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 user 2006-03-28 at 11:28:00 am Views: 35
  • #15224

    In refill game, who will win ?
    Ink cartridge battles could leave buyers in bind, firms in court
    2006Back when America’s major highways were two-lane blacktops instead
    of massive interstates, many a long drive was made shorter reading
    Gillette Burma Shave ads pitching shaving soap and blades.

    I said, those were simpler times and dating standards were a tad
    different, as were open-road automobile speeds (much faster) and
    country billboards (legal then).It was also a time when printers were
    guys with shops that set type in molten lead and turned out documents
    with presses the size of today’s sub-compact cars.
    Now, of course,
    printers tend to be little beige boxes the size of toaster ovens that
    sit next to our home computers. They guzzle the manufacturer’s ink
    cartridges that cost more than cans of caviar and seem to last about as
    Maybe the answer to inkjet-style caviar dreams is cheap ink
    refills from third parties. (Look Ma, it only took the old guy 175
    words to get to the point!)
    Tribune technology writer Eric Benderoff
    reported on Friday how big businesses like Walgreens and OfficeMax and
    entrepreneurs like the booming Cartridge World chain now pitch schemes
    for refilling cartridges from Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Epson, et al.
    found particularly appealing the image of dropping a cartridge off at
    the drugstore photo counter and coming back in 10 minutes to pick up
    the refill.
    A lot of us recall the sense of frustration, if not
    anger, when we realized that today’s printermakers are exactly like the
    razormakers of the Burma Shave era: Sell the razors cheap and then make
    a killing selling the razor blades (or ink cartridges).
    It costs manufacturers under $5 to make, ship and advertise cartridges that then sell for $30 and more, often a lot more.
    wait. Cheap printers tend to wear out pretty quickly, usually going to
    HP Heaven in the middle of a job just after you’ve inserted a fresh
    cartridge. Because inkjet printers are so cheap, few folks buy service
    agreements. Even if a warranty exists, one rarely has the time to ship
    and wait for a repair when a printer breaks in the middle of a project.
    you trudge down to the Beige Boxes “R” Us store to buy a replacement
    that will use the perfectly good cartridge(s) in the broken machine and
    those spare cartridges you stockpiled for emergencies.
    Do I need to
    tell you that printers from HP, in particular, get changed so often
    that old cartridges are useless because they don’t fit in new machines?
    models require new cartridges. The number 56, 57 and 58 cartridges for
    the old HP are useless in the latest version, which needs numbers 91
    and 92, even though the machines look identical and work the same as
    far as anybody can see.
    It’s a strategy so clearly aimed at the old
    Gillette business model that it gives a hollow ring to protestations by
    the companies that new technologies improve results by ever-better
    designs in the computerized print heads soldered onto the cartridges.
    they say, ink is specially formulated to give maximum performance in
    the company’s own machines and is designed specifically for the
    chemicals and characteristics of the company’s brands of paper.
    I am
    sure this is true.But it doesn’t forgive the plight of the customer
    with a slightly outdated machine, and it certainly doesn’t explain away
    the huge profit margins.On the other hand, as any printer user can
    attest, nothing anymore seems simply black and white.
    cartridges don’t work as well as new ones because fill-ups can’t last
    as long as fresh loads. And they really don’t always work as well as
    new cartridges because of ink chemistry issues, including clogging.
    Furthermore the printer-head circuitry on a cartridge’s business end is
    fragile and prone to wear and tear, and damage during refilling.
    Already, printermakers are suing refillers over using ink that violates patents for their unique chemical formulas.
    challenges like this work, the refillers may be forced to use
    inferior-quality inks with resulting erosion of customer support.
    Look for more court fights, talking heads arguing the pros and cons, and a blitz of ink-consuming advertising.

    Cartridges run dry?
    Walgreens sez “stop by”
    What does this spell?
    Could it be The End for HP?