Monday 3 September 2007


This is a rant against my printer and the forces of evil that are at work in the very ink that flows through its black-hearted electronic tentacles.

There's a lot to be said for the Lexmark X5470. It can be used as a fax. It can scan. It prints extremely efficiently. Its colour printing is excellent. There are many adjustments you can make - in terms of print quality - that are also good cost savers.

But what I've only just learned is that all along, my printer has been watching me.

Alright, I could kind of accept the fact that it would start showing alarms that the ink had almost run out when in fact it still had a quarter of its life yet to go. It would pop up an option on my screen to order from Lexmark before going ahead with the printing, and annoy me even more by giving me the option of not going ahead with the printing before ordering a new ink cartridge. But the black ink cartridges are expensive - €25.50 - so after a few times shelling out that much money I went to a local shop that refills cartridges; cost €10. The guy warned me, however, that the computer chip in the Lexmark cartridge might prevent the refill from being useable. I've found out what he meant.

As soon as I put in the refilled cartridge a warning sign came up saying this was not genuine Lexmark ink. The icon supposedly displaying how much ink remains in the cartridges shows the black ink cartridge as empty. There is an 'alignment' action that the printer should carry out when it has a new cartridge installed and it did so under major protest, scrolling the warnings; 'out of original Lexmark ink, warranty does not cover blah blah blah...'.

It gets worse!!!

Now every time I want to print a document, I switch on the printer and it warns 'black ink low'.

Then when I click on a document to print, up comes a sign on my screen saying there is no Lexmark ink in the printer and I should order some. I of course click to shut that option. Then up comes a sign saying I should not go ahead with printing the document because I don't have black ink. I click to ignore that. Then it prints while showing me the sulky sign that there is no ink in the black cartridge. EVERY TIME I USE THE PRINTER I MUST GO THROUGH THIS!!!

Are all modern printers like this?

I am going back to an old HP printer here for all my black ink document printing. It works fine and isn't monitoring me. I'll only use the Lexmark for documents that need extra bells and whistles.

But it bothers me. To what extent are the inanimate things around us bullying us into making more profit for their manufacturers? It's too late to bring the printer back to where we bought it. And for all I know every modern printer is battling to have its manufacturer reap maximum profits. But I have enough difficulty dealing with people who try telling me what to do, let alone a smartass lump of plastic and wires.


Red Badger said...

You can check the little boxes that say "Don't show this message again" and you won't get yelled at before every print job.

All printer companies base their business model on you buying their genuine ink. Just like your favorite restaurant counts on you buying their "overpriced" wine rather than bringing your own.

If you are going to buck the system don't expect the system to make it easy on you.

Linzi said...

I have searched extensively for a solution to this.

I don't know if it was a fluke but I unplugged my printer to re-arrange my office, left it off (and unplugged) overnight and when I got up the next day as the cartridge was low I replaced it before I plugged the printer back in. I replaced it with a self re-filled cartridge that it had refused to accept many times and suddenly it decided it liked it and thought it was lexmark again(it was 34 high cap black)

I did make a bit of a mess when I was refilling it and ended up giving the cartridge a good clean and buffing the little copper connectors.

Anyway - it worked hopefully it might help someone