Moved this to the photo printing/processing forum, since it may better fit into this category.
I don't know that I've ever seen a full "knock-off" toner cartridge. Because of the costs involved, I believe most toner carts are completely recycled by either the manufacturer or third-party vendors. Note that almost all Minolta toner carts come with the ARS labels for return service via UPS, where shipping is paid by the manufacturer. I know a local service in Dallas used to accept HP laser cartridges, clean them, and then refill them, finally reselling as "compatible" or something similar. There's actually another term that starts with "re" and I can't seem to remember it. Maybe "refreshed" toner cartridges?
In a related conversation, you had also emailed this to me recently:
just asking - will it be cheaper for me to buy a set of toner cartridges from USA for my 5440DL than buying in UK? i see a version of the toner kit costing about $340 - ebay 360192097474. not sure if this is a high yield kit or not, whereas in UK, a K kit is already £100 and a CMY kit is £729 !!!! will a "manufacturer refurbished" item do the job? ebay 370511150251, apparently high yield CMYK kit. let me know.
In USA, toner is far more expensive in local stores. (I understand that local stores need employees, pay rent, etc -- but so do online stores.) A low-capacity black Minolta cartridge, for example, is the same price in store as the high-capacity cartridges online, which have 3x more toner! That's not just a higher price, but a mild case of financial rape. Toner is never on sale, and none of the coupons work towards toner purchases (fine print always excludes it).
In terms of lower cost in USA vs UK, it probably just varies month to month. I've noticed for many years now that prices in Europe seem to be somewhat volatile for electronics, especially blank media and video hardware. Comparing even Amazon.com toner cartridges
to Amazon.co.uk toner cartridges
, I see comparable pricing (after currency exchange, of course).
On the other hand, let's compare two specific cartridges:
Compare the high-yield black (12,000 page @ 5% coverage) Minolta 5440 toner refill cartridges:
, average price ~£180, http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/redirect....creative=19450
, average price ~$185, http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.ht...reative=390957
Now compare the high-yield colors (cyan, magenta, black) Minolta 5440 refill toner cartridges:
.co.uk, average price ~£270, http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/redirect....creative=19450
.com, average price $450, http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.ht...reative=390957
In the case of the black, the number match without currency conversion. Since the GBP is higher than the USD, the UK black cartridge is obviously more costly. However, when it comes to the color Minolta toner cartridges, $450 USD = ~£275, so the price is basically identical. And to be honest, the black UK cartridge may simply be poorly priced. So no, I don't think you'll save anything by shopping for this product "across the pond".
Not unless you just happen to find a double-secret awesome sale with stacked coupons, and get a good reduced shipping rate on top of it. And while that can happen on certain types of items, I don't think toner/ink refills will ever be one of them. To some degree, it's a non-competitive marker, and prices are almost monopolistic. It doesn't help that printers are generally loss-leader items, and the real profits come from the sale of toner and ink cartridges.