Monday, May 25, 2009

Printing Rip-Off

We have a modest printer in the Hughes household, which sits in a bedroom, complete with a PC which was rescued from a rich Floridian-based Brit some 7 years back. I shall digress for a moment. The PC was about 15 months old, and out of warranty. His business depended on it, and after much drawing of sharp breath through clenched teeth, I told him that it was about as limp as a parson's handshake. We went to Circuit City (sadly gone under, but thankfully now under new ownership), and bought a new PC. After several hours, I got the new PC to work just like the old one, including downloading his saved files etc. I'd had the forsight to suggest to him to invest in a daily back-up.
As he had no use for the old PC, he suggested that I take it away.
As it happens, Rik was around a short time later, and duly reloaded the OS and everything else I wanted. When I moved back to Blighty. I brought the beast with me (UPS told me it was only cost $67 to ship it - this turned out to be only the tax!), and it now sits here complete with my wife's old printer. I suspect that after so many years' service, it might be time to start saving the pennies for a new one for when it packs up again.
Now, after that digression, where is this leading to I here you say. Well, I discovered that the printer uses print cartridges faster than an MP gets through public-funded expenses. I also use this printer for this laptop, but have to either use a memory stick, or email a file to myself. We went out to buy new ink cartridges on Saturday, and we were appalled to discover that these were almost £50 (about $80 US) for the black and white and the color versions. A delightful young lady sales assistant pointed out a brand new Kodak printer was less than £20 more, including cartidges. This printer's ink cartidges cost about £20 per pair. Kerchung. I was sold. Of course, by the time I'd paid for the attachment cable (the old one would have done, of course), a 3 year warranty and a partridge in a pear tree, I'd parted with over £100. I was assured by the delightful young sales lady that ceteris paribus, I was 'quids in'. I wish I'd been two weeks younger....
It took several hours to install the darned thing, as being a typical male, I decided to look at the destruction manual after three attempts.
However, we now have a new 3-in-1 printer - much the same as the old one, but this one doesn't swallow all the paper at an angle when it is printing, not is the black print a weird shade of pink. My wife called it lilac or puce. (That's a subject for another day perhaps. Men have a few basic colors in addition to the major rainbow ones - red, blue, green, yellow, but women can have at least 1,000 variations on beige, for example.)
What I want to know is how Lexmark, Canon, Espon, HP and the other printer manufacturers can charge so much for ink cartridges when Kodak can do it for less than half? One manufacturer even gives a printer away free if you buy two of each cartridges.
I recall about two decades back, I used to sell large Hitachi printers to IBM Mainframe customers. These printers produced bank statements and their ilk in their millions. The cost of the beasts was usually under $100,000, but the running costs in cartridges was many times this cost over a year.
Perhaps I'm in the wrong business. I've even tried these offers whereby one injects ink into a dead cartridge, and apart from getting cartridge ink into places that I'd rather not mention (which are guaranteed to take until new skin grows before looking clean - alternatively use a Brillo Pad, which has the same desired effect), their efficacy was dubious.
I read once about the 'Paperless Office'. Tell that to the printer manufacturers!
Here endeth today's lesson.