Friday, July 10, 2009

The Inkjet Printer Ripoff

I know that this is off of my usual line of discussion, but I needed to blow off some steam about this one.

It is well known in the printer industry that low-end printers, especially inkjets, are essentially loss-leaders- the printer is sold at or below production cost, with the intention of making the profits by selling the supplies-- ink cartridges, print heads, etc.

While this is a legitimate strategy, buyers need to be aware of the efforts that the manufacturers make to commit the customer to ridiculously high future costs. One of the ways they do this is by forcing you to replace a color cartridge that empties (even if you don't need it) before allowing you to do ANY printing, even black. The printer, or other functions, simply shut down.

A few years ago, I bought a Brother multifunction printer, seemingly a bargain, to replace my ageing fax and printer. I printed in color rarely. However, the printer had self test cycles periodically, and every time that printer was turned on. When this happens, the printer would use a small amount of color inks. After a few months, the magenta ink ran out, shutting down to printer even to just black printing. I checked the forums and web site and found there was no way around this. You had to replace the magenta ink cartridge, costing $20. Then a month later, the yellow cartridge did the same. Mind you the black cartridge had plenty of ink in it.

I decided to cut my losses and dump the printer. I actually tried to GIVE the printer away, only 6 months old, to a neighbor, who decided that it wasn't worth the headache for him either. So I took a new, perfectly working printer, and put it out at the curb for collection. I have a friend who bought an Epson and has had the same problem.

I decided not to repeat this mistake again. I swore never to buy a Brother printer again. After doing some internet research and talking to salesman at Office Depot, I found a Lexmark printer that met my needs. It has the old fashion "HP style" setup with 2 print cartridges-- one color and one black. When the color one empties it gives you warnings but doesn't stop you from printing black. So far it works for me.

Out of curiosity I stopped by the local Office Depot again recently to see what on the market. This time I saw a fancy HP multifunction color printer at a "too good to be true" price-- 600NIS, including multiplexer (2 sided printing), built-in ethernet, fax, document feeder, etc. I came home and checked on the internet and read the reviews, which were pretty positive. The problem is that the reviewers aren't necessarily aware of this color ink requirement scam if they don't use the printer long enough. So I went onto ZAP, and Israeli internet comparison shopping site, which includes buyers reviews. Sure enough, this printer showed up, with several buyers complaining about their printer shutting down after only a few weeks use when one of the colors ran out. (This is especially frustrating after the purchase, because the manufacturers usually put in "starter" cartridges with low capacity).

I think that buyers should organize a boycott of these printers, and really let the manufacturers know that this arrangement is unacceptable, and deceptive to buyers.


INK HUB said...

Hi there
Yes I run a ink cartridge business online:
Ink Cartridges

Let me tell you it is the biggest rip off industry there is! We set up to help people to be able to print affordably. Please dont knock the Brother printers. If you use a compatible cartridge they still represent the BEST value for money in regards to cheap printing!

Bosie said...

I feel as though I've been hit in the thorax with a large wooden object. I have just come to the realization that i am buying cartrigdes every two weeks with money I don't have.

I have an Epson NX4000, a gift from a former employer. I love(d) it. Along with the printer came a case of cartridges, enough to fill two bookshelves, and though my first reaction to the enforced cartridge installation/shutdown nonsense ("open the pod bay doors Hal"...) was bemused outrage,a quick trip to my colour-coded bookshelf was hardly an imposition.

While my printer continued its Checkpoint Charlie blinking, I cursed and raged at the impenetrable vacuum pack. I couldn't find the scissors (scissors are useful indeed but they are as elusive as car keys and screwdrivers).

I gouged away at the plastic and eventually freed the cartridge, did the shake and bake thing, and was somewhat impressed with the easy exchange of old to new.

The Beast, having been fed its dose of Cyan, went through some sort of "colour processing" while I waited. Good job!

Three months ago, my cartridge shelf coughed up its last Magenta, and now I am my own.

Wow. I just don't have the money to continue feeding my bloodthirsty little beast.

I am a writer; the starving kind. My life is awash in paper (as it should be). Now I find myself quite literally trying to figure what I can live without, month to month, just so I can put words onto paper.

I am a retired Marketing Exec (hardware, software, peripherals...)

We designed a thing or to back in the old days to increase the bottom line but we would NEVER have stooped so low.

A boycott is the only solution.

I cannot work without a printer and I certainly can't put coherent words together if I'm forced to live on a diet of bologne, baked beans, and weiners because my Epson is an ink junkie.

I am terribly upset, it never once occured to me to check out the price of an ink cartridge, and it certaily never occurred to me that reputable organizations are price-gouging with impunity.

So that is my rant. The love affair is over... "no colours anymore I want them to turn black.."

Back to the Quill.

sen said...

Ya, Thats really frustrating. You can try Inkjet Printer for better service.

print head said...

You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.