Built-in obsolescence

Two PrintersFollowing the sudden failure and consequent death* of my Epson Printer yesterday, I am now the owner of a fourth ‘new’ printer since my self-employment began in 2005. There was a fifth, which I carried forward into self-employment, but that was retired fairly early on due to its age. It was put out to grass with Sharon until she passed it on to Betony, who (as a teenager) found it useful the odd time she needed to print a page and my shiny new laser printer wasn’t available.

So the average age of a printer is what? Two years? Really – just two years, IS THAT ALL?

The HP Laser printer was a huge disappointment. I can’t remember exactly how it died, or why, but it hadn’t fulfilled my expectations anyway – being unreliable and of patchy quality. It was binned within two years, I do remember that.  We then had an HP all-in-one inkjet which, to be fair, produced a better output than the laser jobbie. That one must have lasted over two years – which was still a disappointment, because the only reason IT DIED was that some chip somewhere inside it said that it should die. We simply couldn’t make it work well once it had started playing up.

So then, thinking that HP were rubbish, we moved to Epson and bought an Epson Stylus Photo PX720WD. This came with all singing and dancing ‘stuff’ we didn’t really need but it was a 6-ink printer with a bloody good write-up. Its print, scan and copy quality were second to now. Also, as we had learned to do with the HP Inkjet, we bought a non-proprietary ‘ink-system’ to negate the exorbitant cost of proprietary inks. This worked well. Every now and again, we had to tell the printer that we had bought new ink (there’s a chip in the  proprietary ink cartridge that tells it when to shout ’empty’, even if it isn’t) and everything was hunky dory.

Yesterday then, was a surprise when it said that its ink pads were at the end of their life and we should take it to Epson for replacement. Research told me that I wasn’t the only person this had happened to. E.g.

My Epson PX800FW all-in-one has started displaying a strange message about the ink pads (not carts note) coming to the end of their service life and to contact Epson support. A quick look on the Epson site basically states that you can get them repaired but they are prohibitively expensive usually, but not to worry because they only tend to go after years of use and/or very heavy use and so typically the printer will be replaced for other reasons before it comes an issue. [from: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=184732]

Most forums recommended a download that would cure the problem, some sites offer help at a cost but none seemed to help me with the fact that I wanted to print NOW. I did try the download, but the printer simply refused to talk to either the Mac or the PC – it simply said ‘take me to me maker’.

So we’ve bought another printer today. We tried the Espon site and looked at all the spec, then checked out the various retailers (Argos, PC World, Curry’s, Tesco etc.) hoping we could pick one up quickly but despite them showing on their sites – once we got to the ‘buy’ area it said ‘out of stock’ – tough titty basically! How these sites survive, I’ve no idea. I understand that the shops might not hold stock, but surely they can move pieces from the Central Distribution Depot to the shop within 48 hours.

Amazon did the job in less than 18. Around 4.00pm yesterday we paid £7 for delivery before 1:00pm the next day (today). it was with us by 8.40am! Brilliant.

We’ve gone for a cheap unit this time. 4 inks (system ordered and on its way), gravity feed etc. but if it’s not going to last two years due to built-in obsolescence, we might as well pay £60 than £200.

* Death might be too harsh a word – I intend to try and get it repaired, after all i only need to override the chip that Epson put in. I must remember that they SOLD it to me, they didn’t rent it to me, so i have no obligation to go to them for repair.

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