Inkjet cartridges are an amazingly expensive item to purchase, especially if you buy the manufacturer's brand. In an effort to offer some competition, a whole slew of online stores offering cheaper knock-offs and refurbished cartridges have sprung up. ABCink.com is one of the better known ones. Does the product and service compete with the name brand product found in your local office supply chain? Read on, dear reader....
•• What it is ••
ABCink.com is an internet retailer of name brand and generic inkjet cartridges, laser toner, CD/DVD media, labels and other stuff I had no interest in. Abcink.com is owned by Meritline.com.
•• The Website ••
The website of ABCink.com is surprisingly similar to every other online inkjet cartridge retailer specializing in knock-offs. In my search for the best price, I looked at 123inkjets.com, Printcountry.com, 4inkjets.com and they all had a similar, yet very useful design to locate the cartridges I needed for my Lexmark X85 (which has subsequently been trashed due to it being a streaming pile of poo). Simply select the manufacturer and then the model number and it gives a listing of all compatible products.
I chose to go with ABCink.com because they had a combo pack deal that featured 3 color cartridges and a black cartridge. This was exactly what I needed. The cartridges were advertised as refurbished, which means they had been refilled. This means they are cheaper, but you run a certain risk of them not being properly filled or being abused.
I've always used refurb and knock-off cartridges and never had a problem so I didn't even blink when considering them. Add on free shipping and no sales tax, plus a coupon, and I had a set of 4 cartridges for under $60 shipped. This is an excellent deal since Lexmark brand cartridges run $35-$40 each.
Checkout was pretty basic, secure and worry-free. Right after I submitted the order, I got a confirmation email. The email was short and contained my order summary and order number in case I needed to talk to customer service.
So far, so good.
•• Delivery and Quality ••
A day later, I got a shipment notification telling me the order had been shipped. Included was a UPS tracking number. As expected, I got the package on the day the UPS site said I would. It was in a plain brown box with 3 small boxes floating amongst styrofoam peanuts. There was no physical damage to the boxes. They had been packed and shipped securely. Also included int he box, was a small syringe and tube of clear liquid. Before calling Homeland Security, I noticed there was a small piece of paper telling me that these extras were a head cleaner and solvent. A nice freebie, but for their own benefit as much as mine. They make it pretty clear that if the cartridge does not work, try cleaning it first, before returning it.
When I opened the box, I noticed that it indeed was generic. No brand to speak of, but it looked like the old dead cartridge I had just pulled out. I popped in the new cartridge and.... Nothing. The printer didn't recognize it. I took it out, cleaned the contact points, put it back in. Nothing. The printer saw no color cartridge. I rebooted, unplugged the printer, plugged it back in, ran a cleaning cycle. Nothing. As a test, I put the old cartridge back in. The printer recognized it immediately and promptly complained that it was empty. I ripped open a new box, put the cartridge in.
The printer would not recognize 2 out of the 3 cartridges I bought. This is not good. I opened the 3rd one. And indeed it was recognized! Yay! I printed a test page and looked at the results. I wanted to cry. The red looked more wine-ish, the yellow like mustard and the blue was off as well. I ran a clean cycle and reprinted. Same results. The cartridge had either been refilled with the wrong colors or mislabelled. Indeed, these colors were for a supplemental cartridge used for photo printing. In short, it was the wrong cartridge.
At this point, my wife is way annoyed at me and ABCink.com. She relies on this printer for her home based business and for something so lame as this to happen.. So I sent a rather strong message back to ABCink.com demanding my money back and a pre-paid mailer to send the defective cartridges back. 2 days later I got a reply in broken Engrish asking me to explain the problem and to verify my printer model so they could make sure I ordered the right one. Had I somehow made the mistake, I would be charged a 15% restocking fee. I gave them the requested info and 2 days later I got a reply with an RMA number. They would refund my credit card when they got the stuff back and verified I hadn't broken it. But they said they wouldn't pay for shipping back to them. This annoyed the hell out of me because not only do I have no cartridges, I'm out the $8 to ship it back. If I had made the mistake, this would be understandable. But since the mistake was theirs, there is no reason I should have to pay for shipping of anything.
So I sent the product back to them via UPS. They got the package when it was expected to arrive and the refund was given promptly one day after. I was sent an email confirming this. When all was said and done, I was out $8. In principal this is most unacceptable. I won't be shopping there again, simply because I can't guarantee the product will be right. And if I have to take a loss every time they screw up, it just isn't worth it. Remember all those other inkjet cartridge retailers I mentioned? ABCink.com should recognize there is a ton of competition and do better with their return policy.
•• Conclusion ••
The purchase process was painless and clear and the product arrived as expected. However due to the order being wrong/defective and their poor return policy, I can't recommend them.
What product did you purchase or try to purchase? inkjet cartridges