10.15.2010

Suck it Lexmark.

So here's the deal. I own a Lexmark X5650 multifunction printer. I originally purchased it because I needed to receive faxes every morning from my job. Now I don't use the fax anymore, but I still use the printing function quite a bit. I print out a lot of postal labels for eBay. This uses a lot of black ink. And never in my computing life have I been witness to a bigger scam. For the remainder of this blog, I shall refer to it as the "Lexmark Printer Cartridge Scam", or LPCS™ for short. Nah, actually I take that back, I'll probably refer to it that way for the remainder of my life.

Here's how the LPCS™ works: You purchase a Lexmark printer for super cheap at Wal-Mart. So cheap in fact, that you leave the store feeling like you just scammed the corporate machine. But what you didn't realize was that it is you, my poor idiot, who has been scammed. You get the printer home, hook it up, and start printing. What you soon realize is that the printer cartridges are being used up at the rate of 35 sheets per cartridge. Which using a little math, my wife's area I know, but I'll give it another go, is a FUCKING DOLLAR PER SHEET. I could hand write everything, then drive to the library and photocopy it and still come out ahead.

Here's where the LPCS™ really shines as a brilliant scam. The printer hardware, as well as the driver software on the computer DO NOT ALLOW you to use the cartridge once it determines it's "empty". It refuses to print and gives you a link to the Lexmark website to purchase another cartridge. This feature really comes in handy when you need to print a time sensitive boarding pass for your flight the next day, or you're late for a job interview and need to print a résumé. Sorry, you can't print, but here's a link to our website, you'll get your replacement cartridge in 4-6 days and we'll hit you with shipping charges. You missed your flight and didn't get the job, but hey you'll always have quality printouts.

Now I've NEVER seen a printer that didn't allow you to print after the cartridge is empty. Usually they'll warn you that it's low, then eventually empty, but you can still get another 20 pages out of it before the colors start banding. Another brilliant part of the scam is that you can't refill the cartridges either. There's no way to reset the ink level. Once it's empty, the printer ALWAYS registers that cartridge as "empty" even if refilled.

Never fear, this blog has a happy ending. I'm a problem solver, and a bit of a scam artist myself. Nowhere near the caliber of Lexmark, but I get by. Enter the ultimate defense against LPCS™:


Yep, ordinary tape.  It doesn't have to be Scotch, or satin, or gift wrap.  Just some damn tape, this isn't a commercial!  So you tear off a strip and place it here:


If it's hard to see, you can click to enlarge, but I've placed the strip so it covers the five vertical dots on the edge of my black ink cartridge. Now, the printer can no longer read the ink level in the cartridge. I'm able to print again! When I do, the black ink level now looks like this: (note the question mark)


So there you have it.  By doing this I'm cutting my ink cost in half.  Yep, that's DOUBLE the amount of pages out of the ink cartridge.  Now that you know the dangers of LPCS™, I hope you'll act responsibly when buying your next printer.  It's quite simple, just don't buy a Lexmark.  Walk right on by to the other brands. Additionally you can knock all the existing Lexmark printers off the shelf and kick them down the aisle till they break to protect your fellow consumer.  Although I don't know how that would fly with the Wal-Mart night manager. 

So why am I wasting my life with such minutiae?  Hey, what you call waste of life, I call saving money.  Who are you to judge me anyway, dick? It's my hope that the keywords "Lexmark" "printer" "X5650" and "reset ink level" will be picked up by Google and distributed to all the other poor bastards who have also been scammed by Lexmark.  If successful I'll save a lot of people a lot of money.  Or be forced to remove this blog by a Lexmark court order.  Either way, it's nice to be noticed.

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