Class action claims Office Max only filled ink cartridges halfway; Plaintiffs seek $10 million

Andrea Dearden Jul. 12, 2012, 7:00am


A Belleville man has joined several others in suing an office supply company for allegedly misleading customers about its ink cartridge refilling policy.

Richard Schaefer, individually and on behalf of a group, filed a class action lawsuit June 26 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against OfficeMax Incorporated and OfficeMax North America Inc.

Attorneys Richard J. Burke of St. Louis, Paul M. Weiss and Jeffrey A. Leon of Highland Park and Kevin T. Hoerner of Belleville represent Schaefer and the others.

The class asks for a judgement of $10 million, plus punitive damages and court costs.

According to the complaint, OfficeMax advertised that it would refill printer ink cartridges for $10 each. Schaefer says he went to the Belleville Crossing OfficeMax in Belleville in September 2011 and paid that price to have his HP 901 cartridge refilled. Schaefer says he returned to the same OfficeMax a month later because the same ink cartridge was already empty.

When he questioned why his cartridge ran out of ink so quickly, Schaefer alleges a customer service representative told him that OfficeMax instructs its employees to only refill cartridges halfway. Schaefer claims he was also told that if he wanted a full ink cartridge he could purchase a new one, which he says he did.

Later that month Schaefer says he went to a different OfficeMax in Fairview Heights and asked for another HP 901 printer cartridge to be refilled. Like the previous cartridge, Schaefer claims it too was empty in less than 30 days and only after printing no more than 50 pages. This, he says, led him to believe his cartridge was only filled halfway.

Schaefer claims OfficeMax did not clarify or advertise it only refilled cartridges halfway. If that is the company policy, he contends he should only be charged half the price.

The proposed class alleges OfficeMax's procedure of only refilling cartridges halfway was deceptive and misleading. It accuses the company of violating Illinois' Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and claims the practice garnered the company unjust enrichment.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-334

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