Editorial: Print this out – shopping smart is good for your wallet

Sunday Supplement
The editor voices his views on Moray’s most topical events of the past week…..

Editor’s new printer – £30 cheaper by shopping smart

Technology might well have improved our lives immeasurably but it has also brought with it a raft of new methods for criminals to part us from our hard earned cash.

Many have read this week how Moray Trading Standards have brought successful prosecutions of residents using social media as a means of selling fake designer goods.

It has to be said of course that the majority of those who purchased these goods probably knew that they were not buying the genuine article – all the same, such practices are illegal and for very good reasons.

There are many more ways of unscrupulous people using clear online methods to dupe unsuspecting customers – but it is not just the crooks who are at it, highly respected companies are not averse to a little ‘word twisting’ to present things as being the bargain of a lifetime when they are often nothing of the sort.

The thing is when used properly online shopping can be an absolute joy – not to mention the fact that some very real bargains can be had if you go about things in the correct way.

A great example of modern marketing ‘tricks’ can be seen in the computer hardware market – specifically, printers. We have all seen how printer hardware has fallen in price to the point that they are practically giving the things away – or are they?

In fact it is not the hardware cost that you should be looking at first when purchasing a printer – it is the consumables, specifically the ink cartridges they use. These can often almost match the price you pay for the printer itself – it is not unusual for a new set of colour cartridges to cost between £15-£25 or more – and if you print on a regular basis, it will not take long to use up the ink.

That of course is what the manufacturers bargain on – and if you dare buy ‘compatible brands’ at a cheaper price, they now give you dire warnings that you are in danger of losing your printer altogether as doing so will surely wreck your printer and possibly burn your house down if you are to believe the rhetoric!

The answer for many who just want to print in good old black and white is a laser printer, again fairly cheap but with replacement ink that need not cost an arm and a leg and will last a great deal longer.

Major retailers know this of course – which is why you will be hard pushed to see such printers being offered for sale at local Tesco, Asda or PC World stores.

You can buy them online of course – and here is the final lesson I learned for myself this week. When you decide to do that, find the printer you think suits you first – and then, and only then, search for it via various online retailers.

Chances are you will be stunned. Example – HP Laserjet P1102 printer, listed by Argos at £99 so I was happy and almost paid there and then. Only a quick check revealed the same printer for £87 at Tesco. Then another look discovered it on Amazon for £69. So a saving of £30 after just five minutes work.

Then to the ink – replacement cartridges bought from HP – £39. Look around and discovered ‘compatible’ cartridges for £6.50 from a firm used in the past and proven to be every bit as good as the £39 variety.

Of course the main message I would love to put out is one of ‘shop local’ – but there are just some things that shopping local simply cannot match, so shop around online but don’t rush in and don’t fall for the con stars.

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