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Ok, another typical case of an "obvious" Scam that affects us all and yet does not seem to have been much discussed on the web until now (please, oh please, prove me wrong :-(

The great printer Scam
"Citius, Altius, Fortius, Scamius"
by Fravia+, June 2000

Ah, wonderful progress... Did you happen to notice that you CANNOT buy a black & white deskjet printer any more? The reason for this is that colour inks solidify after a month of no use. Err... you don't get this cause-effect relation? Read further.

As you will infer reading this short essay, there actually must be a huge market for black and white printers, but, see, no one is (nor ever will be) going to produce them, even if most people NEVER use a printer to print colour images. This procentage varies between 78% and 89% of "always non-colour" users, depending if you count, or not, the odd couple of colour images that are exceptionally printed in some very particular cases). As usual our allmighty 'free' market couldn't care less about what people really need: the whole point is just to feed zombified consumers with useless products until they puke some more money out, and to make the most possible profit out of users held captive with vicious methods.

There are a lot of things going on behind this 'printer' business.

For an opener, most major printer makers use the same basic model design and print engines for all their desktop units, disabling features or downgrading performance to differentiate a (rather imaginary come to think of it) "range" of price points. This may sound (to you) as strange as an auto manufacturer building only eight-cylinder engines and then disconnecting a number of cylinders for cheaper models... something it would not wonder me to see soon enough.

Disabling features and downgrading performance actually makes sense in a world where users not only do not understand nutting at all, but are actively HELD from being able to compare real performances and prices - try your best search and try to find out places where you can compare printing costs per page if you don't believe me.
Of course, as usual, the political lackeys of the commercial powers that be will bend backwards to avoid imposing any rule against such deeds.

Disabling features and downgrading performance makes even more sense for printers, with buyers being however locked - independently from the model chosen - into the cartridge scam, where the real profits are to be made. And now we come to the real "pezzo forte" of to-days applied scamology.

Have you ever related the extremely low printer prices with the extremely high prices for cartridges? Have you noticed how ads go out of their way to underline how low are the entry prices for extremely advanced printers? And how seldom (if ever) do they care to report the price of the INK CARTRIDGE (the toner)? And how many pages can you print with an ink cartridge? What is the cost PER PAGE of a given printer?

The Lexmark Z11 is a very interesting example: this colour printer sells for so little (around 100 Euro) that many manufacturers bundle it with every computer sale. But its ink cartridges cost almost HALF of the price of the whole printer (around 40 Euro).

Most printers now REQUIRE you to have a colour cartridge inside them (even if you DO NOT use it). Alas! Said colour cartridge will slowly 'evaporate' and you'll have to change it regularly even if you never wanted to use it. The reason is that the colours are purposely prepared so that their inks solidify after a couple of months of no use. So, why are printer makers offering consumers ever-lower prices? Printer manufacturers make most of their profits nowadays from selling supplies-mainly ink cartridges for inkjets, and toner cartridges for laser printers. Buy their models and you’re locked into using their own ink cartridges. ("Genuine HP engineered ink"- sic). Moreover all cartridges are (of course - once more - on purpose) completely INCOMPATIBLE among different makers. Often enough there are cartridge differences even among printers of a given maker.

At Euro 15 to 40 per cartridge, with both a black ink and the three-colour cartridge that most printers require, your outlay for ink soon dwarfs your original "investment" in equipment. Since a few firms offer off-brand replacement cartridges for up to a third off the price of manufacturers’ own cartridges, you can thus easily understand what incredible profit marges there are in this field...

AS if the above were not enough to disgust us, there are also some 'minor' scams: some manufactures are selling print cartridges labled HC in big letters. They do not inform you that this stands for "half capacity" (why should they? You are supposed to be gullible after all). Lexmark is one of the worst offenders here. But even if this article underlines my personal disgust vis-à-vis Lexmark, do not believe for a minute that the remaining producers are not in toto part (and corresponsable) for the same 'minor' scam: all Hp & Epson printers now come with half full cartridges: look out for the product code on any Hp cartridge: if it has a 'G' on the end, the toner is half full (and not "half the price" as the scammers will try to make you believe).

During the past three years, the average price of colour laser printers plunged almost 75 percent. Plus, as printer prices fell, performance climbed: Average speed for colour lasers jumped by better than 60 percent, to 8.4 pages per minute on text and to 0.7 ppm on colour graphics. During the same period, the average price for home-oriented colour ink jet printers fell of about 25 percent. Meanwhile, text-printing speed surged 80 percent to 3.2 ppm and graphics printing speed almost doubled to a half-page per minute. Whoa! A nice world, a continuos neverending progress, "Citius, Altius, Fortius, Scamius" Once more: vendors don't need to profit on printers as long as users have to buy their incredibly expensive consumables. They need - on the contrary - to lock users into changing their old "outdated" and "obsolete" black and white printers for a new rabawizzig 2400*2400 dpi COLOUR printer. You dig it? That's the reason no one in his right mind should ever think to exchange with a "next to free" Lexmark his old "indestructible" Deskjet 500 (remember that heavy duty printer? Looks like an old Land Rover jeep and is exactly as tough: after 10 years, if it "does not grip" new paper sheets anymore, just pass some sandpaper on the three wheels and you are done for the next 10 :-).

Btw, should you want some 'commercial' data, to print a black and white page will cost you between 0,02 and 0,11 Euro, a colour page between 0,22 and 0.66 Euro

Come to think of it, Epson just won a recent round in as legal battle that pits Canon, Epson, and HP against smaller companies selling replacement ink cartridges. A huge new step toward captive markets: the big vendors may now compete for new customers by giving away printers. So why not printer for free?

Yep: You can now have Tektronix's well-endowed colour laser Phaser 840 for the asking ("real" cost around 3200 Euro) in exchange you are just compelled to make a certain number of prints per month, and to buy your 840's (quite expensive) special "blocks of resin inks" direct from Tektronix. How jolly nice and altruistic from them, eh?

A nice world, friend reversers.

I may add two elements:

fravia+, June 2000
PS: The sources for all data I have given in this lore are on the web. Find them: you are supposed to be seekers.
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