Junk The Printer

If I hadn’t just spent money on ink, I would probably have a new printer by now.

I knew I needed printer ink at Christmastime, but there seemed no point in buying some and opening the cartridge, then having the machine sit for six months. So ink was my first purchase once we were out of quarantine.

As a computer owner you know printers are sold below cost. Where the company makes its huge profit is the ink, which frequently can be more than the cost of a new printer.

So when my printer gave me an error message my first thought was to follow the instructions to fix the problem. I turned the machine off, disconnected the cord, and looked at the manual.

There I expected to find out what was wrong and how I could fix it. I confidently typed the error code into the search function in the manual. The results were instant.

I’m paraphrasing, but the meaning of the message was clear: Your printer is toast. Go buy a new one.

Ordinarily I would have believed it. As I said, printers are relatively cheap, and this one is about six years old, though admittedly it hasn’t seen much use with us in Germany. But I just spent more than $100 on ink.

There’s no guarantee a new printer would take the same cartridges. I don’t think I have ever had that happen. New models, new cartridge numbers. It isn’t a racket, exactly, but sometimes you wonder.

Reluctant to turn the machine into a doorstop, I went online looking for a solution. There was a consensus that the machine could be toast, but some users had helpful suggestions. Of course some of them couldn’t be tried because the machine wouldn’t do anything while displaying the error message.

Others, like removing the print heads and bathing them in a solution to clean them didn’t sound very likely. I wasn’t sure I could find them, let alone remove them without damaging them – the warning was that they were very sensitive.

Finally I found a suggestion involving opening and closing the ink resevoir doors while turning the pwer on and off. it made no sense, but it was teh easist option. I tried it. it didn’t work.

I tried it again, as it had been noted it didn’t always work. The second time was the charm. I appear to have a functioning printer. Maybe it will die again, but for the moment it is doing just what it is supposed to.

All of which has me wondering why the fix I found on the internet isn’t on the manufacturer’s website. I can understand them not promoting DIY repairs that involve taking the printer apart. Most of us would probably do more harm than good in attempting that.

But the solution I found was simple and unobtrusive. It worked (so far anyway) and will save me some money.

Maybe there is more profit in selling new printers than I thought.

What has been your experience with printers? Do they last more than a couple of years? Or do you just expect that you will have to replace them on a regular basis?



  1. BRADLEY Darbyson · · Reply

    Beware software printer enhancements from the manufacturer whose ulterior motivation is to sell more ink.

  2. I think the problem is often one of resignation, that is to say, some people simply resign themselves just throwing things out, while others of us, like you, keep wanting to believe another way is possible.

    1. It would have been easier to throw it out. Cheaper too if my time is considered to have value. But there’s something inside me that believes that appliances should last as long as they used to.

  3. Our HP conked out after replacing the ink, back at the start of Covid. We keep thinking about ordering new printer heads but obviously haven’t.
    So your insights are most welcome. At the moment, though, we’re quite able to cope without it.

    1. It is amazing how little we actually need to print things. My problem was partly that I did have things that needed scanning, and I dislike using my phone for that. Plus, when we have speaking engagements I always like to bring a hard copy text as a backup.

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