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Do Ink Jet Cartridge Prices Make You See Red?

Boot Camp feature for Monday, May 20, 2002

Do ink jet cartridge prices make you see red? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The European Union has launched an investigation into the prices being charged by Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Epson, Canon and others... .for those replacement ink jet cartridges. For years, the manufacturers have been cutting printer prices, making their profits from what they call the consumables. At a company called Rhinotek, which has been manufacturing 3rd party replacement cartridges for years, founder and chairman Gerald Chamales calls the printer companies a cartel...

"And Rhinotek's goal is to bust up the ink and toner cartels and be the fifth brand. Our vision is to be the first alternative price point, promotionally branded cartridge for the U.S. consumer."

My email in box is full of offers from companies selling discount cartridges... .but Chamales says printer makers are doing all they can to block the competition... and preserve those thirty and forty dollar cartridge prices...

"Well we're in a compatible business and the major OEM printer manufacturers have aggressively pursued almost a street fight tactic of trying to prevent us from existing. They put computer chips in the print cartridges today to try to thwart after market manufacturers. The consumer deserves, we believe, a fair choice."

But is it fair... since the printers themselves are discounted and sometimes sold at a loss? Chamales is hoping the U.S. will join the European Union in the investigation. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.