Ink Cartridges Are A Scam

Ink Cartridges Are A Scam

Okay, there’s a story.
Flashback almost a decade ago, I’m working at an unnamed telemarketing centre
as a “technical support assistant” for an unnamed computer company’s laptop division.
Y’know when you call customer support and nine times out of ten the person you’re connected to
is from a different country, and you can’t understand them, and they can’t understand you?
I was that one time in ten when you’d reach somebody from the States
and actually get the help you needed much faster.
And you might have noticed – if you’ve ever had the misfortune of ever calling into technical support –
that they spend around 20% of the time actually fixing your problem
and about 80% of the time…trying to sell you stuff.
That’s because they’re trained to.
The tech company you purchased that laptop from also needs to sell other products to stay afloat,
often times overpriced mouses, backup drives…
Antivirus software is a big one because it’s easy to get computer-illiterate folks to buy into;
Anything to make an extra buck while trying to fix the broken thing
that you’ve already shelled out many for.
So anyway, one day, I’m sitting at my desk, getting yelled at by an irate customer from Georgia
and a note comes across my computer’s alert system.
Every few weeks the manufacturer has to liquidate old products,
because they’re about to get replaced by new models,
and it was our job to try to sell these old products at full retail price
to customers unaware they were about to go on sale.
A bit shady, but par for the course.
The Georgia dude eventually hung up on me
and a second later I was connected to a woman in Nevada
who had a really simple question:
She had just purchased her laptop
and she didn’t know how to install her word processor.
I quickly walk her through the process, chatting her up to see if I can sell her something,
and I learn that she’s about to head to her freshman year of college.
[Posh accent] “COLLEGE, you say? Well, dear madam,
have you a PRINTER to produce HARD COPIES of all the ENGLISH ESSAYS you’ll be writing?”
(I…didn’t actually ask her like that.)
“Oh, I…hadn’t thought about getting my own printer.”
“WELL THEN, I can order a model this MORNING
and have it delivered RIGHT to your DORM on the MORROW!”
So I pulled up our internal store page and accessed the printer section.
So, a quick little ditty about that page:
When I, the tech agent, pulled up a product I was presented with two prices,
one in red and one in black.
The black number was the retail price:
This is how much you would sell the product for over the phone.
The red number was the manufacturing price:
In other words, how much it cost the company to make that product.
Now, why did it tell us this figure, I have no idea.
I think it had something to do with the fact that
the bookkeeping folks used the same internal system as the retail folks?
I-I don’t know, I’m sorry, I get distracted a lot.
So I’m scrolling through the different printer models and talking to the girl about
all the various features that each one of them offers
and at the bottom of my screen I catch a glimpse of replacement ink cartridges
and my jaw drops.
We were selling packages of standard capacity multi-colour ink cartridges for $59.95,
and the cost of manufacturing?
23 cents!
I was stunned. I mean, so stunned that I put the Nevada girl on hold
and called my supervisor over.
I pointed at the screen and asked him, “is that really the cost of manufacturing?”
He took a glance at the screen, laughed, then nodded,
I looked at him in disbelief. “That’s a total scam!” And he said,
“Eh. What can you do about it.”
Which leads us to today. Today, I am doing something about it.
So this is an ink cartridge, and inside of it is printer ink,
the most expensive liquid in the world, right behind king cobra venom,
scorpion venom, Chanel number five, insulin, and mercury.
So first, some disclosure, I’m only gonna be hating on inkjet printers like this one.
Laser printers get a pass.
This is my mom’s printer.
This is about the fifth one that I’ve bought this week.
It excels in two areas:
Number 1, the ink cartridges always need to be replaced,
and number 2, it’s always broken.
Seriously, this thing worked for like a hot minute and then I started getting the good ol’ white lines
everybody and their cousins probably experienced.
I called up technical support myself and the first question they asked me was,
“have you replaced the ink cartridges recently?”
So let’s talk about the wonderful scam of ink cartridges.
Here’s the inside of one of these babies. Pretty easy to manufacture,
just some plastic bits, the ink goes here,
but they market for about 50 bucks.
Now the line that we’re fed is simple:
“Ink cartridges are expensive because ink technology is expensive.”
HP reportedly spends $1 billion annually to develop printing technology,
but what really has changed about these fellows in that time?
Actually, not much. Like I said, plastic shell filled with ink.
Turns out all that technology is housed in here.
Ever notice how these cost usually cost the same amount as these?
Doesn’t that seem insane?
Well, what if I told you that it was all in the design?
You might not know it, but most printers are sold at a loss,
and the money is made back from the cost of printer ink.
This is a marketing ploy known as the “Razor & Blades Model”,
where one item is sold at a low price in order to increase sales
of the complementary good, which is often a consumable
that must continually be resupplied.
In a nutshell, “give ’em the razor, sell ’em the blades.”
The ploy here is, “give ’em the printer, sell ’em the ink.”
Mark up the price of the consumable, and before too long,
the printer itself is paid for.
But, turns out the methods used to recoup those costs
haven’t always been so noble.
Right, so tonnes of ink cartridges are manufactured with this little chip on them.
Printer companies like to tell us that this little thing’s purpose
is to “monitor the quality of the ink!”
“The chip lets you know when your printer is running low on a particular colour!”
“The chip can facilitate firmware updates to improve performance!” All of this is baloney.
The chip is designed to get you to spend more money.
For example, say you’re running low on cyan ink.
The chip will tell the printer to stop operating,
Even if every other colour type is full, until that single colour is replaced.
But here’s the rub: A lot of the time the chip says you’ve got low ink,
you actually don’t.
False low ink notifications are really, really, common.
In fact, the next time you get one you might find that if you take the cartridge
and perform a little techno-voodoo to reset the chip,
you’ll actually have plenty of ink still inside. What gives?!
Imagine if your car’s gas tank had a chip inside of it
that forced the vehicle to stop operating completely
once you hit half a tank.
There would be rioting in the streets because as a consumer,
you should have the right to drive that sucker until it’s bone-dry
and then refill it at your convenience, right?
Well, what if like cars, I could refill my ink cartridges after they’re empty?
OhohohoHO, the chip is designed to prevent that as well.
Many printing companies designed their chips to detect
when the consumer was attempting to refill a used cartridge,
and it responded by – you guessed it – disabling the printer completely.
In fact, just last year, a major court case over that very issue
between Impression Products and Lexmark went all the way to the top
and the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the little guy,
reaffirming a consumer’s right to repair
and modify products after they’ve been purchased.
It makes no sense that something like that had to go to the highest court in the land,
but in the printing world, exploitation of consumers is the rule of the day.
For example, did you know that many printers purposely mix
a little cyan ink into every black and white document you print?
That’s right, wile you’re thinking, “hey, I’ll just print black and white
to save my colour cartridges”, printers are designed to use
a bit of colour without telling you, and as we’ve mentioned before,
if even one of those cartridges registers as low ink, the entire machine is disabled.
[Crowd goes “oh”]
Oh, but the companies say this extra little bit of colour gives it a “purer black”.
[Distant] “That’s not how it works?!”
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t try to circumvent any of these things
or if your printer breaks, attempt to make any repairs,
because most manufacturers will void your warranty
the second you start tinkering around in the internal components.
And believe you me, they’ll break.
Again, and again, and again.
Printer heads will be misaligned,
dirty, damaged, dead-on-arrival,
and for every diagnostic you run, every test page you print,
you’ll be using up those lovely ink cartridges more and more and more and more.
You literally get to pay to make sure the thing you’ve already bought still works on a regular basis.
Isn’t that great?!
Yes, no matter what company you go with,
all of printers suffer from the same eye-gouging issues:
The ink costs too much, it always needs to be replaced,
the printers always have driver issues, wireless never works,
the interface on every model is impossible to figure out…
Personally, I think it’s time we said enough.
Enough with paying a ridiculous amount of money for a product that costs next to nothing to manufacture,
a product that doesn’t work half the time, and the other half when it does work,
it’s restricted by the manufacturer to make sure you can’t get full use out of it.
A product that changes yearly. A product that is designed to stop working
and force customers to purchase another product,
even if there’s nothing broken about the product in question!
Take this thing, for instance.
This is my mom’s printer; she uses it to print letters.
It wasn’t printing them right so she went out and spent 60 bucks
on new ink cartridges thinking that would fix the problem,
and after struggling for a day figuring out to install the bloody things,
she tried printing the letter again, but the problem still wasn’t fixed.
I got to hear about it over the phone.
So then I drive about half an hour to get the printer and take it home
where I waste the rest of the new cartridges’ ink to run a bunch of inconclusive diagnostics
to try and figure out why it’s not printing correctly.
By the time I determine that the printer has a common yet for some reason unrepairable hardware issue
I discover the cheapest option is to just order a replacement,
but I CAN’T order a replacement, because they update their printer models each year,
so now I have to go buy the new-and-improved model,
and I can’t use the old ink cartridges in this new-and-improved model
because the new-and-improved model uses a whole different ink cartridge type,
so I have to spend another $50 on these new-and-improved ink cartridges
(which, it turns out, just have a slightly longer piece of plastic on the inside)
and by the time I get this new and improved printer ready,
I discover the new-and-improved printer’s drivers aren’t compatible with my mom’s computer,
so I’ve got to go on the printing company’s obtuse website
and use their auto-detect tool (which doesn’t work) to try and find a driver that IS compatible,
and in order to locate the compatible driver by hand, I have to determine if she’s using a computer
that runs on a 32-bit operating system or a 64-bit operating system,
which many of you at this point may realise,
is not the kind of information that moms usually know the answer to,
so by the time we figure THAT all out, and get the printer working properly, we’re left with an obvious question:
Why is this still a problem in the 21st century? We shot a CAR into SPACE.
I’ve been waiting to do this for a while…
That felt better.
We can do this, people. Together.
Share this video today, and start a revolution.
Tell these companies that enough is enough,
we want affordable ink, we want printers that work,
and we want printers that last.
Think I knicked my cheek.
Thanks to these Patreon backers for their continued support.
Do you want to find more content like this?
Then…look harder.
I dunno.

46 thoughts to “Ink Cartridges Are A Scam”

  1. Merriam-Webster backs me up, you goobers.
    “plural; mouses : a small mobile manual device that controls movement of the cursor and selection of functions on a computer display” ✌🏻

  2. you can have a mod printer and they can be recharge, i love these mods cuz for 3 dollar each color you can have month and month of tasty ink

  3. > Says he's gonna give laser printers a pass
    > Continues to show stock video of laser printers printing while telling us things we knew 20 years ago about inkjets

  4. Am I bonkers or is this a re-upload?? I feel like I saw this 3 years ago? I just came back and apparently it’s been a year and a half

    I’m questioning life and time now

  5. Just buy ink from a discount ink shop, or use a printer with cartridges that can be refilled with some know-how.

    Don't hold your breath waiting for greedy corporations run by sociopaths to have a change of heart.

  6. My mother bought me a printer but I rarely used it, somehow I didn't think about the fact that cartridge ink can expire even during non-use.

  7. And the worst part about all this is the MASSIVE amount of waste plastic being generated. Not that I should be surprised that a company willing to take these kinds of unethical steps to sell more, would also be irresponsible about the consequences. But what do we do about it? I need to print.

  8. I just had a small argument with my mom about the ink running out. She asked me why the ink is already low when she bought it two or three months ago. Neither my grandmother or I were print often, so I was just as confused as she was.

  9. Printer: Low ink!
    Me: sigh replaces ink
    Printer: Prints with lines
    Me: replaces printer
    Printer: cannot connect to system driver.
    Me: Plays "Still" by Geto Boys, grabs baseball bat.

  10. We all find ourselves at the mercy of diabolical greed. To be stupid enough to sacrifice one's intelligence for the sake of status as in a $100 pairs of  Niki's  that cost $12  to manufacture and export is one thing. To be subjected beyond built in obsolesce is another. It's all part  of their well orchesstrated gotcha ploys.  I can readily identify  with the video- in particular the last few seconds. I've carried out that very same  process but grew more pissed when the sledge hammer's anvil  broke off.  The applied theory of my Stress Management courses  went out the window. It was like  paper-scissors-stone. Bashing at a chunk of plastic with a wooden club- then utilizing the stout anvil itself.  At which  point my dog just cocked his head upwards, as his eyes grew wide, sensing the frustration. The innocent creature took a few steps backwards. I was now  far past Customer Service and  not in the mood for an elevator's ensemble of greatest hits- nor willing to decrypt those obnoxious foreign accents..The pounding continued- just  like a drunken domestic dispute out of some trailer park. I was merely venting. Yet the chunk of plastic only splintered in a few large fragments here and there– as if in total defiance of it's doomed fate. Then I really got pissed. The dog  backed away even further.  It was time to take matters outside. Residing in the countryside, I was damned if I'd  to cave to the cubical amenities of human resources and their departmental procedures-I had my own in mind. A bon fire came to mind. Despite the mild wind shift of deadly toxic fumes as if my Huey Prickard piece of shit was vying for it's last hurrah. From within the flickering flames-at last- those wretched little ink cartridges finally emitted their rich hues of Cyan, Cerpa and Yellow in one last, very brief, colorful flume. I watched gleefully as the plastic chunk self contorted itself into a blob- drenched over charred carriages of it's blacken remains. A man and his dog had triumphed over the vile and the greed of corporate technology. The  dog and  I slept well that night. I have concluded that one may return  to those "postal" themes of the mail service- via a 64 count box of Crayola and a Big Chief tablet. It would make for a better world.

  11. there really is no good reason to buy a Inkjet. Laser printers are better in every way and cheaper. can we just let that obsolete technology die already?
    when I started University I got myself a inkjet printer. I used it for a week, it moaned about ink, I replaced the cartridge, NOT ACCEPTED, then it broke for no reason, then I threw it out after i saw how utterly horrible the build quality was. I Just print stuff at the printer in the computer room in university now.

  12. But my printer ink torner I can reset the amount of ink in the torner or tell the printer to ingore the ink torner. I also had no problem modding ink tank into my printer and it works fine

  13. Ink: costs nearly as much as mercury
    Mercury: can kill you
    Ink: can kill your wallet and patience
    Which one is deadlier?

  14. 3:50

    Speaking of insulin, it's also a scam. It costs about 130 dollars to manufacture, and the man who created it actually sold it at the manufacturing price. He didn't want money, he wanted to help the world. But the people who became in charge of it weren't as humble and inflated the price to the ridiculous price that it is now. It really sucks that people care more about money than helping people stay alive.

  15. why don't you guys just buy a CISS type printer, it's easy to refill, cheap and some printer manufacturer already have an official product that support CISS ink refill type ? like the epson L100, L200, L300 or L365. those printers is very common in ASIA.

  16. just pry the fucking chip out hould work then

    if it dosent either use your works printer
    or go to hammer town on your inkjet and get a lazer

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