent law), and it's an obvious and brazen attempt to make me pay more. Epson could be more subtle with their after-sales strategy if they want me to buy another printer from them. Games on consoles aren't a commodity like ink: each game is different. It's in the console manufacturer's interest to have a wide variety of titles available to stimulate demand for the console in the first place. Ink cartridges are pretty much a commodity (despite crap about 'premium' ink). Epson would rather you buy it from them at a big mark-up than a cheap store with 5% margins.
My opinion is very clear. It is wrong... Imagine if you had to buy overpriced petrol from Ford just because you bought your car from them. The petrol is all the same, just your car will only let you fill up from Ford. This is not an open market, and we should be trading in an open market... If the manufacturers are losing profits, they should increase the price of the printers themselves. (A similar argument could be made for all games consoles too. The manufacturers often sell them at a loss, but I have never heard of a games manufacturer being sued for selling a game for a console, though there may be other reasons for that)