Inkjet Vendors — Yet Again — Look Scammy
from the empty's-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder dept
As we’ve highlighted in the past, a number of old, random Techdirt posts manage to still attract plenty of traffic — and comments — thanks to the wonder of search engines. A recent example was a post on Amazon Prime, which apparently led plenty of people to believe that we were to blame for charging $79 to their credit cards. But that post still has a ways to go to catch up to a 2003 post about inkjet printer manufacturers getting upset about people buying ink from third-party suppliers. One of the early comments in that post mentioned how some HP printer cartridges “expire” a certain time period after they’re manufactured, regardless of how much ink they have left, and the comments have since turned into a list of people looking for ways to circumvent the expiration. More than four years later, it still manages to attract several comments per month. Of course, this isn’t the only thing inkjet vendors have done to annoy their customers and keep ink prices inflated. They’ve misused the DMCA to try and shut down third-party ink vendors, claimed that refilling their cartridges is patent infringement, pressured retailers not to sell cheaper third-party cartridges, and otherwise used intimidation and harrassment to stifle competition. Meanwhile, other printer makers actually try to compete by focusing on making their ink cheaper.
Now comes news that’s likely to further irritate consumers: inkjets say their cartridges are empty well before they’re actually empty. It should be noted that the study was sponsored by Epson, which — of course — came out as the “best”. However, even its cartridges only used 80 percent or so of their total ink before saying they were empty. Some are arguing that the study, overall, is pretty meaningless because it doesn’t consider the actual cost per page of different printers and cartridges. That may be true, though it’s still hard not to see this as yet another dirty trick by inkjet vendors, intended to prop up the market and inflate sales.