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?"