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#5. Forcing You to Toss Perfectly Good (and Expensive) Printer Ink
So, you're printing off your homework assignment/office report/ransom note/whatever, when your printer runs out of black ink. Well, time to drop (if you're lucky) $24 on a new cartridge.
If you ask one of the printer manufacturers why its ink costs more than fine wine, they'll tell you it's because a lot goes into those cartridges other than ink (though that doesn't answer why it can afford to include a cartridge with the printer, but not a USB cable). And the manufacturers are right -- a lot of the printing mechanism is right there in the cartridge.
Not to mention the kill switches they have to put into them to force you to throw them away before they're actually empty.
Yes, it turns out that many of the ink cartridges made by HP and Lexmark have switches in them that make the cartridges fail after a certain period of time, whether they're empty or not. This isn't just some crazy conspiracy theory, either. HP's senior "ink scientist" (yes, that's actually his real title), Nils Miller, admitted to this during an interview.
According to Miller, the reason for this is that most newer printers have "integrated plumbing" that could get clogged by "expired ink." If consumers want to avoid this, ahem, "feature," Miller suggests that they buy printers with an "integrated ink cartridge," as they don't have the kill switches. A little easier said than done, considering that HP doesn't list which printers do and don't have "integrated ink cartridges."
So why not just put the easily cloggable plumbing inside the cartridge? That way, instead of having to waste our money on temperamental cartridges, we could just toss the ones that get clogged. The printer companies decided they'd rather sacrifice our money so that they can "put more ink in the cartridge." More ink that you likely won't be able to use. This actually works out OK for an office, where they do tons of printing and will run out of ink long before it "expires." But the tens of millions of home users who aren't printing out lengthy manifestos every day are forced to toss countless perfectly good ink cartridges if we don't use them fast enough.
It Gets Worse ...
The natural thought is to say, "Well, screw them, then. I'll just refill my cartridge or get a generic one that won't suffer from this defect." Yeah, you can't do that, either. The supplies for printers (such as ink cartridges) make for 90 percent of their profit, and the printer companies aren't willing to let that go quite so easily. Those chips that the printer companies (including HP, Lexmark, Canon and Epson) install on their cartridges also limit the use of aftermarket cartridges.
HP disables certain features on aftermarket ink, while Lexmark blocks it outright. One remanufacturer, Static Control, attempted to make a cartridge that mimicked the use of the "smart chip" that Lexmark puts on its ink, and was subsequently sued by Lexmark for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Read more: 5 Ways Hi-Tech Retailers Are Secretly Screwing You | Cracked.com www.cracked.com...