No one likes them. They're confusing, they go wrong all the time, and despite the fact everything else is becoming more user friendly — phones; cars; computers — printers seem to be woefully anchored in the past.
Well, YouTuber Gregory Austin McConnell is angry about this too. Very angry.
On Thursday, he published a video titled "Ink Cartridges Are A Scam". At the time of writing it's already racked up around 300,000 views, and it's sitting high on the top page of Reddit's r/videos sub.
The 12 minute video starts with McConnell talking about his time working at a tech support call centre. He claims he had access to the manufacturing price for different products during his time there.
"At the bottom of my screen I catch a glimpse of replacement ink cartridges and my jaw drops," McConnell says.
"We were selling packages of standard capacity multi-color ink cartridges for $59.95. And the cost of manufacturing? $0.23."
McConnell focuses the rest of his video on Inkjet printers and all the ways be believes the companies behind those printers are trying to scam customers.
"The line that we're fed is simple," says McConnell. "'Ink cartridges are expensive because ink technology is expensive.'"
Despite HP spending $1 billion annually on ink research and development, though, he argues that very little is actually improving.
Running out of ink
For a big chunk of the video, McConnell talks about the methods printer companies use to get money out of the customer — all of which apparently revolve around getting them to replace their ink cartridges more regularly.
The methods he refers to include:
- The ink cartridge chip telling the printer to stop working as soon as one color has run out (even if the other colors are still full)
- The ink cartridge chip sending "false low ink notifications" to your printer
- Blocking customers from refilling cartridges with their own ink or making their own repairs
- Printers using the color cyan even when printing in just black and white
One thing he doesn't mention, but which has been reported on before, is how the volume of ink in printer cartridges has also shrunk over time — something that's covered extensively in this Guardian article.
To round the whole thing off, McConnell shares a story that will be horribly familiar to many people — the nightmare of trying to fix his mom's printer.
Judging by the fact the video ends with him smashing up a printer with a sledgehammer, you can probably tell how that went.