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I suppose I shouldn't complain too much about what currently angers me, given that I got the product in question, but I'm still going to complain anyways.

A few years ago, my dad got a couple of printers included with a computer or two that he ordered.  I think it was just as cheap to include the printer as it was to not, so he figured, get the printers.

When the printer I had been using stopped working, he offered up one of the printers that had been sitting around, and I gladly accepted.

It was a nice enough printer with probably a lot more capability than I really need, which could be part of the ‘issue'.  It is designed to be able to print photos.

Which is great, but I pretty much just need it for a regular old printer.

After awhile, the ink started running low, and at my dad's recommendation, I used a place online that sells compatible ink at a pretty good price.  They actually sell it in a bundle where you get four black cartridges and two each of the color cartridges, with the idea being that you use black ink more than the colored ink.

The first pass went exactly as planned.  I replaced the black cartridge, then a few months later replaced all of the cartridges.

I noticed that the printer was reporting ink levels about halfway on all the color cartridges after just a few weeks (and I don't do much printing.  At all.) so I switched everything to black and white only.

Yet, strangely the levels went down.

This was right around the time that I read somewhere that many ink cartridges these days are programmed (as they all have microchips) to basically expire, showing low or no ink after a set amount of time, regardless of whether or not there was actual ink inside.

Over time, no color printing took place, but the levels kept going down and down.  How strange.

This was when I first started to smell something really fishy.  After all, how could the levels continue to fall if everything was set to use black ink only?

Well, then it got worse.

I participate in a program where we get to print coupons based on our recycling activities.  There's a local nursery that we use that participates, and we were all set to go print out a $10 coupon.  When it wouldn't print at all.

I looked at the top of the printer and it was reporting the ink was out….

In every freaking color cartridge in the machine!

How odd that they ALL went out at once, wouldn't you say?

The FAQ provides this answer:

A color ink cartridge is expended even though I print in black only. Why does this happen?
To keep the print head clear and ready to print, the printer uses a small amount of ink from all the cartridges whenever it prints. Even if you select Black ink Only, some color ink is still being used.

I think that's bull.  A small amount is used, but it shouldn't be enough to deplete a whole cartridge.

But, I wondered, why couldn't I print black and white when the black cartridge was over half full of ink?

Can the printer still print if an ink cartridge is expended or not installed?
No. The printer will not operate if any cartridge is expended or removed. It’s best to always have extra cartridges on hand.

This is when I about flipped my lid.

This printer renders itself useless and inoperable when there is a workaround available?

What a waste.

Maybe I shouldn't be upset since it was a free printer and it has lasted me a few years, but you know what, I am upset.

It does annoy me that they design this in such a way that you are forced to buy a whole slew of cartridges (which I still don't believe are truly expended) even if you never plan on using 83% of them.

I've read that there is a hack that will allow you to send a command to the printer that will, in essence, reset the cartridge, then making it believe that it is new.  Still, I have a light version of the driver which won't work, so in order to try that I have to re-install the entire driver set (which forces you to install a very intrusive monitor).  And there's no guarantee it will work.

The folks at Epson probably wouldn't care since this was basically a ‘freebie', but it will still make me better to say that I will never buy nor will I recommend an Epson printer (or any other Epson device) ever in my entire life.

Have you ever gotten frustrated by the ink jet printer racket?  Any brands you won't use?