How I Messed Up My Laser Printer With Generic Toner

I’ve heard the joke time and time again, “printer cartridges cost more than gold.” Whether you have an inkjet or a laser printer, sometimes the initial printer is fairly inexpensive, but the real cost comes later when purchasing ink or toner cartridge replacements.

A few years back, I received a nice raise from my employer. To celebrate I decided to do something out of character and buy something a little frivolous. The inkjet printer I had was nice, but the cartridges emptied quickly and cost $55 per color. I’ve wanted a colored laser printer since they first came out and since laser printer prices came down considerably over the years, I knew what my splurge was going to be.

Then, it ran out of toner.

Each of the four toner cartridges for the CMYK colored laser printer cost over $75 a piece. I jumped on Amazon and found a generic replacement that included all four toner cartridges for $99. They worked great.

Three years later, I jumped back on Amazon to buy another set of CMYK laser toner cartridges, only the manufacturer no longer existed. I found another generic set for $55.99, plus a $10 off coupon. It seemed too good to be true and it was. Six months into using the new generic laser toner cartridges, I started seeing yellow streaks. Then it got so bad, the printed documents became unusable.

Laser printer with leaked red and yellow toner everywhereI opened up the laser printer to troubleshoot and discover the red and yellow toner cartridges leaked. Toner was everywhere. It was even leaking down into the paper compartment.

It was impossible to get all the leaked toner out of the printer. I unplugged the printer and used canned air, microfiber cloths, and tiny paint brushes. Even if I took apart every piece of the printer, there would still be leaked toner stuck on places, so I did my best with what I could.

I decided to avoid Amazon all together with my next order, as even  the laser toner cartridges labeled “genuine” had plenty of comments saying they were not. The printer manufacturer did not have them on their website, so I decided to try Staples. My stomach felt queasy as I ordered four genuine CMYK laser toner cartridges at a cost of $315.87 with tax. I was hoping to save up for another frivolous purchase in a few months and buy a PlayStation 5 (PS5), so I could play games online with my nieces. Instead, I had four laser toner cartridges and a printer covered in yellow and red toner powder that might never print nicely again.

I’ll keep you posted on the results. What printer nightmares have you experienced?