3 Reasons You’re Overpaying for Printing (Solutions) 

Submitted by Mary Shamburger on Mon, 01/09/2023 - 09:00

Did you know that the average employee prints 34 pages a day? And of those 34 pages, 17% of them go to waste?  

That statistic, courtesy of Offix, is one of the fundamental reasons why you could be overpaying for printing. 

Being that unmanaged printing costs can take up almost 3% of your company’s annual revenue, it is both an area of improvement and an opportunity if you’re looking to save money on your business’s bottom line.  

We’ve been in the printer/copier industry for close to 40 years and have helped hundreds of clients decrease their printing costs. Along the way, we’ve learned the most common reasons that you might be overpaying for printing and have found solutions for each. 

In this article, we will tackle the three most frequent causes of overpaying and will offer solutions that you can implement right now to start changing your printing behavior to be more financially sustainable. 

The 3 Most Common Reasons You're Overpaying for Printing

Here are the three most typical explanations for why you could be paying more than you should for printing, and solutions to help you resolve it: 

1. Prints Registering as Color   

The number one reason you could be overpaying for printing is that your prints might be mistakenly registering as color prints rather than black and white. 

Color prints are more expensive than black and white (B&W) prints and they can make a noticeable difference on your printing bill. 

For example, a commercial multifunction (print, copy, scan, fax) printer (MFP) will cost about $0.017 per B&W print and about $0.11 per color print. These numbers are seemingly small, but if you accidentally print hundreds of color prints, instead of B&W, the cost will add up fast. 

MFPs will often print in color when emails and documents have a tad bit of color, like an email signature. The machine finds this bit of color and reads the print as a color job, charging you for color as well.   

What’s the Solution?  

So, what do you do if your prints are accidentally registering as color? 

The simplest and most common way to control unnecessary color prints/copies is to default the machine to black-and-white at the unit and on the printer driver.  

The best way to diagnose and fix this issue is to check your manufacturer’s user permissions.  

The manufacturer, or brand of your machine, will likely have settings you can access in a web browser that will allow you to see and control the types of prints being made on your printer. 

For example, Xerox, whose products we sell, has its own settings called Xerox User Permissions that will let you restrict certain websites or documents from printing in color.  

Xerox User Permissions also allow for controlling 1 or 2 side printing, individual printing, app management, and more. These controls will ensure money is not being wasted on unnecessary prints.   

Some manufacturers have standard features, like Xerox Color Tracking, that could be available to you depending on the type of machine you have. 

You can even go a step further than that and invest in print management software, like Y-Soft or PaperCut, if you wanted more advanced print tracking to cut down on costs. We will go through this more in the next section.  

2. Overprinting  

As discussed earlier, each employee prints an average of 34 pages per day, with 17% of those prints going to waste. That adds up to a lot of wasted pages, which means wasted money. That’s why it’s crucial to monitor and regulate your office printing habits.   

There may be clues scattered throughout the office that indicate wasteful printing habits. These include bins full of unclaimed documents, web pages and emails printed in full color and unnecessary printing of documents that could be routed digitally.  

What’s the Solution?   

The best way to track and analyze office and individual printing habits is through print management software, where there are several options available, including InfoFlo Print, PaperCut or Y-Soft SafeQ Print Management Suite.  

Print management software gives you the tools necessary to make data-based decisions about your print environment to reduce print costs, increase document security, and improve workflows for employee productivity.  

For example, print management software allows you to individually track employee printing behavior to see where overprinting might be occurring. It will also afford you the ability to set numerical limits on prints.  

Say you wanted to cut down on color printing in your office. You could set the number of color prints your machine can print to a specific number for the month, and once your office reaches that number, you will not be able to make any more color prints for the month. 

Identifying the root of overprinting is virtually impossible without print management software because the software allows you to quantify problems and take action to make the necessary fixes based on the data. 

3. Cheaper Printers Are More Expensive to Run  

The thought of investing in an expensive MFP may deter some people from purchasing one. And that’s understandable; nobody wants to drop thousands of dollars on a printer.  

But the truth is while purchasing cheap printers from retail giants like Wal-Mart, Office Depot, or Amazon is more suitable in the short-term, it can be determinantal financially in the long run.  

Retail printers/copiers are cheaper to purchase upfront, but more costly to manage. While retail machines are good choices for those that need a printer on an as-needed basis, they can end up costing you in the future if you find that the retail option can’t handle your print volume. 

Let’s get into the three reasons why cheaper retail printers are more expensive to run in more detail: 

Printer Toner  

The first reason retail printers are costly to run is that they often lack the automatic shipments of toner you get when buying a commercial MFP from a vendor.   

If you buy a retail printer, you will have to purchase individual toners as needed. If you’ve ever bought toner for your printer, you know that the cost of toner can be expensive and add up quickly.   

For commercially bought printers, automatic toner shipments can be included as a part of your monthly payment under a leasing or service agreement with a vendor.  

If you need a printer for your business and plan on using it frequently, you will want to look into automatic toner shipments as a solution for your supplies. It can be a big money-saver and it ensures that you get the highest quality toner possible. 

Read our blog comparing automatic shipments of toner vs. buying your own to see which option would be right for you. 

Service Repairs  

An important thing to remember about retail-bought printers: They are built to be replaced, not fixed. Finding a service technician to fix cheap machines is next to impossible, and if you do, it can cost upwards of $100 an hour to get service—which is likely more than you paid for the machine itself. 

Commercial MFPs typically come with an onsite maintenance plan, usually around $12 per month, that includes access to tenured service technicians who are trained specifically to work on printers.  

If you use your printer long enough, service issues will inevitably come up. It’s important to have a solution for printer service in place so you don’t have to pay an unexpectedly high service bill later on. 

See the graphic below for details on what a maintenance or service plan can do for your company: 


Cost Per Copy  

In addition to higher supply and service costs, retail printers typically have a higher cost per copy than commercial printers. 

The cost per copy for black and white prints on a retail printer will cost about $0.035 per copy, while color prints will cost about $0.17. The cost per copy on a commercial MFP is about $0.017 per B&W copy and $0.11 per color copy. 

If you print documents regularly, the cost per copy can add up to be more than you expected.  

Things like toner, service and cost per copy are essential to consider when buying a printer. They contribute to the total cost of owning a printer and can be areas of overspending if you buy a cheap printer but print at a volume consummate with a commercial printer.   

If you need to buy a commercial printer, read our blog on the three tips for saving money on your next printer/copier

What’s Your Solution to Overpaying for Printing?  

Prints registering as color, overprinting and buying a cheap printer when you need a commercial one can contribute to an unnecessarily high printing bill.  

If you’re struggling with color prints or overprinting in general, the best solution will be to utilize user permissions and print management software to help diagnose and monitor printing behavior.   

If you’re currently using a retail printer but find that you’re overpaying for printing, the best long-term decision for your budget will be to make the switch to a commercial MFP that is better suited to handle your print volume. 

With commercial printers, you can typically lease or purchase the machine from a local vendor in your area. 

At STPT, we primarily service the greater North Texas area and can help you find the solution that will help cut down on your printing costs while bettering your overall print environment. 

If you’re not sure how much you are spending on printing costs, we offer assessments to analyze what you’re currently paying for printing and how we can help.   

Request a Quote and one of our team members will get back to you shortly with the next steps.