Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Printers and Another Rant

I came so close to buying the absolute wrong printer for my needs today.  (Cue violins)

Wait, let me back up.  My trusty (Hah!) HP Photosmart Plus printer died an unnatural death earlier this week, just months after the 1-year warranty expired.  I had a hard time forcing myself to do all the research all over again, to find the best printer (for a decent price) on the market for printing on fabric.

I really wanted to try one of the new Kodak printers, and sent out cries for help on the internet for those who might have used it for printing on fabric ... to no avail.  To be honest, I didn't try really too hard, just hoped someone might have already made all the mistakes before I did.

"Luckily", I ran into the Kodak sales rep at an Office Max, and he was such a terrific salesman that I very nearly bought the thing on the spot.  However, I had promised myself that I would do my "due diligence" and try out everything possible first.
Snake oil salesman
But, oh boy, it sounded so great ... cheaper (pigment-based) ink cartridges, interchangeable among all Kodak printers, cool new features, it was even cute, and had a relatively small footprint.  And Kodak is famous for printing PICTURES!  Plus, they were going to give me a cool little $99 video camera as a bonus, THIS WEEK ONLY! How could I go wrong?  OHHH, I wanted that little baby!  (The very smart salesman "didn't know" how it would work on fabric, "but it must be good, because we're famous for printing pictures!")
Kodak 3250
Then, on top of that, the salesman slipped me an ad for a $50 credit at Best Buy this week, if I traded in any other old printer, broken or not, for any Kodak printer.  Hot Diggity!  Combined with a $25 gift certificate generously donated by my brother, this little dude would only cost me about $25!

But still, determined to do my research ... I came home and looked for customer reviews ... which were mostly bad.  Among other issues, "fantastic prints on photo paper, crappy prints on plain paper".  This did not bode well for printing on fabric.

So today, armed with my stack of beloved-but-costly Printed Treasures and Jacquard Silk Sheets, I trekked down to the nearest Best Buy and tried out a lot of pigment-based-ink printers, including the Kodak.
On both floor models of the Kodak (operated by the Best Buy techie), the sheets jammed without exception, and what partial images I could make out were absolutely awful.  The Kodak printer prints beautifully on photo paper, but not even marginally well on fabric.
Oh, and I discovered that although yes, the Kodak ink cartridges are less expensive that Epson's and HP's ... they are also much smaller and contain less ink.  So any perceived savings is probably just that ... perceived.  It's one of those things that's hard to quantify, especially since ALL the manufacturers are so cagey, not to say secretive, about revealing exactly how much ink their cartridges contain.
I finally ended up with another HP Photosmart Plus, since it even uses the same inks as my dearly departed printer.
HP Photosmart Plus
And as long as I'm sort of ranting about manufacturers and big-box stores, not a single printer had a brochure available for the customer.  They "must be all out of them."  And I had to practically demand that the techie-kid break open some new ink cartridges so that I could test the HP printers.  Not a single one of the "demo" printers had enough ink in them to print a single picture.  When I asked "what is the customer supposed to do, just buy it on faith?", the kid just shrugged.  I had to threaten to go to a manager before he would take the trouble to ask for permission to do it.  (Evidently, the marketing reps for each manufacturer are supposed to come by occasionally and replenish the inks in their printers.  The kid said that the HP guy hadn't been there this week, so I was just out of luck.)  As the kid was opening all those little ink cartridge boxes, he even took the trouble to admonish me that these inks were "very expensive", and that the store would have to swallow the cost.  I just stared at him, open-mouthed.  I couldn't even think of a snappy comeback.
I'm just getting really, really tired of having to demand simple customer service.  The kid who "helped" me was more interested in playing on his iPhone than he was in assisting me.  Not to mention, I had to track him down and drag him away from his computer in the first place.  I swear to goodness, I'm nice most of the time!  Why do these people seem to be on a mission to force me to be a crabby old lady?
To quote Paul Lynde in a Bye Bye Birdie song, "What's the matter with kids today?"  Modified to add, "What's the matter with Business today?"


  1. Big shockeroo. I always know more about a product I'm looking for than the idiots who work in the store. All you need is half a brain and ten minutes of research and you're an expert, compared to anybody who works in one of those stores.

    What's the matter with businesses today?
    They are not owned by people -- they are owned by corporations. Period. End of story.
    Can it get any worse?

  2. You go girl! Demand all you want and maybe they'll get a clue what service really means.

  3. I have had so many ink jet printers go down - I think I would create a test page that uses a little of each color (More than that nozzle test) and print it every day. As soon as I leave my printer for a while (week) without printing, the nozzles clog and it's never the same after that no matter how many times I clean the nozzles. (wasting the expensive ink) I have a 6 month old Epson 610 and I have not tried printing fabric but already several nozzles are clogged and seemingly uncleanable.
    This has been the fate of at least 3 printers at my house and a gigantic one at my office.

  4. Your experience sounds like par for the course. Unless you look like you are in high school, the techie kids all figure you haven't a clue what you are doing so they don't care. Complaints to managers and home offices do little good either. Good on you that you took the time to do tests in the store. More of us should do that.

  5. I recently wanted to buy a new keyboard (wireless perhaps) or one of the ergo shapes. I isolated a couple of models I wanted to look at. When I got to Office Depot, they had a keyboard labelled with the model I was interested in, but it was not what it was labelled. I tried to get them to open a box so I could see one. No interest at all in selling a keyboard, I guess.

    Went to another OD store, tried out the model on display and bought it there.

    I don't understand absolutely no interest in giving service. To my way of thinking, it must make a job very boring to just standing around playing dumb all day!

  6. Sad that the consumer is so inconsequential in the whole buying process.
    FYI I just bought a new Epson Worforce with pigment inks which prints fabric sheets just beautifully!

  7. I LOVE that you took fabric sheets to the store to test print! Brilliant!!!

  8. I too love that you took test sheets to the store to print and made the guy put in a new ink cartridge. I didnt know they were suppose to keep them full....See you get so use to crappy kind of gal! I will take you printer shopping with me next time.

  9. I too love that you took test sheets to the store to print and made the guy put in a new ink cartridge. I didnt know they were suppose to keep them full....See you get so use to crappy kind of gal! I will take you printer shopping with me next time.

  10. Awesome job! A wise consumer has to check things out on their own and not be swayed by all the hype and high pressure selling techniques. I will remember how you did this when I have to go shopping for a new printer.

  11. Linda, It seems that most of the people waiting on us and working for these stores are our children's age or younger. If you think about it this is the type of service they have grown up with. We on the other hand are use to service and the customer is always right.

    IMHO it will only get worse. Enjoyed the post.

  12. Thanks, y'all for your Comments. Nice to know I'm not alone! (I was wishing for one of those wide-format printers, but they evidently don't come as all-in-ones.)

  13. Good for you, Linda, on all counts!! I am also of the school that basically asserts "Oh, yes, you *will* give me decent customer service!", though I always feel like such a noodge. Why, oh, why should I put on my bossy girl cap just to have questions answered & get some help? Bleh.
    Anyway, it sounds like Lost Aussie may have your answer. Yay!!

  14. Am I shocked that you reached this kind of customer service at Best! I will never step foot in that store again after my last ordeal with their "tech" and Geek Squad morons.

    All was well until they decide to turn the place over to the Geek Squad. I purchased 4 desktop and a laptop there. Great customer service and when repairs service was was quick and not costly.

    The backlight died in my laptop and after fighting with Dell for over a year (the laptop was only a 6 months old when it died)they still refused to replace it. I might have used it 5 times. I was hospitalized for 4 months and it unused. So by the time I got home it was over a year old but virtual unused. Still I was at fault. I was told to purchase a backlight online..cost $11 for 2. Take it to Geek Squad and they would install at the cost of $195. For unscrewing for screwing, tilting the screen forward unsnapping the dead light and snapping the new one in. So it was that or trash the laptop. I went to Best Buy with backlight and laptop, after being told by Geek Squad manager to do this. Got there and he looks at me and states, "oh, we don't do that kind of work here. We will have to send it out and there a charge of $125 in addition to the repair cost. Needless to say I was not very ladylike. I left with backlight and laptop.

    Came home and wrote Best Buy a email and it was not very pleasant then contact the Better Business Bureau. I told then years ago business survived by word of mouth one unhappy customer might tell one person but not anymore one unhappy customer gets on there cell phone, their MySpace, the Facebook, they Tweet and blog it and now 150,000 people know that they got treated like shit at Best Buy. I said and that is exactly what I am going to do...after 45 years of retail business I know how to treat a customer and keep them coming back in my store. Business's don't care anymore.

    Not a hour later a got a very concerned letter back with an apology, that a representative from the corporate office with be at the store in the morning and those two employees would no longer have a job. I could expect a phone call from the manger of the store and Geek Squad. And if I emailed him back my address he would put a gift card in the mail for my trouble.

    A few days latter I got a lovely letter and $200 gift card. Oh and the phone calls.

    I don't understand companies hiring people and not making sure they don't educate them on the product there are representing. Shakes head.

  15. I have got some new ideas by reading this post. Very informative to me. Thanks buddy to write a valuable article to me.

  16. “My trusty… printer died an unnatural death earlier this week, just months after the 1-year warranty expired.”— Ouch! That’s soo darn frustrating! Anyway, finding a printer that can go well with the fabric can be difficult. But I guess you should have at least tried to have your old printer repaired first, to see if it can still work for you.



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