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Dead Printers Society

My printer died Sunday night. Cause of death: Undetermined spontaneous occurrence. Time of death: approximately 5:30 pm Pacific Standard Time, December 19th. Age of decedent: Approximately three years old.

Does anyone have luck with printers? Because mine die every two to three years, right on schedule. One moment, they’re happily printing away and guzzling ink in prodigious amounts. The next, this:


See, the problem is that there IS a print head installed, the one that came with the printer, the one that up until the appearance of this show-stopping message did its job with little complaint. And before any of you Canon printer owners chime in with your “solutions,” yes, I removed and cleaned and reinstalled the print head, and, no, I never used a refilled or non-Canon ink cartridge, and, yes, I did all the hold-the-reset-button-down-and-press-the-power-button service mode things you’ll find in a Google search. The result is that the machine still doesn’t work, and won’t allow scanning or faxing, either. It’s stuck on failure. A new print head would cost more than a new printer. So, it’s time for a new printer, and it’s just my lucky timing that I need to procure the item five days before Christmas. UPS shouldn’t be too busy with deliveries this week.

I sometimes think it’s my bad luck that my wake is littered with the lifeless carcasses of printers past, but a simple search for practically any brand or model turns up countless people complaining about how their inkjet suddenly bought the farm not too long out of warranty. It just seems too close to planned obsolescence.

But if I have the reverse-Midas touch for printers, I also know it could be worse. Some people have the same luck with more expensive things — cell phones, laptops, cars. You can post your runs of bad tech luck in the comments. Maybe it’ll ease my frustration a little while I wait for the replacement printer to arrive.

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10 comments

  • It could be worse, you could have my luck with laptops – I’m on my fifth macbook in as many years, all but the first having met very tragic ends in my possession – split open casing, shattered screen, and most recently half a litre of tea straight to the logic board. That first one just went to my sister, where the battery wore down and the hard drive failed.
    So yeah, it could be worse. At least this way I get to upgrade every year?

  • Get yourself a laser printer. For a home environment, it means replacing a toner cartridge every year or two. That’s it.

    HP laserjets are well-loved, I’ve been very happy with Dell’s rebranded Lexmark printers too.

  • I have to agree with tedder. Unless you need crazy large format and/or color, get an HP LaserJet 4000 series (4050, 4100, etc.) from ebay or better, a local surplus place or school/college surplus. If you can get one with a duplexer and a jetdirect card, you’ll be happy. Forever. They just run and run. In a much older one (Apple branded, but same canon engine) a fuser went out, but it was easily (and cheaply) replaceable.

    LaserJet 4k plus a SnapScan works better for me than any multifunction I’ve ever used.

  • See, my issue was always with the computers. My computer crashes every August, without fail. And it’s not even the same computer. I’ve had at least four since this minor annoyance began. (And by “minor” I mean “major,” since this happened all through college as well.)

    So I understand.

  • I realized that my b/w to color print ratio was like 100:1, so I switched to a laser printer for my main printer – a Brother HL-2170w – cost me around $100 at the time and is networkable – both wired and wireless. I’ve had it for almost 4 years now and purchase maybe 1 cartridge a year. My color printer is a Canon Pixma iP-4200 that is about 5 or 6 and I buy a new set also about once a year now and have not had any problem with either. Before that, I was going through 1 a year myself.

  • We never print photos at home, and we take thousands of photos (or more). When we need prints, we send them to mpix or a similar service. There’s nothing sadder than a photo that is missing one of CMYK, except perhaps a framed home-printed photo over a year old that has dramatically faded.

  • I wish my printer would die. It’s evil, possessed by the devil. I know this. Sometimes it will just sit there and refuse to acknowledge my commands altogether or it will just decide to print whatever the hell it feels like; old documents, pictures I haven’t tried to print in ages or some alien language gibberish.

    Of course, it will probably never give me the excuse to buy a new one because it will never die. It’s going to live on forever to torment me. If I tried to get rid of it anyway, I have no doubt I’d succumb to a freak accident going down the stairs.

  • In case anyone’s keeping track, the replacement printer showed up via UPS today (thank you, NewEgg, for essentially overnight shipping for free — helps that they’re not too far from here, but, still, great service at a great price), and it’s installed and working and I expect no major problems with it for at least… oh, maybe two years, three at the most….

  • Got a Brother 2140 on sale for $60 a few years ago. Still going strong…and according to my stats printed page here: Over 5,000 pages printed on the starter toner cart alone. (Helps if you do the tape trick to prevent it from reading it as empty when it still has plenty of toner left.)

    At this point, there really is no reason to bother with an inkjet. If you need something nice done or photos printed, just get color prints done at Staples or Kinkos.