It used to be the joke that if you worked in IT, you somehow – perhaps magically – acquired the skills to fix printers. I for one have been asked to fix more than my fair share of printers over the years – and yet somewhere along the lines, all those requests dried up. Perhaps people finally understand that “people in IT” don’t have any idea about how to fix your printer – beyond reading through the manual and pressing a load of buttons, that is.
Recently though, I’ve wished that it was all a lie – that working in IT really does give you a special bond with hardware, and that merely gracing a problematic printer with a loving touch was enough to bring it back from the dead. For the last week, our printer – a Canon PIXMA MX870, for the record – has been spitting out error codes this way and that, most of which are useless. The most useful error message – and I use that term generously – was:
U052: The type of print head is incorrect. Install the correct print head.
Huh? I haven’t touched the print head, why is it suddenly incorrect? What’s more, until very recently, I didn’t even know what a print head was! The other super informative error message I received was:
5000: A printer error has occurred. Turn off power then back on again.
What?! That’s like the first thing you learn for troubleshooting in IT – try turning it off and back on again. Printer, I find your advice insulting!
Anyway – after a week of frustration, I called an authorised Canon service centre for support, where a lovely lady informed me that (sure enough) the print head probably needed to be replaced, and that I’d need to replace all of the ink cartridges with genuine ones, too. Here’s how that cost breakdown goes:
Cost of new print head: $120 Cost of new ink cartridges: $100 (approx) Labour cost: $ 80
Using my friend mathematics and some simple addition, I determined that I was looking at about $1,726 to repair the printer! It only cost $217 to buy new! Again, with the help of my friend mathematics, I came to the only logical conclusion: fixing the printer was totally not worth it! And hence, in retrospect, I believe that Canon should update the error codes in its troubleshooting guide to the following:
U052: Your printer is dead, throw it out and buy a new one. 5000: Your printer is dead, throw it out and buy a new one. Other: Your printer is dead, throw it out and buy a new one.
Using this newly reworded troubleshooting guide, I determined that the printer was dead, and that I should throw it out and buy a new one. This really irks me, because the old printer was only 18 months old, and we barely used the print function at all – we mainly used it for the scanner. And, even though its scanning unit is perfectly fine, since the print head has an error, the entire printer is unusable! How ridiculous!
Anyway – after far more research into printers than I ever thought would be required, we decided to go with the Epson WorkForce Pro 4530. It has all the features that we wanted – namely an ADF (auto document feeder) duplex scanner, plus the ability to do duplex printing automatically. And, the running costs (as reported by independent testers) are impressively low, which is a good thing given that printer ink is more expensive to buy than human blood.
Here’s hoping that our new printing/scanning/photocopying/faxing/latte-making friend will have a long and happy life on top of the filing cabinet in our office! (OK, it doesn’t really make lattes, but is anyone still reading?)