Typically, ink cartridges are very expensive. Many people, therefore, use compatible ink cartridges (those made by a company other than the printer manufacturer) that can sometimes match the quality, but usually much cheaper. Another alternative involves modifications that allow the use of continuous ink systems that use external ink tanks. Some people choose to use aftermarket inks. They can refill their own ink cartridge, buy aftermarket remanufactured brands, or take them to a local refiller.
Ink cartridges, however, can be overridden, as some printers refuse to print when the printer claims the ink is low. It has been found that if you over-ride you could print up to 38% more good quality pages, even though the chip stated that the cartridge was empty. In the United Kingdom, in 2003, the cost of ink has been the subject of an Office of Fair Trading investigation, as a consumer magazine had accused manufacturers of a lack of transparency about the price of ink and called for an industry standard for measuring ink cartridge performance. This magazine stated that some cartridges cost over seven times more than vintage champagne per milliliter!!
Consumers are often surprised at the price of replacing their printer cartridges, especially when compared with that of purchasing a brand new printer. The major printer manufacturers, Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Dell, Canon, Epson and Brother, often break even or lose money selling printers and expect to recoup their losses by selling cartridges over the life span of the printer. Since much of the printer manufacturers' profits are made up of ink and toner cartridge sales, some of these companies have taken various actions against aftermarket cartridges, so far with not much success.