The Price of Printing or Planned Disappearance

Stairway to Printer Heaven

Stairway to Printer Heaven

My printer passed away last night. The print head had a massive heart attack. I performed several emergency medical procedures prescribed by my HP Solutions Center–all to no avail. Funeral services will be announced.

A helpful store clerk at Office Depot informed me that printheads often break within two to three years. “It costs nearly as much to repair them as it does to buy a new printer,” he added, smiling. I did not argue with the man. Some critcal part of every printer I have ever owned has broken down within this time-frame, and it never makes economic sense to replace the part.

Yet, I continue to buy HP printers, despite their limited life-span and the outrageous prices of the ink they voraciously consume. HP is a market leader, and I follow the herd because I shudder to think what catastrophes await the buyers of lesser brands.

Most printers displayed on major retail shelves are made in horrid factories by underpaid workers somewhere in China. I tell myself the HP factories are less horrid and produce better products than the others. At least I know what I’m getting when I buy an HP printer–a short but trouble free life span and high quality inks at unconscionable prices.

My new printer cost $149.00 (on sale) and the new ink cartridges cost $93.99.  At the risk of sounding unsympathetic and disrespectful to the dead, my old printer expired with about $50 worth of unused ink. My new printer is the updated version of the old printer. Naturally, the ink cartridges are not transferable. I had no choice except to buy new ink. This brings the total cost of my new printer to $292.99, not including sales tax.

As we all know, it’s not the cost of the printer that hurts. It’s the cost of the inks. I find that my color ink cartridges last about three months each, and the double size black cartridge lasts about six months. I am convinced the life span of HP ink is controlled by a secret technology kept ingeniously under wraps by the manufacturer.

My cartridges need frequent replacement regardless of the steps I take to economize on ink. If I avoid printing in color, my color cartridges still need to be replaced. The only explanation I have for this is that the secret HP technology enables the color cartridges to combine mysteriously to print in black.

My New Printer

My New Printer

If I cut down on using my printer, it makes no difference. In this case, the secret technology causes the ink in the cartridges to evaporate at a predetermined rate, thereby ensuring a three-month replacement cycle.

Adding to my consternation, it took me three hours to set up the new printer. This included a few breaks to watch my beloved New York Giants lose in the last two minutes to the Dallas Cowboys. This did not help to elevate my mood.

It used to be easy to set up a printer. There was basically one way to install the damned thing, and it was easy to follow the idiot-proof instructions. Now, there are several options at every step of the process requiring an advanced degree in engineering to decipher. On one of the setup screens, none of the options fit my setup criteria. I finally decided to go on to the next step without checking any of the boxes. I expected to see an error message pop up, but lo and behold, nothing happened. I had made the right choice, that is–no choice. I had guessed right, but I ask you, doesn’t that sound a bit counter-intuitive?

At some point, we will no longer need printers, paper, or ink.  Documents and images will fly through the air directly into our heads. Until that time comes, however, I could use a little advice on the subject.

“Stairway to Heaven” image by Sigurd Decroos /

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  1. #1 by L. Palmer on September 20, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    Printers are tricky beasts. My family currently has a Canon printer, which has slightly cheaper ink, but it still is a lot.


    • #2 by David Gittlin on September 21, 2013 - 12:06 am

      For some reason, I don’t buy Canon printers, although it is one of the leading brands. It’s a combination of habit and the fact that big box retailers tend to feature HP printers with many more models to choose from.


  2. #3 by Mike on September 18, 2013 - 2:04 am

    Sorry to hear about your printer, David.
    At the office, I have an HP LaserJet 1200 Series. Had it for more than 10 years. A real workhorse. Change cartridge every 3 months. Only prints in black, but print well it does.


    • #4 by David Gittlin on September 18, 2013 - 1:44 pm

      Hi Mike:

      Thanks for your comment. Sounds like good advice from Yoda.


  3. #5 by Happy Joe (@happyjoeshow) on September 16, 2013 - 11:42 pm

    Technology is great, except when it’s a huge pain in the ass. Sometime the best way to fix it is with the simplest tool around – a hammer.


    • #6 by David Gittlin on September 17, 2013 - 12:27 am

      Hi Joe:

      Yes. We’re charter members of the glass half full club, aren’t we?


  4. #7 by dgittlin1 on September 16, 2013 - 10:31 pm

    Too funny!

    Danielle Gittlin


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