If I'm ever sued, this site will go up for sale for the amount of damages sought, along with posting any documents I receive. If you think you can copyright a letter you send to me, go for it.
I'm still learning about blog design and I've found a problem when viewing this blog. It does not behave properly in small browser windows and if your display resolution is less than 1280 pixels wide and/or you are viewing the blog in a window less than 980 pixels blog wide, the right side bar is pushed below any visible post. I've searched the web and looked at the code for hours but can't find the problem. My next step, when I get the time, is to recreate the blog with a new template. Advice is appreciated.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My New Printer Is Gathering Dust

I purchased a new Lexmark X 4690 printer in early February and I thought it was wonderful for the first 45 days I owned it. Great price and it has built in WiFi so I love the fact that I don't have to find a USB cable every time I want to print something.

There is nothing wrong with the printer but ten days ago, I was again reminded of something that has long annoyed me and I've decided to protest. I'm tired of printer manufacturers trying to hold consumers hostage with their schemes to force us to buy their ridiculously high priced ink cartridges!

It's long been known that cartridges supplied with new printers are "short filled" and don't last very long. All you have to do is weigh an off the shelf cartridge and the difference is apparent. It didn't surprise me when the black Lexmark #4 cartridge started getting low after about 100 pages. I did what I always do, get the trusty drill out, make a small hold in the cartridge, fill it with ink and let it sit for a few hours. I put the cartridge back in the printer and still had a low ink warning. After a few more pages, the printer "told" me that my cartridge was out of ink and in order to continue to print, I had to order a new "Genuine Lexmark" ink cartridge.

I like to think I'm smarter than an inanimate hulk of metal and plastic but I admit defeat. To this day, it sits there with an evil grin and refuses to print in black. After an hour of trying to thwart Lexmark's cartridge protection scheme, I thought I'd found a solution but it turned out that I had stumbled onto Lexmark's "printing continuation" and all I was doing was depleting the Lexmark #5 color cartridge. I had forgotten you can get black by mixing primary colors.

Seems like a lot of work for little gain, you say. Consider that a new black cartridge might cost $25 and that I can refill it for about two bucks. It voids the warranty, you say. Nonsense, I reply. Besides, the scam is to sell you a printer at "cost" (very cheap) and make a profit on the ink. As a side note, that doesn't seem to be the Canon and HP business model. You might pay a little more for the printer but they don't try to hold you hostage on the ink. Back to the story.

As I recall, Epson was one of the first to put a chip on every cartridge and disable the cartridge after a certain number of pages even though the cartridge still had ink in it. A $5 chip "resetter" took care of the problem. Lexmark has taken the scam to new levels by a scheme they call their "Cartridge Return Program". The theory is that they "own" every Genuine Lexmark cartridge through patent/copyright/whatever and that it's illegal for any third party to duplicate the technology. Lexmark puts a chip with a serial number on the cartridge and has even gone as far as installing "reporting" software (spyware) on your computer when you install their printers. Wow, they sure go to great lengths to protect their ink business but the plan is failing, take a look at Lexmark v. Static Control. Ink is a cut-throat business worth hundreds of million of dollars a year and these guys are trying to protect their profits at the expense of the consumer! Our protection is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Click on the title of this post to go to Wikipedia and get the explanation.

My printer takes a Lexmark #4 black and a #5 color cartridge and the new cartridges are available at a number of local outlets but no one has came up with a way to refill the used cartridges. The same seems to apply to all the newer Lexmark printers regardless of which cartridges the printer uses. That would appear to violate Magnuson-Moss so Lexmark offers, in my case, a 4A and 5A cartridge that are not a part of their "Cartridge Return Program". In theory, at least, they are refillable. The X 4690 is a new printer model and I haven't found anyone who's actually tried it. The Catch-22 is that the "A" models are only available as an on-line order from the Lexmark store!

Thinking that might also be a potential Magnuson-Moss violation, I sought advice over the Internet and we devised a plan to "test" Lexmark. I started calling them and offering three options: tell me how to disable the chip on their #4 and #5 cartridge (they're not going to do it because I'd immediately post the information and it would be known world-wide in 72 hours), refund my money so I could use it to buy a new Canon or send me a #4A and #5A from the Lexmark store. It took 3 1/2 hours but I'm happy to report that my new cartridges are on the way and I hope to use my new printer for a couple of years and get 5 or 6 refills before I have to purchase new cartridges.

My advice is to spend the extra bucks up front and buy an HP or Canon but sometimes Lexmark (or others) offer such an attractive deal, they're hard to pass up. I'm getting in the game a little late but I'm going to try and do my little part. I've made a similar post on the major printer discussion sites and I've created a new email address to collect the names of other folks who are tired of spending their hard earned money for "crap":


I like to stay busy and hopefully there is enough interest to start exploring some type of class action against Lexmark under Magnuson-Moss. Rest assured that I haven't forgotten my other responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, looking for a new job, keeping the blog current, researching legal questions, avoiding seeking multiple remedies in a "hasty" manner, using my own situation as an positive example for others, attempting to deflate blimps (AKA gas-bags) and making a sincere effort (hopefully with good humor) to help others and protect my rights.

Stay tuned, 72 hours is almost upon us and I expect to make some important posts in the near future. I am a little disappointed with the response but the positive is that the blog has had over a hundred visits in 24 days and someone from the Philippines stumbled across it. Thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment