Raw Deal On Printer Ink

from the price-gouging dept

Having just had a story about the various printer companies spreading FUD about how so many ink cartridges out there are counterfeit and may damage your printer, I thought this next article was interesting. One of the "warnings" the printer companies kept saying was that these counterfeit cartridges often came only half full. That does sound like a ripoff, until you realize that the printer companies themselves are effectively doing the same thing by having their printers tell you they're empty when there's still quite a bit of ink left. In one test, they found that an ink cartridge was still 38% full when the printer said it was empty. That's 38% of a tiny cartridge that (as the article points out): "costs more than vintage champagne". They also point out that the Epson printers (such as the one I use) are the worst - because they won't let you print if the printer says it's empty - so most people are simply throwing away nearly half of the ink they bought for insanely high prices. In tests the magazine ran the least amount of remaining ink was 17%. Meanwhile, the Lexmark case (where they sued another company for figuring out a way to allow non-Lexmark cartridges to work in their printers) continues to move forward with the EFF filing a brief against Lexmark. The anger over these printer company tactics and the FUD they're spreading suggests that a more formal investigation is coming. I wouldn't be surprised if the FTC gets involved at some point to investigate these practices. Already, in the UK the Office of Fair Trading is looking into the issue.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Real Radix, Jul 4th, 2003 @ 2:50am

    Epson cartridges

    I bought a little gizmo which resets the chip on Epson cartridges. I always got at least another full run out of a cartridge.

     

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      Tom Zuiderveld, Apr 12th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

      Re: Epson cartridges

      Do you know where I can get a chip gizmo to fully utilze all ink in the cartridge for my Epson CX4200 printer?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2003 @ 5:02am

    You get a new print head, not just ink.

    With HP and most other brands, you get a new print head, not just ink, in the print cartridge. That's a big part of why the printer itself is so inexpensive. The most complex part of the printer is in the cartridge, not in the printer.
    I understand that Epson cartridges contain only ink.

     

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      Rod, Aug 3rd, 2003 @ 8:43am

      Re: You get a new print head, not just ink.

      yes however the reason why HP gives a new print head with each cartridge is because the quality is inferior. In this world you still get what you pay for

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2003 @ 4:47pm

    I support any company that support the paperless o

    What we need to get around all of the profiteering going on is a good tax...

    (that's a joke BTW)

    But I do think there is something very special about making SOHO and home printers unaffordable to use... and if I had my way, the only printers that would be excluded from any "Ink Cartridge Tax" would be those that printed duplex.

     

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    Jim, Nov 12th, 2003 @ 8:01am

    Lexmark X75 printer wont print

    I just bought a Lexmark printer, and, about 300 sheets later, it told me I was low on ink. So, I pulled it out as is my usual procedure, to refill it before it became empty. I was unable to print with the black cartridge at all. I was told by Lexmark......in India.... that yes, this was the case. No more than 250 to 300 sheets per cartridge. That's about $.08 to $.10 per sheet. I might as well buy a new printer, and an extra cartridge, for every two reams of paper. It would be cheaper.

     

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    Jim, Nov 12th, 2003 @ 8:05am

    Lexmark X75 printer wont print

    I just bought a Lexmark printer, and, about 300 sheets later, it told me I was low on ink. So, I pulled it out as is my usual procedure, to refill it before it became empty. I was unable to print with the black cartridge at all. I was told by Lexmark......in India.... that yes, this was the case. No more than 250 to 300 sheets per cartridge. That's about $.08 to $.10 per sheet. I might as well buy a new printer, and an extra cartridge, for every two reams of paper. It would be cheaper. No matter how I try, the printer will not print with the refilled cartridge. It seems, that they have discovered a way to recognize the old cartridge so it cannot be used again.

     

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      Gordon Johnson, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 5:01pm

      Re: Lexmark X75 printer wont print

      My more recent Lexmark printer refused to recognise that the non-brand replacement had ink in it, but my IT expert in the family confirmed that despite "SAYING" their was no black ink, ,the printer was actually using the new ink cartridge.
      So I am merrily using my cheap refilled black cartridges, even as the Lexmark says it is empty!
      Gordon.

       

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    haiki, Apr 28th, 2006 @ 8:50am

    printer ink conspiracy

    Think about a HP ink cartridge that has a warranty. Bad ink cartridge, color bad, light ink which appears watery, what-ever, they give you another one. That's the way a warranty works. You buy a recycled ink cartridge, with no HP warranty. It may work momentarily, but then you get these same messages, remove cartridge. Why should my printer shut down after purchasing a recycled ink cartridge? But then if you buy an HP ink cartridge, your printer is up and running again. Or until that time HP thinks you have printed long enough, even if you have plenty of ink. HP forces you, according to HP predetermined usage, in order for your printer to work, to buy their ink cartridges, or HP will shut your printer down.

    Don't focus on the ink cartridge, focus on the fact HP, and other printer manufacturers, stop your printer from working, because of some silly game they are playing of cheating customers before the ink runs out, or wrong ink standards, or what-ever. I say, go ahead send these stupid messages, but don't stop my printer from working. This is anti-competitive, and in violation of anti-trust laws.

    To be perfectly clear

    Hewlett Packard recycles their ink cartridges by promoting that HP cartridges be returned for recycling, using a self addressed, stamped envelope. Allowing HP, through their “refurbishing and reselling” effort to conserve resources, using the various recycling facilities of manufacturers around the world contracted by HP. Thus, the mere fact that there also are other recyclers available to refurbish, and recycle ink cartridges, but except for lower cost, and the free choice of the consumer, HP has restricted the consumer the full use, and the operation of HP printers.

    Smith and Roberson’s Business Law, ninth edition. West Publishing. Chapter 43; ANTITRUST.
    “Characterizing a type of restraint as per se illegal therefore has a significant effect on the prosecution of an antitrust suit. In such a case, the plaintiff need only show that the type of restraint occurred, she does not need to prove that the restraint limited competition.....Tying arrangements. A tying arrangement occurs when the seller of a product, service, or intangible (the "tying" product) conditions its sale on the buyers purchasing a second product, service, or intangible (the "tied" product) from the seller....Because tying arrangements limit buyers' freedom of choice and may exclude competitors, the law closely scrutinizes such agreements.”

    Hewlett Packard has, unbeknownst to customers who purchased HP printers (tying product), tied as a condition, the purchase of new HP ink cartridges (tied product), or HP recycled ink cartridges, through the use illegal anti-competitive consumer practices.

    After all, what are we talking about, it's a ball point pen refill morphed into a printer ink cartridge. It’s a recycled auto part! Again, I say Hewlett Packard, and the rest of the conspirators, play your silly games by cheating consumers on ink cost, and supplies. I say go ahead! But don’t stop me from the use of my printer.

     

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    Giles Slade, May 7th, 2006 @ 5:03am

    Hp Cartridges

    I was just interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show at WNYC in New York City about this issue. Leonard wanted to know if I was aware of HP's manipulative tactics to death date its own cartridges. I wasn't aware of it and now I'm fascinated. I understand that a Georgia born woman launched a class action against HP because of the chip technology in their cartridges that sets an expiry limit for the printer cartridge you put into your HP printer and prevents you from using it after about a year. --I need to know much more about this. --So please any and everyone knowledgable respond-- I've just written a book about these manufacturing issues called Made To Break. This example looks like a classic that I unfortunately missed. Give me info big time. Thanks!
    Giles Slade

     

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    Richard N. Furtaw, May 9th, 2006 @ 8:59am

    Lexmark Printers

    Are all Lexmark printers inefficient in terms of ink usage. I have a P6250 and it just guzzles up the ink.
    I've tried efficient settings but it doesn't do any good. I use to have an HP which gave me much better ink usage. What's the deal? I also have the problem of having the "ink cartridge low" come on when the cartridge is still half full. I just ignore the messages.

     

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    Richard N. Furtaw, May 9th, 2006 @ 9:00am

    Lexmark Printers

    Are all Lexmark printers inefficient in terms of ink usage. I have a P6250 and it just guzzles up the ink.
    I've tried efficient settings but it doesn't do any good. I use to have an HP which gave me much better ink usage. What's the deal? I also have the problem of having the "ink cartridge low" come on when the cartridge is still half full. I just ignore the messages.

     

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    Ci Ci, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:24pm

    Lexmark Printer Ink Cartridges

    I get a MAXIMUM of 40 pages using Lexmark "high yield" print cartridges. I don't print photos - just straight text, size 12 font, black ink. While Lexmark customer service response is excellent, I keep getting told to perform all kinds of tests because "it might be caused by a printer problem.' Not likely - this is the 2nd (and last) Lexmark printer I've had, and with both printers, the ink levels say o.k. but there is no ink left in the cartridge (made evident when I try to "clean" the cartridge - no ink on the tissue. I figure it costs me about $0.65/page to print.)

    The printers cost $100 - the ink can cost $1,000's ..... over a period of months. There ought to be a law, or at least, an investigation. What a rip-off.

     

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    Gordon Johnson, Jan 1st, 2007 @ 8:33am

    Lexmark printers

    I have a new, first-time, Lexmark P6250 and the black ink soon was used up. At the rate of usage, I didn't fancy forking out for branded replacement cartridges, so got some via another supplier.
    These work o.k. but the printer insists that the cartridge is empty! My expert in the family (IT lecturer) tells me that the printer recognises the cartridge but fails to note the ink quantity within.
    As long as it works, I say!

     

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    Jean, Mar 17th, 2007 @ 7:26am

    Epson c84 that won't print

    I procrastinated a couple of weeks in getting new ink cartridges so the print heads must have dried up. Then used a cleaning solution I was assured would solve the problem. With all the head cleaning, test prints, etc. the printer has gone through so many cycles that it thinks it is out of ink even though it hasn't put a drop on the paper and I can hear it sloshing around in the cartridges. Short of spending another $40-50 to buy new cartridges, is there anything I can do to get the printer to realize it does still have ink?
    Grateful for any help.

     

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      Jake, Mar 20th, 2007 @ 9:07am

      Re: Epson c84 that won't print

      I've been using C84's for years to run t-shirt transfers, and I can tell you right now that the real problem you were having had nothing to do with your print heads.

      There's a sponge inside your printer, along the right-hand side. It's the area where the print head goes when you do a head cleaning. It's the area where the printer basically spews ink out liberally (in addition to a little dip/rub action) in order to clean the heads. This sponge has about a 6 month "life-span" as far as I can tell -- and shorter if you have a house with dogs that shed.

      (a) the sponge gets filled with ink on its own eventually, through repeated use and head cleanings.

      (b) The sponge is a magnet for any dirt, dust, or hair you might have floating around your home or office.

      Once this sponge gets dirty enough, doing a head cleaning will actually make your print quality *worse* and the printer effectively becomes useless for anything other than casual home use (and can even become entirely useless with enough use or time). Most people I've known in the business of small-scale t-shirt transfer production just buy a new $70 Epson every 6 months. It's part of the assumed operational costs.

      As far as I can tell, there's no way to open up the printer to get at the inner-most workings, but I still managed to find a better solution:

      (1) Get yourself a paper towel (dry).
      (2) Make a Word document or image that has a thin column of "content" down the right side of the page.
      (3) Set your printer to the highest print quality.
      (4) Send the test page to the printer, open the top, and get ready with your paper towel.

      .. and now the fun part!

      (5) while the print head is busy on the left side of the printer, printing away a single column of nothing-ness, you have to get in and towel off that sponge as much as possible.

      I usually find that I have a good 30 seconds at the highest print quality. Make sure you use high, otherwise the print head will make frequent returns to the right side of the printer and screw up your attempts to towel off the sponge. Canned Air might be a nice addition to the party as well. Air, sponge, air, sponge. Get as much ink, dirt, and hair out of that sponge as possible. I'm guessing that since you've done so many cleanings and stuff that youmight need two or three paper towels to finish the job.

      Run a head cleaning and enjoy the full potential and glory of your C84 (they're actually very capable of very high print quality, even being so cheap, so long as you're willing to do the stupid sponge trick every few weeks).

      Finally: Cover your printer whenever you're not using it (overnight, weekends, whichever). I use a pillow case. :)

      Now, as for your current ink cartridges: Sorry. Unless you can pick up one of those gizmos mentioned above -- the kind that resets the chip on the cartridge (and I don't have one myself) -- there's nothing you can do except throw out a perfectly good ink cartridge and buy new ones. :(

      Welcome to Epson's world.

       

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    identicon
    Brian, Apr 9th, 2007 @ 7:13pm

    Canon printers exist too

    Their cartridges contain only ink and really run out of ink when they say it (well, at least you can see the cartridge fading inside and you go like wtf). Very expensive, unfortunately (supposedly it's buy-3-cartridges-and-get-a-printer)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2007 @ 6:37pm

    Where do you put the ink crtridge at in a printer?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2007 @ 10:23pm

    It depends on the printer. Check your manual

     

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    Christopher J Fell, Apr 28th, 2007 @ 9:30am

    Epson chip resetter

    You can get these from PC World, usually with the cartridge refill packs

     

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    identicon
    tony, Jul 19th, 2008 @ 5:00am

    Epson DX4000 / Tesco own brand cartridges

    You are absolutely right!! - I use Tesco DX4000 replacement cartridges at £4.25 ea. because I got fed u paying through the nose for Epson's own rip-off price cartridges
    The Tesco cartridge is fine, BUT the chip only allows 2/3rd of the ink to be used - proven by my syphoning 5ml of residue.I contacted the supplier - and was glibly told this is normal to protect the printer, to which replied I was not satisfied with this, and thought the quantity excessive,saying 2ml would be more than enough. It seems to me "they" are all at it - cheating the buyer public !!

     

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    Eric Nalder, Aug 17th, 2008 @ 4:47pm

    HP notification that you are out of ink, but you are not

    I'm curious about this phenomena. The HP printer states that it is out of ink. It will not operate unless you install a fresh cartridge. Yet the black ink cartridge in the machine is not out of ink. I am a journalist and interested from that angle as well. Mike or others, please contact me. Eric Nalder, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle office, 206-448-8011, home office, 360-394-9500

     

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    Mrs. O, Aug 28th, 2008 @ 4:25pm

    Printer manufacturers taking consumers to the cleaners

    My Epson CX7800 was a Christmas gift from my son. Although I truly like the quality of the product, buying ink cartridges to keep it going has become a real burden in the purse. I went and purchased the black ink cartridge because it was all I could afford but my printer still does not work. I guess it's going to set un-used for I can't afford to run it anymore. For now, I am out $20.00 plus tax because I have already installed the cartridge and can't return it to the store. I agree that someone has to do something about this dilemma.

     

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    randy, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 8:59pm

    printer cartidges

    i threw away lexmark printer that guzzled ink same as others had trouble with epsons totally hate hp's but have had outstanding success with canon's run a home office and put close to a ream of paper a week thru canon mp730 and black cartride every two weeks which is a pretty good yield really.but it finally bit the dust after three years of this heavy use.i also used refilled cartridges and refilled them myself for a while with no trouble at all.so when i went to replace it i started researching a good replacement.and this is key you have to do your homework i look for reviews and specs that give yield and ink consumption review details if they dont list this theres a reason they don't want to tell you 50 pages and the cartridge is dead.also compare the ink cartridge prices and check how many ml.per carttidge a little math will show you an HP ink with 12 ml.@ $27.95 is not as ecinomical as a canon ink wth 27 ml.@ $15.95 true the printer may cost $50 more to buy but in three weeks i could have spent that in ink tanks.

     

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    dolores, Dec 14th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    HP Deskjet 1341 Printer

    If HP brings up a warning that the printer is out of black ink, does this warning have anything to do with only the left side of the paper is printed. If not, could anyone assist me in getting this problem solved. Thank you

     

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