what is the price? $70-80? maybe a little more depending on the model of your printer and the kind of toner (color, or b/w). but what’s the cost of it? not many people stop to think about how the little things turn into big things. what seems like a small inconvenience can actually be a huge problem in disguise.

dare i say it—the cost of a used toner cartridge is more than the cost of a new one.

you’re a worker. you work hard every day. you’ve been working especially hard lately because there’s a lot of important work going on and you have to get it all done on time. so you drive into work one day and you log on to your computer, you check emails and some are worthwhile but most of them aren’t. then you get a phone call from your boss that a certain work item needs to get done, and it needs to be done yesterday.

hurriedly you start working and crunch numbers, or design a new prototype with changes from the client, or focus on a hardware emergency, and you get it done! crisis averted… or so you think.

when you finish your work and walk on over to the printer to get the report that has to be on your boss’ desk right now, you see a flashing message: “TONER LOW”. you—not being one to want to turn a mountain into a mole hill—figure, “this happens all the time, i’ll just shake the cartridge and it’ll print darker.” so you pop open the printer, do your ‘maintenance’ and head back to your desk to try printing again. you do, only this time there’s a paper jam because the cartridge wasn’t sitting right. so now you’re opening up secret passageways into the inner workings of your office printer that you should really not be looking at let alone touching, but a call to the help desk won’t resolve anything.

you find the problem, remove the paper, try printing again, and finally it prints—and this time it even prints well. you grab it, only to realize you have inky hands, and there’s now your fingerprints all over your paper. needless to say you’re quite agitated at the present moment. things do, finally, get situated and you angrily return to your desk, completely fed up with the whole debacle. a co-worker then asks you a question, and you don’t feel ‘in the mood’ to help anyone at this point. it’s been a long morning and it’s only 8:38—so you say, “i don’t know. go figure it out yourself.” now your co-worker feels attacked, and can’t seem to understand why you’re so angry so now she’s angry. she tries to figure out something that’s so easy for you that it would have taken 2 minutes to explain, but she’s new to the team and doesn’t understand everything yet. now she’s frustrated and angry because it’s already lunch time and she hasn’t accomplished anything.

there’s a client visit at your location that day and on her way out of the building she passes a representative from the client and let’s the door close on their face. so now the client is angry and can’t believe they’ve been treated so disrespectfully. the client goes into the meeting with an angry disposition and finds fault in just about everything your sales team is selling them. after the terrible 3 hour meeting absolutely no progress has been made to re-upping the contract and, in fact, has actually hurt your chances of getting that client to sign on for another 3 years.

three days later your company gets the notification that you won’t be providing your services for the client, and that it’s your main competitor instead. and all of it because of one bad toner cartridge.

outrageous? of course it is. unlikely to happen? that assumption is probably true… but it’s possible! it could happen. this story illustrates how important your employees are to your organization and that keeping your employees happy is extremely important.

make sure that everything works, all the time. ceiling lights, bathroom soap dispensers, door locks (and stops!), vending machines, power outlets—everything. why? because a bad toner cartridge might cost you more than you think.