Staples Will Pay for Your Printer Trash (Again)

In case you haven’t already seen the ads on TV, Staples is once again giving customers $3 for any empty ink or toner cartridge they bring in.  Like OfficeMax and many other large office supply chains, Staples has gone back and forth in recent years about their policy regarding rebates for empties. They ran virtually the same offer five years ago, but then presumably realized that this was a bad business practice, because folks like me were recouping 33% of our ink costs through this program (I had a six-cartridge Canon i9100, and each cartridge only cost $9).

Shortly thereafter, Staples starting accepting only the more costly brands like HP and Epson, which combine multiple ink colors into one large cartridge.  Now, it seems, they’re back to their original policy, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.  Maybe it’s because they want to look “green”.  Maybe it’s a recession-booster.  Either way, I’ve got two Canon printers now, for a total of ten cartridges (the monthly limit).  I can swap out the whole set and get $30 back toward the mailing supplies I’ve been waiting to buy.  Sweet.

There is one catch with the new promotion: you have to be a Staples Rewards member.  They used to just give you a coupon in the store, but it took the cashiers so long to fill it out I never returned my cartridges if there was a line.  Now they send a monthly coupon in the mail to the address on file for your rewards account. I still have my “Rewards for Teachers” account that I set up five years ago, but they have accounts for individuals and businesses, too.  I have never received any unsolicited promos because of my Rewards account but again, I have one for teachers, which is a personal, not a compnay account.  They may also have changed their privacy policy since then, so it makes good sense to check before you sign up.  You do get 10% back on your new ink purchases as well, but they send those coupons separately from the ones for your empties, and only when you’ve earned at least $10 (i.e. bought $100 worth of ink).

One Comment

  1. My local staples people kept trying to talk me in to this and it seemed to good to be true (since I inexplicably have a drawer full of empty cartridges). The only major catch I can find is that they only send you a check once your reward balance reaches $10 AND your balance expires once a “calendar year”. So I’m not sure I’ll shop there often enough to get any rewards, but I am planning to cash in my many ink cartridges.

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