Few of us buy imitation print supplies on purpose. Some look virtually identical to the genuine article - even down to the labels and the packaging. Unscrupulous resellers have even been known to bundle inauthentic cartridges with real ones, placing the latter at the top of the box to convince you that everything is above board.
There are ways to tell if you've bought imitation ink or toner. The packaging may seem to have already been opened. The packaging might not use the normal text or colours and any images may look a little blocky or fuzzy, as if they've been rescanned from the originals. If there are particles of toner inside the box or wrapper or the seals are broken or missing, then that's a dead giveaway.
HP has a system of QR codes that enable you to check a cartridge's authenticity, plus a holographic label you can check.
However, in the day to day running of a business or an IT team, you might not always find the time to check whether a cartridge is genuine or imitation.
In fact, if end-users tend to replace spent cartridges themselves, you might not even see them before they're installed in a printer. Even here, though, there are clear indications that something isn't right.
If any of the following rings a bell, you might want to make further checks.
Fewer printouts: Do you seem to be printing fewer pages before you have to change a cartridge? Are you having to change cartridges more frequently than normal?
That's a good sign that your cartridges might not be legitimate.
Imitation manufacturers often fill their cartridges with less ink or toner than the originals, while different mechanisms and low-quality formulations will mean that you're unlikely to get the same page yield. Even some legitimate, third-party cartridges have been shown in studies to produce 40 per cent fewer pages than authentic HP cartridges.
It makes sense for businesses to use some kind of print management system to track what you're printing, which printers are being used most and who is printing what. HP Web JetAdmin, for example, has tools to monitor all your print consumables.
If you don't use any software, however, use a spreadsheet or even a written count to track when you're replacing your supplies. If you still have some existing, authentic HP cartridges, use them as a benchmark to measure other cartridges against.
See next page for the other two giveaway signs that your print supplies are not genuine.