The National Conference on Weights and Measures met last weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. Florida Bureau of Weights and Measures chief Max Gray was there, pushing for tighter restrictions on the way printer ink cartridge manufacturers must label their products.
Currently, Big Ink doesn’t really have to say anything about how much mileage the typical user will get out of an ink or toner cartridge. Poking around manufacturer’s websites, you can glean some information, but it’s pretty hit-or-miss. “All of this lack of clarity into what should be required to be labeled on a printer ink cartridge or a toner cartridge used in copiers led me to feel that maybe this should be addressed,” Gray told American Public Media’s “Marketplace.”
But Lyra Research representative Charles Le Compte predicted in the same report that the printer manufacturers won’t like his meddling. “They realize it’s gonna set in motion a dynamic that will drive down cartridge prices over time. Which is what they fear the most — they like their business model.”
Consumer Reports’ computer tester Dean Gallea says ink is “probably one of the most expensive liquids that you can buy.” He says, therefore, that any possible regulation of labeling should focus on the number of pages a cartridge would produce, rather than the amount of ink — which can vary from one company to another.
No vote is due on the matter, at least until this summer. But consumers at least now know that one of the most expensive parts of their computers — and one that’s three times as profitable as PCs themselves for Hewlett-Packard — is coming under the microscope.