Third-Party Toner Versus OEM: Why Do Business with the OEM?

There are two sides to every argument. In the case of offering OEM-produced toner as opposed to third-party product, office technology dealers and resellers need to weigh a number of options when managing their accounts, not the least of which is price.

In this week’s look at consumables, our state of the industry feature for February, we will take a look at the arguments in favor of using toner product produced by OEMs. Not to fear, we will offer up the third-party perspective in next week’s newsletter.

Joe Contreras,

The onslaught of third-party toner and compatible cartridges has certainly created a price-competitive marketplace, notes Joe Contreras, vice president of product and solutions marketing for Toshiba. While these products may provide a lower operating cost, dealers, resellers and end users should consider the bigger picture and affect to their overall business.

Loyalty and Peace of Mind

“From a reseller or dealer standpoint, you have to view consumables as one part of the equation and determine what best meets the client’s and your objectives,” he said. “Through our MPS programs, we not only support and supply consumables for our own products but Lexmark, HP and other brands that we service and manage. What we have found is that clients prefer OEM brands because there’s that peace of mind and trust factor.”

Toshiba and many OEMs offer programs that incent customers for their loyalty and provide benefits beyond simply the consumables. Understanding the available incentives and benefits associated with long-term loyalty can provide the clarity needed before locking in to long-term contracts.


Charles Brewer,
Actionable Intelligence

OEMs obviously have their own bias, but they’re not alone in touting the virtues of their consumables. Charles Brewer, president of Actionable Intelligence, believes OEM product is inherently superior to third-party offerings.

“They have a lot of advantages. Their stuff is bulletproof; you can’t get any better than OEM product in terms of image quality and page yields,” he said. “Some third-party firms have doctored their cartridges up, they use bigger toner hoppers to get a better page yield. But for overall operations, reliability, image quality, the OEM is the best. They also have very tight relationships with their channels. They pay a lot of money in rebates and invest big marketing dollars into the channel to ensure (dealers and resellers) continue to be loyal to OEM and not go with any type of third-party product, whether it’s new build or reman. They offer strong channel programs.”

Greg Chavers, Lexmark

Greg Chavers, vice president, North America Channel Sales for Lexmark, points to a study done by Keypoint Intelligence ­­­- Buyers Lab that illustrated third-party supplies did not measure up to OEM standards. The December 2016 study pitted Lexmark’s Unison toner against a set of third-party toner formulations in an MS610 printer, and it found that the Unison toner “…consistently outperformed the third-party brands tested, providing more pages and high quality, reliable printing from start to finish,” wrote Marlene Orr, BLI director, Office Equipment Product Analysis.

Chavers pointed to a number of factors that can impede the success of third-party consumables. “Dead on arrival cartridges, significant toner leaks, poor page performance, paper jams and end-user client downtime aren’t really worth any so-called savings,” he said. “It’s always best to use OEM supplies and parts.”

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.