Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Invasion of the Killer Chips
A few years ago I wouldn't have dreamt that I could have such sophisticated hi-tech gear in my home. But here it is in front of me - a superlative piece of engineering, invaluable to me, and it only cost around forty quid.
And I hate it.
My Epson ink jet printer holds me to ransom. It cheats me. It lies to me. It extorts money from me for no good reason. It quite openly rips me off. I'm pretty sure it laughs at me.
It randomly tells me that I must buy new ink cartridges. Until I obey, it downs tools, and I cannot print anything.
It matters not that the all the ink cartridges still have plenty in them. The system is all-powerful. It won't even let me print only in black, having claimed the only ink deficit is magenta.
I blame the government. Back in 2004, they ruled that ink cartridges are 'consumables', not 'durables'. It was, of course, nonsense - there was absolutely no reason why a cartridge should not be refilled with ink, and used many times over. In fact that's what we used to do, in the good old days.
By defining them as consumables, the DTI put them outside the scope of the WEEE Directive. That in turn freed up the manufacturers to introduce design features (the 'killer chip') specifically to prevent cartridges from being reused. Result - a perfectly good cartridge (and whatever residual ink it contains) must be thrown away or sent for recycling, instead of simply being refilled.
Epson have come up with the ultimate in planned obsolescence. It's PC peripheral Gone Mad.
I'll have to console myself with the thought that it all helps economic growth.