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epson r800 notes – the price of ink

3rd December 2004 permanent link

I’m delighted with the colour prints from my Epson R800. Haven’t worked out how to consistently get decent black & white from it yet, but I haven’t really had time to experiment. Here’s the state of the ink after just over a hundred 6x4s and a few A4 prints:

Epson ink levels

As you can see, the inks are being used at very different rates, and I’m clearly in my Magenta-Cyan Period.

There’s another big print job coming up in preparation for our Christmas visit to Maria’s family in Russia, and I didn’t want to run out of ink in mid-batch. It was clearly time to stock up.

If you’re reading this in the States and you think Epson ink & paper are expensive, you’ll feel much better if you look at European prices. An ink cartridge for an R800 is $12.95 at Adorama; the offers on start at €15.69 for the genuine article. A euro is $1.33 at the moment, so that’s $20.82 – 60% more expensive. (Quoted prices in Europe always include sales tax at 16%, and quoted prices in America don’t. So OK, only nearly 50% more).

I don’t want to have to go through this whole painful feeling-like-I’m-being-ripped-off-or-worrying about-orders-arriving-from-America experience again too soon, so I decide to get four magentas and cyans and two or three of everything else: total 23 cartridges. Adorama want $48 to ship 23 cartridges from America; the guy who’s already 60% more expensive on wants €80 to ship them from somewhere in Germany. So bugger him. In total I would save €130 by ordering from Adorama. There might be an unknown amount of customs duty to add to that, but I still look likely to come out ahead.

As it turns out, the box from Adorama arrives in three days with no customs charges. UPDATE: no it doesn’t. A week later an invoice arrives from UPS for €69 customs duty and sales tax. So I’m still ahead of the game, but nowhere near as much as I thought I was.

I notice this huge price difference seems to be an Epson thing; Hewlett Packard(*) inks are only slightly more expensive here than in the States. And I presume it is Epson’s fault – if it were possible to make a profit selling them at the American price in Europe somebody would.

(*) So with the €130 I just saved I could buy an HP7660 with a greyscale cartridge and not have to faff about trying to get decent black & white photos out of a colour printer. I would just need to convince Maria that I have a legitimate need for three printers – colour photo, black & white photo and a laser for letters, seems perfectly reasonable to me – and find space for it in the fenced-off corner of the living room that is my toddler-safe studio.

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