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HP & Staples Collude On $8,000/Gallon Ink?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the that's-no-razor-blade dept.

Printer 442

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "HP and Staples are facing an anti-trust lawsuit over replacement printer cartridges. According to the lawsuit, HP paid Staples $100 million to refuse to stock competing ink cartridges. HP could make that back in short order when you consider that printer ink can cost $8,000 per gallon and certain printers deceive users to waste as much as 64% of their ink."

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This picture puts all in perspective (5, Informative)

Jack Malmostoso (899729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750440)

Prices of various liquids per mL:
http://eatliver.com/i.php?n=2648 [eatliver.com]
As Jeremy Clarkson noted in Top Gear: the fact that oil companies extract oil, refine it, distribute it all for a few cents a liter is actually amazing. Gasoline is extremely cheap!

Re:This picture puts all in perspective (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750526)

>for a few cents a liter
Maybe that's why it's taxed as much as it is... Oil companies continue without paying the true cost [wikipedia.org] .

Re:This picture puts all in perspective (3, Funny)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750660)

So when is the Open Source community going to invent a printer that runs off of store-bought food coloring mixed with water?

Re:This picture puts all in perspective (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750702)

A better list (old, thouigh, and no graph)

http://www.cockeyed.com/science/gallon/liquid.html [cockeyed.com]

Lists black ink as $2,701.52 per gallon, compared to human blood ($1,514.79/Gallon) and insulin ($9,411.76/Gallon).
=Smidge=

Re:This picture puts all in perspective (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750840)

Considering that a gallon of gold is about 1/20th the cost of scorpion venom, I'm surprised we don't start wearing little capsules of the stuff around our necks.

Mod parent up! (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750706)

This is specially true when comparing oil's energy content to any other alternative!
At least in Europe, we now have to work half as much as 30 years ago in order to buy one liter of oil.

But those damn tabloids keep on selling millions of copies just by telling gullible readers that "Oil has never been so expensive".
It might be a bit more expensive than a year ago, but it won't prevent me from thinking that we still see far too many lone guys driving SUVs downtown.

From http://www.manicore.com/anglais/documentation_a/slaves.html [manicore.com]

This is where we start to understand that our species has performed a fantastic "power breakthrough" when domesticating fossil fuels : with 1 euro (which is about 1 dollar, Wall Street specialist will excuse me to concentrate on magnitudes), I can buy 1 litre of petrol (or gas), that contains about 10 kWh of energy, which is about the equivalent of two "slaves" working for a full day. And oil would be expensive ?

Re:Mod parent up! (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750778)

From http://www.manicore.com/anglais/documentation_a/slaves.html [manicore.com]

This is where we start to understand that our species has performed a fantastic "power breakthrough" when domesticating fossil fuels : with 1 euro (which is about 1 dollar, Wall Street specialist will excuse me to concentrate on magnitudes), I can buy 1 litre of petrol (or gas), that contains about 10 kWh of energy, which is about the equivalent of two "slaves" working for a full day. And oil would be expensive ?

So you're saying if I got two of these "slaves" and work them all day, they'd move my SUV 15 miles through mountainous terrain?

Re:Mod parent up! (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750964)

Two slaves, working all day with rope, block and tackle, and windlass, could possibly move your SUV the 3 or 4 miles that the liter of petrol would move it.

Re:This picture puts all in perspective (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751078)

It doesn't make sense to xompare the bulk rate price of oil to cans of RedBull.

How much oil to you need to buy to have it physically delivered at a price approaching the price per a barrel (ignoring taxes even).

More than just ink... (4, Insightful)

dsginter (104154) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750452)

Just ask Canon about the failure of their Wifi printers - you could not buy them at *any* retail store (or even Dell, which carried the rest of Canon's lineup) because the printer did not enable the retailer to sell the $30 USB cables.

Re:More than just ink... (4, Interesting)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750474)

When I worked at best Buy I remember us having wireless canon printers for a short time. I know we always had the HP Wireless printers as well. But Best Buy always seems to pull them quickly cause the only things we could sell with it were paper and ink... no cable :( The 08975123908475239048% markup on USB cables was just that important... although I knew when I left Worst buy that I should have purchased a shit load of USB Cables... they were like 75 cents on my discount at the time. No idea how much they are now, I heard the discount went south int he last few years.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750568)

Don't the printers come with USB cables? Why would anyone buy them?

Re:More than just ink... (1)

DeeQ (1194763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750624)

I don't think I have bought a printer that has come with a cable. Most of the time the box doesn't say one isn't included. Granted the printers I buy are the cheapos for 25-30 bucks but ive gone threw 3 so far and none came with a USB cable for it. I'm not sure if this is the case for most printers but It makes sense. It gives the retailer a chance to mark something up without making the printer more expensive.

Re:More than just ink... (3, Insightful)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750772)

It makes sense if you think about it. If your printer is a replacement, you already have a USB cable so there's no sense in you having another. Having gone through a fair few printers (They just die from use) since USB became the standard connection, I'm kinda glad. There are only so many uses for USB A-B cables.

Yes the price of the cables themselves can be extortionate, but it's a one-off. USB connectors are very resilient by design, and if you get a decent cable from a proper parts retailer (I can get a 5m A-B for £1.49, around $3.00) it's not a problem given you're already spending 10 times that on the printer.

Re:More than just ink... (3, Informative)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750884)

It makes sense if you think about it. If your printer is a replacement, you already have a USB cable so there's no sense in you having another. Having gone through a fair few printers (They just die from use) since USB became the standard connection, I'm kinda glad. There are only so many uses for USB A-B cables.


Inkjets do indeed tend to break easily, especially cheap ones. (Some of HP's expensive ones have a rather strong proclivity to die early as well.)

Old Laser printers, on the other hand, tend to last forever. I've had the same HP Laserjet 5P since 1995, and even with heavy daily use, it's showing no signs of breaking or becoming obsolete. As an added bonus, the toner cartridges can last for years on end depending upon how much you print.

It was a rather expensive printer in its day, but it's undoubtedly paid for itself many times over.

Re:More than just ink... (3, Interesting)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751006)

Inkjets do indeed tend to break easily, especially cheap ones.
I had to put a Deskjet 520 (1993 vintage) in early retirement last year. I lubed some parts once because it was becoming noisy, and I had to clean the small sponge that collects spilled ink once too. It was still going strong, but alas, slowly ; so I bought a Brother laser to replace it. It's in storage now, after 14 years of good use, and by the look of it it might have gone another 14 years without any problem.

Re:More than just ink... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750738)

My HP printer (Wifi/USB/Ethernet) didn't come with any cables. I was surprised there was no USB cable, but I was buying it as a network printer, so I would never have used it anyway. As for ethernet, how long is a printer's ethernet cable? It's like asking how long is a piece of string: it's from one end (the printer) to the other (the network switch); best left to the person buying the printer.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750830)

printers rarely come with a usb cable. I have had more printers come with ethernet cables than I have had USB cables, and i have opened a good 200 at this point.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

shdwtek (898320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751000)

Most do not come with the cable. Sometimes the Multifunction Machines do. I recently delivered a Lexmark MFC that came with one.

A lot of people come into the store buying USB Cables because they find out their printer didn't come with one.

Re:More than just ink... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750494)

the printer did not enable the retailer to sell the $30 USB cables.
Who the hell pays $30 for a USB cable? I've got a drawer full of them that I've gotten free with various pieces of equipment over the years. They should be at most $5 and even that is high. I suppose these are the same morons who pay $60 for an HDMI cable when you can buy it on Amazon for $2.

Re:More than just ink... (4, Funny)

debianlinux (548082) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750552)

Little did you know that you were actually getting the equipment free with the purchase of the cable!

Re:More than just ink... (4, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750572)

Who the hell pays $30 for a USB cable? I've got a drawer full of them that I've gotten free with various pieces of equipment over the years. They should be at most $5 and even that is high. I suppose these are the same morons who pay $60 for an HDMI cable when you can buy it on Amazon for $2.

Who the hell buys ANY cable from a retailer like Best Buy or Circuit City? Want something worse then USB? Consider Cat5. I love seeing a 25 foot patch cord thats going for anywhere from $25-$40. $1/foot to $1.6/foot. WTF is that? I can buy a thousand feet of the shit for around $80 ($0.08/foot). Yeah, they should get some mark-up for them, but that much?

Wanna "make friends" at a place like Best Buy or Circuit City? Wait till you see Grandma about to buy one of those cables and is being pounced on by the salesguy -- then tell her about the twenty other options for getting that cable for next to nothing. It's worth it just to see the look on the sales persons face. Wonder if they get commissions for ripping people of^W^W^Wselling those cables?

Re:More than just ink... (3, Insightful)

neildiamond (610251) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750654)

And after that, grandma still buys from them!

Re:More than just ink... (4, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750676)

While I am no fan of the big box retailers in general, I do recognize the fact that they do have overhead costs. I worked at Compusa in the early 2k's just after the dot.bomb era (I was a victim), and while yes, cables and accessories are rediculously priced (the rounded IDE cables back then being sold for $29 actually cost around $4, which is what I paid while working there), the profit margin on laptops and PC's was ridiculously small, we are talking 1 to 3%. There has to be a balance for stores to remain viable, if they sold everyone at 2 to 5% profit, the store would be out of business in no time. This goes for any store, regardless of industry or size. So if you want cheap laptops and TV's, then yes, they have to markup something else, otherwise expect much higher prices on the primary items you purchase.

That being said, personally, yes I bought my TV from Best Buy, was a good deal, and on sale, no I did not buy anything else from them relating to my TV as I knew I could get those things elsewhere, thats just me trying to get the best deal for myself, but I cannot get pissed off at a entity trying to remain viable and in business.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

ElBeano (570883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750810)

Personally I think the approach being taken by the big box stores is disingenuous. If you absolutely depend on the ignorance of your customers to stay in business then there is something wrong with your business model. Arguably, that is the case with BB, CC and the like. This is why I try to avoid them when I can, preferring to buy from small stores that offer better customer service and better pricing models. Shoot, I'll pay a little extra even. I also shop online from vendors that are good about returns and honor warranties.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750914)

I never said I agree with the process, but I do understand the process. Some sacrifices have to be made to keep costs down. Its not the best method, but it does work. People who are very budget conscious, can shop around, people that don't care and have the funds, let them spend the $90 for a $5 HDMI cable, those people, are technically the ones subsidizing the rest of us who shop around and only buy core shit from big box stores and get the accessories elsewhere.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751054)

ignorance is required for a lot of people to stay in business. with knowhow and a few tools you can:

be an electrician, plumber, phone guy, cable guy, pc tech, network guy, carpenter, mechanic...

its probably a long list. the business model is more like "nobody will pay 600 bucks for that tv...that cost us 470 bucks. so lets charge them $499 and make the rest up in accessories they HAVE to have, so it all costs the same, and they dont feel raped about the tv, and we can make a living"

people are cheap. mind numbingly cheap. even rich people can be cheap. if a business could get the electronics sold with a 10 or 15 percent profit the cable prices might be reasonable, but since people barely want to pay, this is what happens.

im not arguing it on either side. everyone wants to pay as little as they can for something, and everyone wants to make *as much* as they can doing whatever they do for a living. thats what i want.

people are cheap, and greedy. you go try to sell electronics in a market where you can get tv's and stereos and laptops at a dozen different places in a single town and see if you 3 dollar cables attract people to pay the extra 25 bucks for your tv so you can still make your profit, and feel good about yourself.

it wont happen. advertising rock-bottom prices on cables isnt going to get you customers, advertising it on a 36" LCD will.

Re:More than just ink... (5, Funny)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750816)

Who the hell buys ANY cable from a retailer like Best Buy or Circuit City?
Dummies like me. Spent $20 on a USB connector last night to see if I could transfer video from my DishTV to computer after I switched to Uverse.

I guess guys like Best Buy figure there's a handful of lazy people like myself who eventually get tired of digging around in boxes for hours hunting down an old cable you swore you had at one point in time, getting distracted even further as you scrounge up and discover old 5-1/4 floppies and a Hayes baud modem with rubber ear muffles in mystery box number 23. I don't know why I cling on to this crap, but Best Buy knows me better than myself I guess.

By the way, as I left store last night, some guy in tattered clothing with a grizzled beard was lurking in the parking lot and approached me, "Pssst. Hey, buddy. could you spare a DB9 to DB25 connector for a friend?"

Re:More than just ink... (4, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751038)

Wanna "make friends" at a place like Best Buy or Circuit City? Wait till you see Grandma about to buy one of those cables and is being pounced on by the salesguy -- then tell her about the twenty other options for getting that cable for next to nothing.
So that's what nerds have been reduced to.... picking up old ladys at Best Buy with promises of cheap USB cables. *shudder*

Re:More than just ink... (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750652)

Who the hell pays $30 for a USB cable?
Ever been out of town and found you needed a cable - USB / Firewire / Cat5?

I may have rolls of the stuff, crimps, tools the lot, but if you're not at home, need a cable and it's 7pm you might just have to hold your nose and pay for it.

That's not to say it doesn't stink. It does. The system is rotten that lets these stores charge this sort of markup just so they can say their printer is 49c cheaper than the next store.

However it's not going to change any time soon, there's just too much money to be made. A small amount from geeks who just need something there and then, and a much larger amount from customers who don't know better and actually trust these guys to sell them what they need at a price that's fair.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751012)

That may be true. Sometimes you just need 20 feet of cable, and you don't feel like buying 1000 ft of the stuff. What I do, is run down to my local independantly owned computer shop. While the cables aren't as cheap as buying in bulk, they are at most half the price of the big box stores.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750698)

I think this week's Staples ad shows a WiFi printer or two. I'd experiment to see how fast it is compared to its wired network jack or the USB port. It just doesn't seem like wireless would be a very quick way to print.

It doesn't sound like a feature that I'd want or need, especially since I can just hook it up to my router or any network jack and be a "wireless" printer for my notebook just because it's on a network with an AP.

Re:More than just ink... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750928)

It just doesn't seem like wireless would be a very quick way to print.

How much do you intend on printing? Anything less then 20 pages should print extremely fast to a Wifi printer (as it's going to either have an 11Mbps or 54Mbps wireless connection). Even 20+ page print jobs should print fast once the job has been spooled. And it kicks ass to be able to put the printer anywhere there's a power outlet (not being restricted by network jacks or USB cables).

Re:More than just ink... (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750898)

Just ask Canon about the failure of their Wifi printers - you could not buy them at *any* retail store (or even Dell, which carried the rest of Canon's lineup) because the printer did not enable the retailer to sell the $30 USB cables.
My daughter needed a USB cable. I found one in the local supermarket for £4. Since I needed a USB hub, I bought a four port USB hub at the same time for £5; the hub included a USB cable. And recently I bought a 2.5" USB SATA case for £13.50. That included a case, an eSATA card (I assume) to put into a computer, and a USB cable. I don't even want to think about what I would have paid at Dixons or PCWorld.

I knew I missed my calling (1, Funny)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750462)

HP, Youa re bad, very very bad! Let Staples sell other company's ink for your printers... but on another note, I knew I missed my calling when I decided to become a programmer... Damn $8000 a gallon for ink... I wish I had about ohhh 10 gallons of ink. Its not so much to ask... blah...

Re:I knew I missed my calling (1)

goga_russian (544604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750886)

you want that in Black, Cyan or Magenta?

$100 million, eh? (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750466)

I'm pretty sure that paying a retailer not to stock your competitors' products constitutes collusion and is a clear violation of antitrust laws. This is akin to Nike paying Wal*Mart $100 million not to stock Adidas shoes. The only thing that muddies the water a little bit is that 'compatible' inkjet cartridges violate the DMCA and probably several HP patents, and hence are illegal. Anyone know how this might affect the lawsuit?

Re:$100 million, eh? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750554)

It is not a violation of antitrust law. It is done all the time. It is only illegal only if the courts decide that Staples has monopoly power over selling ink cartridges. Staples is not even close to a monopoly.
When was the last time you were in a food establishment that served both Pepsi and Coke products?
Anti-competitor product clauses are very common with retailers since it tends to increase their profit margins. In many cases it simply makes sense; you do not expect the Apple store to sell PC's.

Re:$100 million, eh? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750766)

When was the last time you were in a food establishment that served both Pepsi and Coke products?
When was the last time you went to a convenience store or a gas station that had only Pepsi or Coke products?

Most food establishments carry only one or the other more out of practical concerns than out of anti-competitive practices. Coke and Pepsi products usually have to be maintained on two separate fountains due to the fact that distributors for Coke fountains make it so that you can't use Pepsi and vice versa by using proprietary connectors and whatnot. There are exceptions to this -- machines that work for both Coke and Pepsi packs, but these are usually a lot more expensive and not worth the restaurant's investment.

Now with chains -- usually what happens is that the chain signs a deal to carry exclusively Coke or Pepsi products across the entire chain due to getting a discounted price. That's a bit different than outright kickbacks.

Re:$100 million, eh? (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750756)

How about paying a university not to stock Pepsi? Or a franchise not to stock Coke? Oh wait, both these things happen all the time. Where's the news here again?

Re:$100 million, eh? (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750868)

I'm pretty sure that paying a retailer not to stock your competitors' products constitutes collusion and is a clear violation of antitrust laws. This is akin to Nike paying Wal*Mart $100 million not to stock Adidas shoes. The only thing that muddies the water a little bit is that 'compatible' inkjet cartridges violate the DMCA and probably several HP patents, and hence are illegal. Anyone know how this might affect the lawsuit?

Much of this depends if the US and other countries will enforce their anti-competitive laws. These laws exist but haven't been exercised in years. There is no reason I should not be able to buy a competitive refill for these things. Cheaper to buy a new printer than a cartridge might also stem the flows of new printers into our dumps.

Re:$100 million, eh? (2, Insightful)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750972)

Compatible inkjet cartridges and the DMCA - yet another reason this silly piece of legislation needs to be destroyed. How is a compatible ink cartridge any different than aftermarket auto parts? I go to a parts store and have a choice of several oil filters, alternators, tires, rims, whatever for my truck. There should be nothing different about printer manufacturers - it's their own tough luck if they decided on a business model that put their entire profitability into the purchase of ink.

$8000/Gal? (2, Interesting)

Bai jie (653604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750490)

Not that I don't think that ink is severely overpriced but where did they come up with this number? Did they include the price of the cartridge that the ink comes in as well?

Re:$8000/Gal? (1)

slim-t (578136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750532)

Did they include the price of the cartridge that the ink comes in as well?

Customers don't want to pay for the cartridge, it's just a way of diving up a cheap quantity of ink to make it expensive.

Re:$8000/Gal? (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751002)

Not that I don't think that ink is severely overpriced but where did they come up with this number? Did they include the price of the cartridge that the ink comes in as well?

They could also put 4 oz cartridges out so you don't need to buy them as often. And given it is glycol and food coloring it would only cost pennies more.

This is a classic case of waste marketing causing expense to the consumer. You get the printer for $29 as part of your new computer. You wrestle with it until you master it enough to get your photos and documents out without too much waste of ink. Not wanting to go through the hassle again for another printer you pay the $45-50 for a refill. The refill maybe costs HP 50 cents, maybe a $1 to make. And of course you need these often like a tax as they dry as soon as they are opened even if you don't print much. Then the recycle gimmick.

It would be good for HP to get slammed on this.

Cheap Ink (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750492)

It is only a matter of time before someone offered inexpensive ink. It was obvious that HP was taking extreme measures to prevent someone from competing in that space.

This shows how important regulation of businesses we need to have. Too many people don't want to get involved in anything (government or otherwise). It is sad that the people who run these businesses feel they don't have to be accountable at all to anyone about how they run their business.

Re:Cheap Ink (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750696)

They are accountable to someone. The stockholders. Not that I agree with them to charge $50 for ink when the printer is $30.

Re:Cheap Ink (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750736)

Cheap ink cartridges and ink refills have been around since the 80's and 90's, back in the days before they started chipping the cartridges. The only thing that has changed since then, is the technology that the vendors (all of them are guilty of this), that allows the vendor to lock out any "non vendor approved" ink cartridges, and tamper sensors to determine if a cartridge was refilled. Yes it sucks, and yes, it should be illegal, but currently, its not.

Hell, I remember back in the late 80's early 90's.. re-inking the ribbon cartridges on my schools old 9 pin dot matrix printer.. that thing rocked a solid page a min if I was lucky :)

My Deskjet 550C is still running (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750496)

Can be refilled. Runs cartridges until they're dry. Built like a tank.

Wish they still made printers like that. I'd like something as robust but faster and higher resolution.

Re:My Deskjet 550C is still running (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750544)

Can be refilled. Runs cartridges until they're dry. Built like a tank.

Wish they still made printers like that. I'd like something as robust but faster and higher resolution.
Get a laser printer. :-D Seriously. They're pretty cheap these days and built like a tank. Only bad thing about lasers is color performance for photos is still, IMHO, not on par with the best inkjets, but if you're looking for robust, fast, and high resolution, laser printers are the mark. (If you need absolutely the best color performance, inkjet or dye sub.)

Re:My Deskjet 550C is still running (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750806)

Exactly what I did, I picked up a $200 B&W HP laser printer (we don't print photo's) that works great.

The dye sub printers, although great for photographs, have their ink issues as well. Many of the current ones (atleast those designed for photo printing) have ink and paper cartridges that come together. When you run out of paper, you have to purchase a new cartridge, regardless of whether or not you used all the ink in them. Atleast the cheaper ones I have been looking into do, and the cost, still much much higher then taking your digital images to a photo processing store to get prints made.

Re:My Deskjet 550C is still running (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750828)

Depending on volume/type of color being printed, the kiosk at your local superstore can be a pretty good option, and somebody else gets to deal with the fixed cost.

Re:My Deskjet 550C is still running (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750946)

Agreed. Walmart prints the photos I upload for less than I would pay for the paper.

Re:My Deskjet 550C is still running (1)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750944)

Yes, this is very good advice, especially if you do just black and white printing.

Color [newegg.com] ones are even pretty reasonable.

I bought a LaserJet 4p on Ebay for something like $30 plus $20 shipping.
It lasted almost 2 years before I had to get toner. Again, Ebay, $12.
I print perhaps 75 pages a month.

So total expense for 3+ years of B&W laser printing, $62. I figure I saved
3 or 4 hundred over a comparable, slightly lower quality, slower inkjet.

Same here, Konica-Minolta FTW (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751082)

I bought a Konica-Minolta 2400W color laser printer from my boss about a year ago. It sits on my desk and always prints when I tell it to. Yeah, some of the prints don't look that great because I need to replace the imaging drum (it was in an office and got put through hell), but even thought that "Error" light keeps flashing, all day and all night, it's more reliable than almost all of the other IT equipment in my home. Also, my boss wanted to get rid of it so badly that he included two full sets of color toner cartridges and about 4 or 5 B/W cartridges... The estimated life on them all together will outlast the replacement imaging drum, if I ever break down and buy it.

I got the thing for $80. I've spend more than 5 times that over the last 5 years on printers, ink, and god knows what else in the inkjet world.

Re:My Deskjet 550C is still running (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750548)

I hear ya. They'll pry my LaserJet 4M out of my cold dead heads.

Re:My Deskjet 550C is still running (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751048)

Shit, dude, LaserJet 4M Plus. My company got rid of it a couple years ago, so I got to take it home. It's been complaining about low toner since Day 1 at home, but as far as I can tell, that warning is completely spurious. I've never changed the toner cartridge.

I can set it up to work over my LAN (one downside, no DHCP, only BOOTP), via ethernet. Plus, there's a big bonus for having a printer that allows me to legitmately say "PC LOAD LETTER? What the fuck does that mean?" on a regular basis.

There are probably oodles of these machines on eBay. They really are built like tanks, and they're about as heavy, too.

Never understood wasted ink... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750516)

Why not just make the printer tell the truth about how much is left, put in half as much ink to each cartridge, and sell cartridges for the same amount you are now? They could be making so much more money that way than through shady business deals like this one.

Re:Never understood wasted ink... (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750636)

Why not just make the printer tell the truth about how much is left, put in half as much ink to each cartridge, and sell cartridges for the same amount you are now? They could be making so much more money that way than through shady business deals like this one.
Contrary to popular belief, this isn't done necessarily to make the most money for the manufacturer. What's really happening here is that inkjet printers a while back got a bad reputation for bad for banding problems and other issues caused by clogged print heads and ink carts. What the printer manufacturer is attempting to do by using cartridge 'expiration' features is to avoid the problem by making the ink cart expire at a specific time and/or after a specific number of pages printed.

Mostly this is because most users are clueless and don't understand 3 things about inkjet printers:

1) Using plain (uncoated) paper is a bad idea. The paper dust gets in the print heads and clogs them.
2) If your printer has sat along time without being used, it probably has some dried ink stuck in the print nozzles. You need to clean the nozzles in order to get the best print results after it's sat for more than 2-3 days without being used. Even after cleaning, if image quality problems don't go away, you need to throw away the ink cart, no matter how much ink is in it.
3) Old ink carts (there's an expiry date on the box, usually) should be thrown away and not used.

Unfortunately, since they don't understand this, the printer mfr. puts chips in the carts to try to force the issue, when really the problem is user education.

 

Re:Never understood wasted ink... (1)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750948)

All your solutions seem to include throwing away about $50.

Re:Never understood wasted ink... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751050)

The difference is do you want to voluntarily throw away $50 or do you want HP to do it for you?

At least with the first option, there are a number of things you can do to eek a little bit more life out of the cart. Cleaning the cart most often times gets the nozzles unclogged. And, if repeated cleanings don't work, there are a few tricks you can try. For HP carts, take a foam rubber makeup application swab (ask a woman if you have no idea what I'm talking about), dip it in rubbing alcohol (91% works very well, 70% is okay) and rub it on the the print nozzles (that's the metal foil thing on the bottom/side (depending on printer) of the cart). That'll clean the cart a lot of times to the point it can be re-used. If you still can't get it -- it's probably a lost cause, but you might also try taking a pencil eraser to the print nozzles. Don't ask me why this works.

And if inkjet paper is too expensive for you, don't buy an inkjet printer -- you can't afford to have one. Get a laser printer.

Just get your cartridges refilled! (3, Informative)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750524)

Go to Cartridge World, or even Walgreens now. They will refill your ink very cheaply. You need to print a couple of pages to get the ink to come out, but after that, it is as good as new.

Re:Just get your cartridges refilled! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750578)

Go to Cartridge World, or even Walgreens now.


There's a store called "Cartridge World"?!?! Isn't that like "Spatula City" in Weird Al's UHF movie?

Re:Just get your cartridges refilled! (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750602)

Give them a shake first.

I blanche when if i go in a local store for something i see some smuck purchasing a hp orginal cartridge. Mind you the rest of the staff think i'm mad when i say theres still ink in the printers be they inkjets, or the laser printers.

Re:Just get your cartridges refilled! (1)

terraformer (617565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750748)

Think they haven't thought about that. Just make a cartridge that when removed and then put back in if it thinks there is more ink in it fail. Based on some experience with HP's new #2 cartridges, I think they already have done this.

Starter Cartridges still a bigger evil (5, Insightful)

Ezza (413609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750530)

When the cartridges shipped with your printer only have 10% the capacity of a new one off the shelf, to force you to buy a new one (with it's far higher profit margin), THAT is what people should be jumping up & down about.

Re:Starter Cartridges still a bigger evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750626)

I've always thought it was crazy that when you buy a new car, you have to keep filling the gas tank too! What a scam.

Re:Starter Cartridges still a bigger evil (5, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750680)

And they achieve that 10% capacity by having a little inflatable bag inside the cartridge to occupy most of the space, so even if you refill them you won't get much in... You have to burst the bag.

Re:Starter Cartridges still a bigger evil (1)

Front Line Assembly (255726) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750776)

Well that's what you get when buying a cheap HP or other shitty printer. If you really want to print (nice looking) photos buy an epson. An R360 probably costs ~$150, and I have printed about 5 A4 sized photos, tens of "normal" small photographs and 20-30 larger photos with the original inks, and they still haven't run out! The printer started complaining about low ink about 20 photos ago.
And I don't recommend buying non-brand inks, have broke too many printers with them. Hard to believe but it's true. And about 20% of the no-brand ink cartridges weren't recognized by the printer. And clogging and striping was also problematic with them.

Re:Starter Cartridges still a bigger evil (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750862)

I would not call all HP printers shitty. Yes they have shitty ones, so does Epson, Canon, in fact every brand has a bunch of low end shitty printers. They also all have some very nice lower end printers as well (over $100 less then $300). While I do agree with you with regards to getting generic ink to refill cartridges (assuming the cartridge does not have tamper sensors that render them useless when you do refill them), some of the "knockoff" no name brand imported from china replacement cartridges, are often made by the same company that makes the official ones, and sells them grey or black market to people who end up selling them at smaller shops and computer shows. Those will work just fine, but often the case is figuring out which ones are the ones you want to purchase.

What really chaps my hide... (5, Insightful)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750536)

...is printers that refuse to print a document when the level of one color of ink is low even if the document being printed doesn't use that color at all. I have an Epson that I like pretty much. It has individual cartridges for each color of ink but if, say, the cyan cartridge is empty, I can't print even if the page is nothing but black text. There's no real reason for it, it's strictly a software (or firmware) limitation put in by the manufacturer.

Re:What really chaps my hide... (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750632)

It's usually the driver...
I have several printers that behave that way on windows and mac with the official drivers, but running unofficial drivers or using them on linux it will print increasingly light shades of grey until it runs out completely... Some will actually print with no ink, and just feed out blank sheets.

Re:What really chaps my hide... (3, Interesting)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750634)

Or the other one.. Expiring ink. The company I worked for used to buy ink in bulk to save money. When we started using some of those cartridges, we found out they had "Expired" and the software would refuse to let you print unless you changed the system date back to a time before the expiration date.

Re:What really chaps my hide... (1)

iregisteredjustforth (1155123) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750644)

You should be able to turn this off. I can on my familie's DX3800. Look around in the printer options and find a way to turn Epson printer status monitor or whatever it's called off. It will then print with one of the cartridges empty, and will also stop giving you stupid messages about using non geniune Epson ink. It does mean you can't see the levels of the ink cartridges though so turn it on every so often to check.

Re:What really chaps my hide... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750774)

I haven't owned a printer in many years, but I recall a similar issue and found a setting in the printer software that allowed me to print text still even if one color wsa low. This could have since changed, but I'd look around if I were you.

Re:What really chaps my hide... (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750962)

...is printers that refuse to print a document when the level of one color of ink is low even if the document being printed doesn't use that color at all. I have an Epson that I like pretty much. It has individual cartridges for each color of ink but if, say, the cyan cartridge is empty, I can't print even if the page is nothing but black text. There's no real reason for it, it's strictly a software (or firmware) limitation put in by the manufacturer.
When that happened to me, I asked around at work and some colleagues dads printer had just broken down, so I gave my Epson printer to him. Didn't want any money for it. The printer was replaced with the cheapest Samsung Laserprinter I could find for £50. Came with a half empty cartridge, good for 1500 pages and lasted two years. Refilled with toner for £15 which is supposed to last for 3000 pages. Never needed any cleaning of the cartridge, never needed any service, never failed to print a page on the very first attempt without any flaws.

Why it won't print if an unused color is empty (1)

Fencepost (107992) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751018)

This is probably one of those areas where it's never been worth anyone's time to go back and change how the drivers work.

If you think of your print job going to an inkjet as a stream instead of as a collection of page objects it may make more sense - that's what they originally were and probably still are, which is why you can print high-resolution graphics without having any significant amount of RAM in the printer. Sure you can add the equivalent of full-page buffering in the driver, and some of them probably build the image of what's being printed in just that way (Windows GDI printing, anyone?) but what's the incentive for the manufacturer to do so?

Blocking if any ink tank is empty is much simpler than generating the print data, determining which colors are needed (hopefully while the print job is being generated) then going back and prompting only if necessary.

People still print things? (1, Informative)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750542)

Wow, I think I last used a personal printer around the same time I last used a floppy, 1998 maybe? :) I remember buying a cheapo ($10, couldn't pass it up) inkjet a couple of years ago just to have one and never once used the darn thing. Now I have used the one at work a couple of times to print airline boarding passes but that's about it.

Re:People still print things? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750910)

I quit using printers too, what a hassle. I had a cheap bubble jet and started refilling my cartridges wit a syringe and some ink from atlas business systems, inc. (I still have a bottle). I got color and black but started mixing just whatever in the black cartridge so I could print in all red or purple, etc. :) I haven't tried to print anything in years, they helped me get over my reluctance to read etext so I guess they're at least saving trees with all the crazy printer renting.

Ink Volume (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750546)

I recently bought a digital camera that included a photo printer as part of the package. I was shocked to see that the included ink cartridge was listed as containing 2.5 ml of ink. That's about 1500 ink cartridges per gallon. I wish I had a racket like that.

Collusion is slowly ending... (5, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750580)

Since I run a small print shop for churches, we go through a ton of ink and toner, to the tune of about $3000 per week. We buy ALL our ink and toner is very large amounts (toner by the kilogram, ink by the half gallon). Refills are cheap. And yet, I don't think that retailers deciding together to not stock competitive products is "bad" collusion -- it's just how their market needs to work to be profitable.

Anyone can go online and buy cheap refilled cartridges that tend to work. If they're buying locally, it might be that they don't trust the Internet (stupid reason), or that they waited too long to stock up on ink (probably true). I yell at my folks constantly for paying $40 for one cartridge when I can get them a replacement for $3, but usually its due to the dreaded "Out of ink" message. Convenience can often times mean MONEY.

The manufacturers screwed up, big time. They didn't listen to the market, and they decided to give away the printer and hope to make it up on the ink. That's not how most markets work, not even the razor market now. Every item has to have a profit, or someone will find a way to sell your high markup goods cheaper. Many more people now are learning that the $49 inkjet has $49 cartridges OEM, or $12 cartridges aftermarket. The days of the $49 loss-leader are over (although I think you can probably make a profitable inkjet that sells at $35, with reduced features and a generic print driver).

I honestly don't think collusion is a big deal. I know it supposedly hurts consumers, but in the long run, competition DOES begin due to what seems like obvious price fixing. I recall the early days of computer RAM when you honestly had few resources for brands. Now we have dozens. When a few companies collude on RAM pricing, the competition generally fixes it. It may take a few years, but it happens, and the worst thing to happen to those colluding is that they lose market share or go out of business when consumers discover that they've gouged people.

Legal action is unnecessary. Let the market work. More laws and regulations will make it HARDER for new companies to enter the market.

Re:Collusion is slowly ending... (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750844)

toner by the kilogram, ink by the half gallon

Good thing you don't work for JPL! Metric mishap caused loss of NASA orbiter [cnn.com]

Re:Collusion is slowly ending... (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750942)

You wouldn't believe how many times I continue to order from my ink supplier by the kilogram, and from my toner supplier by the half gallon. For some reason, my brain made that mistake once and won't reset itself.

Lately, I'm having a really hard time saying "salt" instead of "ice" when it comes to buying the stuff you melt ice with. My wife goes crazy whenever I tell her we need to pick up "ice" mean in fact I meant to say "salt."

Old age at 33? No, it's been happening since I was a kid. Mental reject I am indeed.

Re:Collusion is slowly ending... (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750992)

It has nothing to do with selling a printer at a loss to make it up by selling the ink. It has to do with sustainability, if they sold ink dirt cheap, figure $5 a cartridge, and the printers at a 30% profit, well that one time sale on the printer netted them a profit, that person will most likely keep that good quality printer for a long time, and although buying ink regularly, the profit margin is so small that the company makes real profit to cover the overhead of operations.

Now, sell the printer at a loss, and the ink at a massive profit margin, and you have a guarantee of sustained income.

From a business standpoint, that makes perfect sense, from a consumer standpoint, it sucks ass.

InkGate! (0, Redundant)

link5280 (1141253) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750604)

Good reason to use a laser printer. Even before this great revelation I thought laser printers were a better long term investment.

Re:InkGate! (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750966)

I agree.

I purchased a Sansung ML-2251N A few years ago. It is black and white only, but it printed over 5000 pages before I needed to buy more toner. And probably jammed about 4 times in the same span of time.

It was $200.00 well spent.

Irony Town (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750606)

The 130 page lawsuit was printed in a HP... 8 cartridges were wasted for this.

So? (1)

CXI (46706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750618)

Whenever my office has been tempted to put non-HP ink in our business class printers they have had printing issues or leaked inside the printer, resulting in having to buy another cartridge and clean the printer. So HP cartridges end up being a lot cheaper than the cost of an off-brand cartridge + printer service call + replacement cartridge for the one that didn't work. Maybe at the consumer level refills and off brand can work, but not for high volume or accurate color printing.

Re:So? (1)

XSforMe (446716) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751060)

>our business class printers

HP's Business Inkjet line is about the only inkjet which is a sane choice to buy. It's cost per page is up there with color lasers.

>Whenever my office has been tempted to put non-HP ink

Some time ago management of the place where I work had somebody "tipped" them about the benefits of retrofitting cheap inkjets with external tanks. I refused to support that solution, if they wanted to play paint smearing I wished them good luck. They wanted a portable color printer, and the BI line came to be a middle ground.

HD-DVD/Paramount Collusion? (2, Informative)

mobybeaver (860261) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750620)

If HP paying Staples $100 million to not carry competitors' products is collusion, shouldn't we consider the HD-DVD camp paying Paramount and Dreamworks $150 million to not release Blu-ray titles collusion?

Don't like reading on an LCD? (3, Funny)

davermont (1001265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750630)

Hewlett Packard recommends printing this story and comments for maximum readability/portability. Use full color for best results.

Old news (5, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750640)

Haven't personally used an inkjet for about six years. Laser all the way. You can get colour networked laser for home use for about £300, with reasonable sized toners. I even have a Samsung that have a refillable combined toner/drum that's only on it's second actual toner/drum and has been refilled dozens and dozens of times from a £10 toner bottle. Perfect prints every time, used every single day.

The amount of time you need colour is pitiful, and for home use (business should not be using inkjet, no excuse) it's virtually all for photos - that's the only real time a laser can't cut it, when you want a small glossy. Then, taking your photos on a card down to the local supermarket works out much, much, much cheaper. My brother bought a load of second-hand HP Laserjet 4MV's on eBay - all ex-business, all done about 100,000 pages minimum, all still going strong five years later and toner is dirt cheap and easy to come by. This is a person who prints out 50 copies of 100-page brochures every week.

Re:Old news (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750894)

colour networked laser for home use for about £300
Is that including PostScript in hardware? L3 would be nice, L2 will do.

Re:Old news (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750990)

Agree. I don't own a printer. I print out things like flight confirmations and stuff like that on the laser at work and for photos I take my SD card down the J Sainsbury, use their photo station and get my pictures back at very reasonable rates.

Staples sells lots of non-HP cartridges (1)

1sockchuck (826398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750672)

If HP paid Staples $100 million, they sure didn't get their money's worth. Staples sells a wide range of cartridge refills for non-HP printers [staples.com] . That includes cartridges that work with Dell printers, providing an alternative to ordering online via Dell - which is interesting since Staples is now selling Dell computers in their stores.

Laser Printer (5, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750712)

Why people continue to buy ink jets is beyond me. I paid only $350 for an HP Color Laserjet 2605dn a year ago, and my starter cartridges are still going strong. This printer has built-in duplexing, networking, web management, and is postscript so works flawlessly with any computer you'd like to use with it. Bonus: no worrying about ink cartriges drying up, or print heads clogging.

Buy a laser printer. For pictures, have them developed at wal-mart for like $0.10 each.

BTW...HTH do I tag an article on /. I'm not a subscriber, but I've had this account for several years, so according to the FAQ I should be able to tag articles.

Do they have a monopoly? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750726)

Does HP have a monopoly on ink cartridges? In Australia they certainly don't (when I think ink cartridge they're not a company I typically think of) and TFA merely says they're dominant.

So How Long (4, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750832)

So how long will it be before somebody manufactures an industrial-grade inkjet printer with durable metal parts, which takes bulk ink (by flexible hoses, from litre bottles which can be hot-swapped) and incorporates PostScript Level 3 in hardware so absolutely no driver issues?

There's definitely a market for such a machine. I've been using a HP Business Inkjet, which is certainly semi-industrial and although not PS, uses a common driver; but it still takes ink cartridges (double-sized black cartridge, though) and a new set adds up to a hefty amount. A bulk-fed, metal-built printer would easily outlast the number of cartridges you could have bought for the same price.

Back in the day, (1)

SteveWhitty (950075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750878)

About 6 or 7 years ago I worked for a small local PC repair outfit. I remember the owner used to take his truck to trade shows and distributors and buy dozens of inkjet printers at a time for $40. Then we'd take out the two $40 cartridges that came with them and put them on the shelf. The printers went into the dumpster.

People will find ways to save their money. They always do.

HP, oh how you've changed. . . (4, Interesting)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21751074)

--I remember when I had an old tank-tough HP Laserjet II. (It needed these huge postscript cartridges just to output in a font other than courier.) It was only 300 DPI, but the output was sharp and sweet. It used a gas laser because LED lasers hadn't yet been invented, but that beast totally rocked. --It would work forever, and its tone cartridge lasted for many thousands of copies. And the paper feed NEVER jammed. It was one of the finest bits of engineering I've ever come across, and HP was a company which made me think, "Ah! Humans are awesome creatures capable of doing wonderful things!"

But then something happened at HP. A number of years later, I remember one of the top dogs in management declaring that they were taking the company in a new direction; that their old methods were being updated to reflect better business models. --This spin-doctored response came as when they were asked why their printers had begun to suck shit.

I today own an HP Laserjet 5L. It is a piece of crud. --It's output looks sharp, but it's a flimsy piece of junk which stopped working properly about a year after I'd bought it. It jams constantly and the toner cartridge seems to run out far more frequently. I'd tell HP to go to hell, but I think they may already be there.


-FL

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