February 23, 2005

Printer Cartridge Scams: Normally when you hear the word 'scam' mentioned, you figure there's got to be a con artist somewhere in sight. You don't normally expect to hear this word used in association with a big corporation like Hewlett-Packard. But this is exactly the word being used on the web today by people who are pissed off about some of the business practices of HP. Besides the Yahoo article mentioning the lawsuit, more pages are showing up on this thread at Slashdot. Some of the articles as old as 2001. I guess that the practice of expiring inkjet cartridges isn't news after all. Well, in the sense of it being 'new', anyway. The lawsuit may just cause some changes to come about, but it may take a while. Some of those articles are good reading, like the one that talks about how different cartridges can be used in different printers with a little bit of hacking, to maximize your bang for the buck when buying ink.
As consumers, what we'd like is for someone to come out with an inkjet printer that welcomes refills. It could come with an interchangeable print cartridge and a cleaning kit that would help you keep it in optimum working condition. You could buy the refillable ink, and soak the cartridge overnight to help clear up any clogs in the ink delivery.
Sooner or later, your cartridge is going to clog though, so I understand at least part of what HP is trying to do in expiring their cartridges. But we are a nation, nay a world, of penny pinchers. The freedom to use something until its dying breath is something we hold dear. Imagine being told that your car is no longer usable after 150,000 miles. For many, that seems quite reasonable. But to the guy on the bridge trying to get to work late at 9:30AM Monday, as his odometer rolls over? It's a different story. Folks, this should be an engineering principle. Never design something that forces the consumer to take an action that would deny them the freedom to ignore your 'suggestion'. After all, when's the last time you changed your oil at the 3,000 mile mark?

1 comment:

Rich Gautier said...

Oh, so you finally fixed your RSS feed, dummy.