Have They Got Any Idea How Busy I Am?

18 Jan

Do you have a mental list of companies that really piss you off?  I do and it is populated by telephone companies, internet service providers (why they have the word ‘service’ in their name baffles me), insurance companies and now Epson with their inkjet refill scam.  To their credit, Epson’s responses were prompt but I guess that is not too hard to do when they regurgitate scripted emails generated by their propaganda department.  In my internet research on the topic I discovered that am I not alone in my annoyance with this unfair practice and there have even been successful class actions taken in the US against the printer manufacturers.  The whole topic is very ugly.  Anyway, for your edification, education and entertainment, here is my conversation thread with Epson…
1. My first contact:

Epson model: Epson Stylus SX130

My message to Epson:
I have a full black cartridge in this printer but the cyan and magenta are empty. I cannot get it to print. Have downloaded all the latest software for it but it always says it is either offline or error. It does scan.
Does the empty coloured ink cartridge stop the printer from working at all? If that is the case it is not at all environmentally or consumer friendly and would be a reason for me to never buy an Epson product again.
2. Two business days later, Epson’s reply:
Thank you for contacting Epson’s UK Customer Inter@ction Centre.
The Epson range of inkjet printers is designed to produce both high quality black and colour output. This is achieved by a combination of the print head unit and the ink cartridge used within it. The printer will operate until one of the cartridges runs out, at which point the printer will effectively go “offline” until this cartridge is replaced.
The reason behind this is to protect the printer from unnecessary damage that would be caused if the printer attempted to draw ink into the printer head when the ink has run out. If a print request, cleaning cycle or start up cycle (from switch on) is requested and the printer is out of ink, the printer is designed to prevent it to ensure air is not sucked into the print head (instead of the ink that prior to the cartridge running out was available) therefore potentially damaging the printer.
(Not happy to just fend off my inquiry, they then insult me further by trying sell me more bloody ink cartridges!)
You can purchase new products and consumables directly from Epson.
Buy now with FREE delivery on everything.
If you are interested in purchasing any Epson products please confirm the following details and I will call you to take payment and arrange delivery:
3. My next message was sent not expecting a response.  Also, upon actually checking  my calendar, I found the printer had been unused for eight months.  Oops, how time flies when you are having fun!
Your repetition of the corporate propaganda attempting to rationalise Epson’s abuse of the faith of its customers does nothing to help me.
I spent the full retail price on a genuine Epson black cartridge that has printed 11 pages and now I can’t use it without spending another €30+ to replace the cyan and magenta that have mysteriously depleted during three months of storage.  I use the SX130 while touring mainly for scanning documents and for printing the occasional boarding pass for services that still require it with e-ticket purchases.  B&W draft printing is all I need.  A simple override at the customer’s risk would solve this problem (e.g. ‘If you continue to print with an empty cartridge you may damage your printer and void the warranty.  Click OK to proceed.’).
I feel betrayed and cheated by Epson.  I have searched the internet on this topic and I seem to be in a lot of company.
I will never purchase an Epson printer again.  I will also ensure that every person I know is informed of the basically dishonest practice of locking the use of B&W printing to the purchase of expensive colour refills. I hope you are personally in the position one day where the waste of a few Euros/Pounds is important.  Right now you should be ashamed.  I now have little option but to send my SX130, in otherwise perfect working order, to a landfill.  Epson is an environmental disgrace.
4. Epson’s final boilerplate response:
Thank you for contacting Epson’s UK Customer Inter@ction Centre.
Epson appreciates this opportunity to comment on the issues you have raised.
As a responsible manufacturer, whilst we strive to produce high quality and economical products, we are aware that there are times when some customers may experience an issue with our products or service. Therefore, we would like to thank you for your feedback and whilst we are disappointed to learn about the problems you have experienced we will ensure your comments are used positively in order to enhance our service in the future.
If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact the Customer Inter@ction Centre and we will endeavour to resolve any further queries you may have.
So there you have it.  You have been warned.  When you buy that next new printer, or get one bundled with the purchase of a new computer, check carefully first.  Do you actually own the printer and choose how to use it or do you really only have a licence to use it on condition that you buy expensive proprietary ink refills from the manufacturer?  More people need to object to this business model if only for the reason that it is dishonest.  That’s not to mention the waste that this system promotes.
It looks like I may have found a new hobby once we return home.  I can start writing ‘letters to the editor’ under a nom-de-plume like ‘Disgruntled of Auckland’ complaining about moral decay in modern society and how young people don’t offer their seats to older travellers on the buses.
I wrote the proceeding paragraphs early on in this two-week period when I had not taken a photograph for a week and the prospects looked bleak.  Wow, did things change a week later!

3 Responses to “Have They Got Any Idea How Busy I Am?”

  1. Craig January 20, 2014 at 20:27 #

    Hi Brian. Unfortunately Epson are not the only manufacturers with this policy. My brother printer has exactly the same problem at the moment. Somehow magenta and cyan were OK right up until I replaced the black.

    Danny Bhoy devoted a section of his stand up act to printers and the cost of cartridges, last year. Something about asking why the cartridges cost more than his printer and if new tyres for cars cost proportionally as much there would be rioting in the streets…

    • bikernz January 20, 2014 at 20:47 #

      Hi Craig. Thanks for the moral support. I know all these mongrels are doing the same thing but that doesn’t add up to a justification in my view. Epson just happened to be the one that pissed me off this week! Consumers need to send back a clear message that these practices are not acceptable.

      BTW, I expected you to comment on the Team America reference and the line I really wanted to use as the title but relented because this is a family show! 😉

  2. imagingsystemsinc January 20, 2014 at 17:44 #

    Sorry you had such a bad experience with Epson, but thanks for the post! I’m sure many others will find it useful!

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