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Buyer Beware from KYOCERA Document Solutions

KYOCERA Document Solutions has become the latest printer company to warn of the dangers of using compatible and clone printer consumables.

A new campaign aimed at end users and the trade encourages the use of genuine KYOCERA consumables and highlights the consequences of choosing nominally cheaper alternatives, from illegal clones to legitimate compatibles and remanufactured cartridges. PITR caught up with Jonathan Robbins, Consumables & Spares Manager at KYOCERA Document Solutions, to find out more.

PITR: What is the purpose of your campaign?

Jonathan Robbins, Consumables & Spares Manager, Kyocera Document Solutions
Jonathan Robbins, Consumables & Spares Manager, Kyocera Document Solutions

Robbins: We are trying to send a message out against compatibles in the market. Compatibles are causing damage to our products and to our company name. We want to highlight the reliability of genuine consumables and the problems that can arise from using compatibles.

PITR: What are some of those problems?

Robbins: TUV Rheinland in Germany tested a range of our products with both genuine and compatible toners. The machines fitted with compatibles had a number of problems: some actually caused damage – one third party toner damaged four developer units in two printers; three out of four compatible toners caused machine downtime, compared to none of the genuine cartridges; third party supplies produced up to 73% more waste toner; and there were up to nine times more nonusable prints when using compatibles.

PITR: Why are you launching the campaign now?

Robbins: More people are using compatible toner in our devices and we have noticed that the failure rate of machines under warranty for those that do is going up. People are experiencing poor quality prints, they are getting excessive jams, they are getting lots of waste paper and waste toner and this is down to the toner they put in the machine. Our campaign is to ensure that people who use our machines get the best out of them every time.
PITR: Is the use of compatibles a problem in the channel?

Robbins: Some dealers who are supplying compatible toners to their MIF are seeing an increase in their spares spend due to an increase in the failure rate. I’ve spent time with a couple of dealers who were buying compatibles but have now gone back to using genuine supplies because the compatibles they were using caused too many failures and used too much toner, which meant they had to provide replacements more often than they would have liked.

PITR: Why are more people using compatible toner in your devices?

Robbins: Because there are now a lot more compatible supplies for our products than there used to be. Before, compatible companies weren’t that interested in us, but as we have increased our market share, more and more manufacturers have come to the market with versions of our toner. And the route to market is much faster. Five years ago, it would be 18 months before the compatible manufacturer brought out a toner for a new product. Now, it takes just six months.

PITR: What proportion of consumables used in your machines are now third party?

Robbins: Context have analysed the distribution channel and what is being sold out to the end user and reseller markets, and they have calculated that 10% of consumables used in KYOCERA devices are compatibles. For some other manufacturers it would be about 25-30%. They have also looked at the counterfeit side, and that is very small – less than one percentage point.

PITR: Your technology is based on long-lasting components and the only replaceable element is the toner, so it must be easy for a company to produce a toner cartridge for one of your device

I've spent time with a couple of dealers who were buying compatibles but have now gone back to using genuine supplies
I’ve spent time with a couple of dealers who were buying compatibles but have now gone back to using genuine supplies

Robbins: and our own machines and there are things within the toner that protect the machine and make it last. Unlike devices that use all-: We manufacture our own toner in-one cartridges, KYOCERA machines have toner cartridges and separate drums and developers designed to last for 100,000 to 600,000 pages (depending on the model). If you put in toner that hasn’t been made for that machine it can cause damage to the drum and developer so that they don’t last as long as they should, and you can’t guarantee what the quality will be like over a long period of time.

PITR: Presumably the potential problems are even worse with counterfeit supplies.

Robbins: Yes. Compatibles are made legitimately and they have the manufacturer’s name on the packaging. However, a counterfeit toner is made to look genuine. The box will look exactly the same as genuine consumables; it will have the KYOCERA name on it and KYOCERA toner codes. People buy counterfeit toner because they see an advert for genuine consumables at a very low cost, but anything could be inside the toner. Some we’ve analysed have contained charcoal and iron filings. Just think of the damage that would do to your machine.

PITR: What are you doing to counter the counterfeiters?

Robbins: We have been training customs and excise officers at ports and airports to spot KYOCERA supplies that come into the UK through unexpected channels. All toner goes from Japan to Amsterdam and then into the UK through one port. If it enters by any other port, customs officers will alert our legal team. We have made several seizures in this way and have also followed the trail back to a plant in China and had it closed down.

PITR: Do you have holograms and QR codes to validate your supplies as genuine?

Robbins: We already have holograms on our toner containers to ensure they are genuine, and we are moving towards serialisation of our consumables so that we can reward people for buying genuine. This means that when a customer enters the serial number of a genuine toner on a web portal, we could offer a voucher or we could implement a reward scheme where you get one free toner for every x number you buy.

To fid out more about KYOCERA Document Solutions’ campaign and the TUV Rheinland toner test results, please visit