The Most Expensive Liquid On The Face Of The Earth

Or at least it feels that way to me! This little vial of fluid is about two thirds of an ounce and it costs $39.95 in US dollars at the superstore. That translates to over $7,500 per gallon! It costs more than the fanciest bottled water, more than the most purified jet fuel, more than Dom Perignon champagne, more than the most refined gasoline, even more than human blood. What is it? Printer ink.

Why do companies charge so much for such a little bit of fluid in a plastic case with a few tiny electronic components? Micro chips are a dime a dozen, plastic is dirt cheap, and the dyes used in printer ink aren’t very expensive either. What gives?

Marketers have learned that they can maximize their gross profit for items that:

1. Aren’t purchased very regularly. Think salt, tuxedos, wedding dresses, musical instruments, or furniture.

2. Are small. Think jewels, cell phones, lipstick, or electronics.

3. Are needed by a captive audience. Think of airport food, pharmaceuticals, stadiums.

4. Aren’t sold in many other outlets. Think Yankee’s tickets, “not sold in stores” infomercials, aircraft manufacturers,

5. Are exclusively theirs to sell. Think public utilities (unregulated ones), Debeers (diamonds), Alcoa (aluminum), and Amtrak.

Printer ink cartridges don’t necessarily meet all these criteria, but it’s pretty darn close. Even in a society obsessed with “going paperless,” it seems like I’m printing more and more things these days: reports, photos, e-books, to name a few examples.

To get my ink at a more reasonable price, I’ve started using Carrot Ink (mostly for the free shipping) though there are several other printer ink sites that also have some great deals.

Check these out:

The price of ink from Carrot Ink has been consistently lower than the office superstores. I’m saving HALF or even MORE. A black cartridge was only $11.95 for my printer (regularly $27.95) and a color cartridge was only $19.95 (regularly $39.95).

If you need printer ink, or if you’re sending someone off to college, a couple of printer ink cartridges will make a great gift, making that expensive vial of liquid a little more affordable.

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