It takes years to build a trusted supplier relationship with customers, but it only takes one small mistake for that close-knit partnership to break down.
Channel partners are under huge pressure to provide the best possible service according to their clients' budgets, and it can be tempting to opt for products that may look the same but certainly don't perform the same as the genuine articles.
Nothing is truer than when it comes to ink and toner cartridges, which should be a vital part of any company's sustainability plan, due to the ease in which they can be recycled if the genuine products are used.
Cutting corners by supplying imitation products will always come back to bite both suppliers and customers, albeit in different ways, but more often than not they will actually increase overall costs rather than help save money.
It is no secret that HP is clamping down on partners that are trading in counterfeit, cloned and imitation print cartridges but there is a good reason for that.
Not only are the sub-standard products violating intellectual property, which could spark litigation proceedings for patent violation, but they could result in serious fines and a loss of both business and certification status, as well as a tarnished reputation with the customer.
In addition, these suppliers are putting their customers' printers at risk by causing irreversible damage to the machines themselves and resulting in a costly replacement exercise. Hardly sustainable.
Also, the printers are churning out poor quality printed products that could damage the customers' own reputation within their core markets.
HP research has revealed that imitation HP toner cartridges typically cost up to 10 per cent more in the long-run in service, quality and reprints.
The same research demonstrated just how bad the products can be for a printer, with 49 per cent reported dead on arrival, or succumbing to early end of life.
Feedback from HP printer techs claimed that 22 per cent of non-HP cartridges resulted in printer damage, and can result in up to four times more service calls, which will ultimately destroy the trust between supplier and customer.
Gary Tierney, UK&I print category director at HP said: "Office supplies must play a vital role in every business' commitment to sustainability, yet some supply decision makers do not realise that their purchasing choices are actually undercutting sustainability efforts, while increasing business costs."
He added: "sustainability is no longer nice-to-have, but rather an absolute must-have for the purposes of recruiting, hiring and retaining talent, and ultimately ensuring the longevity of organisations."