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 user 2008-08-15 at 2:33:13 pm Views: 157
  • #20173
    Printer Ink: How Do You Define ‘Empty’?
    Bass finds 20 percent of the ink he paid for left in supposedly empty
    cartridges, but Brother has a logical (if not legal) explanation.

    out of ink. Feed me.” That was what my Brother 640CW multifunction
    printer demanded recently. I checked and there was still enough fluid
    in its cartridge for goodness knows how many more pages.

    examined all three allegedly empty cartridges–cyan, yellow, and
    magenta. From the top to bottom, they measured 1 1/8 inches. There was
    still roughly 1/4 inch of fluid at the bottom of each one. That’s about
    a fifth of the cartridge’s capacity, so my loss in ink was roughly
    $2.25 per cartridge. That’s not exactly big bucks, but enough to make
    me feel like I was being scammed. (Oh, right, what printing
    manufacturer would do that, eh?)

    I was fuming.
    Brother Says: Oh, That’s Normal

    used my pull and fired a note off to Brother’s PR person. My question
    was simple: Is there a mechanical reason to leave fluid in the

    Brother’s rep had a logical answer, of course. Here
    it is, verbatim–make sure to slip on a pair of hip boots so you don’t
    get splattered with anything.

    “First, we would like to assure
    you that Brother stands behind our product and the information
    disclosure that we provide to the consumer. It is always our policy to
    provide such information to consumers to help them understand both the
    product and the conditions under which the product operates.

    address your specific question regarding ink volume, the rated yield
    for each cartridge follows the industry standard of that period which
    was based on 5% page coverage. So regardless of what small ink volume
    you may see remaining in an ink cartridge when it needs to be replaced,
    we guarantee that the ink volume that was provided and ‘used’ meets
    this industry standard calculation. Any additional ink volume left in a
    cartridge at that time was not put into the rated yield calculation
    that is guaranteed by Brother.

    “Importantly, there is a
    technical and performance reason for why the small amount of ink is
    remaining in a cartridge that is identified as ‘empty.’ As mentioned in
    the User Manual, ‘even though the machine informs you that an ink
    cartridge is empty, there will be a small amount of ink remaining in
    the ink cartridge. It is necessary to keep some ink in the ink
    cartridge to prevent air from drying out and damaging the print head
    assembly.’ By doing so, the machine is protected and consistent print
    quality is ensured to satisfy the consumer. In effect, remaining ink
    should not be viewed as waste, but as Brother’s affirmative action to
    provide ongoing high quality output and performance of the machine.”

    says I. Granted, the printer may need a small amount of ink to keep the
    printer heads from drying out, but the volume left in the cartridge
    isn’t what I’d call small. And I’m not interested in the industry
    standard of 5 percent coverage. What I know is that even with minimal
    printing, the Brother needs a new cartridge way too often–and I want
    every last drop of ink.
    Inkjet Cartridges? It’s a Hot Topic

    I’m not the only one incensed about the ink issue. Here’s what a few of my blog readers had to say:

    environmentally unfriendly. The more frequently we’re required to
    change our ink cartridges unnecessarily, the more landfill waste.
    Granted many people recycle their used cartridges, but just as many
    throw them in the garbage.”

    “Change the name in
    your rant from Brother to Canon and it’s exactly the same story. My
    brand new Canon was telling me the color cartridge was dangerously low
    for months before I actually got a printout with some missing color.”

    been in the supplies industry for 30+ years and 7 years ago developed
    my own Web site ( to sell aftermarket and
    compatible replacement alternatives…. Why? Because inkjet and toner
    cartridges were appallingly high priced. If that weren’t enough, the
    printer manufacturers are now using new technology to get you to buy
    more than you need…. Now some of the printer manufacturers are using
    chips on their cartridges to prevent aftermarket suppliers from being
    able to remanufacture their cartridges!”

    have to add my 2 cents to this, in addition to my raging fury with HP
    for installing mini-ink cartridges in new printers that will print a
    test page and then force you to buy full-sized ink cartridges right out
    of the gate. The HP Officejet Pro K850… forces me to change
    practically full cartridges because it says they have ‘expired.’ This
    machine takes 4 ‘high-yield’ tanks of ink at about $80 to replace.”
    –Mary E.

    more of the same, read “Inkjet Printer Ink: Reader Rants and Hacks” and
    browse the reader comments on “Study: Over Half of Inkjet Printer Ink
    is Thrown Away.”
    Save Yourself Some Cash

    Want to thumb your
    nose at the big printer companies? Before you run out and buy
    third-party cartridges, read “Cheap Ink: Will It Cost You?” But not to
    worry, there are reputable companies out there–read “Where and How to
    Buy Cheap Ink” for some recommendations on buying third-party ink and
    saving money on big-name supplies.

    After much due diligence, I
    found two spots with decent prices and good service. The first is
    Abacus where I bought a bunch of Brother cartridges. If you use the
    secret URL, you’ll get a better price. I also use LDProducts to buy my
    Epson cartridges. They gave me a code for a 5-percent discount code
    good through December 2008: INKRET77.

    We’ve got more
    money-saving tips in a video aptly titled “How to Save Money on
    Printing,” and I covered the topic last year in “Save Money on Inkjet
    Printer Ink.”