One of the fun things about Twitter is that it’s a great forum for going on rants, to see if anybody else agrees with you. Such was the case this past Friday, when I saw that my printer had run out of ink. I’ve had my printer, an HP Photosmart, for a little while now but I use it sparingly – basically to print out things like plane and hotel reservations, just about never for photos – so this was only the second time I had run out of ink (black, to be exact).
I remember running out the first time very well because I was introduced to the shock that inevitably follows – the ridiculous cost of new ink cartridges. While a decent printer can be had for around $100, refilling that bad boy will generally cost you half as much. You can in fact buy a new printer that is loaded up with ink for less than it costs to get new cartridges. In my books, that’s a pretty hardcore example of highway robbery.
I took my outrage to Twitter and found a good many people agreed with me. A number of people furthered the topic, with Gwen McGuire pointing to an article that explained why ink is so expensive, while Alex Blonski pointed to an amazing chart that shows ink to be more pricey than human blood.
Another great thing about Twitter is that because it is a public forum, eventually if there’s enough bitching about something, it will get noticed by the people involved with said topic. The lovely folks at HP saw my discontent and sent me a link to the following video, which explains why the ink is costly:
After watching the video and reading the above interview that rationalized everything, I couldn’t help but be smarmy in my reply back to HP. I can’t imagine anyone is impressed by all the numbers thrown into that explanation, or by the really weak argument that a lot of technology goes into the ink. The truth is, if there’s one thing I learned while writing Sex, Bombs and Burgers, it’s that a whole lot of technology goes into producing just about everything – including the humble apple – so the rationalization borders on the absurd.
Fortunately, printing is a bit of a dying necessity. I’m heading off to Thailand at the end of the week for a vacation and I may try to make this my very first all-digital trip – no plane or hotel reservation printouts, they’ll all be on my smartphone. I suspect many people are doing the same, which is all the more reason for HP, Canon and the others to start dropping the prices on those ink cartridges.