I’m not going to apologize to all my loyal readers for failing to post for so long since I probably don’t have many loyal readers, maybe a few stumblers. I have been way too busy to think about writing humorous or not so humorous comments about the constantly changing technology landscape. C’est la vie.
But today I feel I need to take some time and speak out.
Like millions of other people, I have an inkjet printer that costs me more in ink than it does to buy a new printer every year. I equate this with the exorbitant cost of razor blades. It is the same business strategy, however I will leave that rant for another day.
The current problem I’m having is that after a couple years, my Epson RX620 all-in-one printer no longer prints. More specifically, there are lines and blank spaces and the colors are all wrong. Apparently the print head is no good because changing ink cartridges doesn’t fix the problem.
Nothing else is wrong with this printer. The paper feeds perfectly, the scanner works perfectly (I love the scanner by the way). It is just the print head. So I went online to see if I could replace the print head. I heard from someone that the print head on an Epson printer is particularly unforgiving. If you let one of the 6 ink cartridges run out, you can ruin the print head. Consequently I figured that it is something that they have at least designed to be user-replaceable.
Not so, or at least not economically. I was told by an Epson authorized parts house that the print head is only sold as part of the entire print carriage assembly and costs over $200. Keep in mind that the whole printer sells new for about $250 and a newer improved model goes for about $200. Although the print head is a high precision part, I would be surprised if it costs more than $20-$30 to manufacture in high volume – probably less. After all, HP builds a print head into their ink cartridges.
Someone obviously wants me to throw my printer in the trash rather than fix it.
Although I have had good luck with HP inkjet printers, the reason I bought this Epson model was the paper handling. It feeds in from the rear, makes a less than 90% turn and comes out the front. HP printers all feed paper from the front, make a tight 180 degree turn and return back out the front. The Epson design is better because it doesn’t seem to mess up with pre-scored business card stock and it is the only printer I’ve found that will print the 36” long photo book covers that come with the Epson storybook kits.
So here I am stuck with about $50 worth of new ink cartridges and a printer that is destined to be added to the monumental pile of dead ink-jet printers out there. I wonder how large just the ink-jet printer pile would be if you put all the dead printers in one place? What a testimony to waste!
It is very sad that we have turned into a culture that throws away so much technology that could be repaired. This is truly an environmental disaster. So much engineering goes into making these products inexpensive to manufacture. What if the same creativity was applied to making them repairable by the consumer? Granted that it is cost prohibitive to pay someone (at least in the US) to fix most appliances around the house, but why not make them so you can fix them yourself?
Some marketing analyst probably figures that would impact the sale of new printers. Believe it or not, I have actually considered buying a new Epson printer just because I already have all those ink cartridges! But come to find out, the ones for my old printer no longer work in the new models. Not only have they engineered the printer to become landfill because it is effectively un-repairable, they have engineered the ink cartridges the same way.
So the reason I take the time to write this diatribe is in the faint hope that we will evolve into more conscientious consumers with a little knowledge at our disposal and secondly that companies such as Epson will wake up and realize that people care about things like this.
In closing, here is what Epson posts on their corporate website about their environmental awareness. Judge for yourself if this is just gratuitous PR or they are really committed to the program.