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Epson embroiled in ink related Class Action again – this time in California

Issue #1115 – Litigators in North America are again having a go at extracting money from Epson on the grounds of alleged ‘wasted’ ink. Supposedly depriving the user of fully benefiting from their purchase, these are bizarre cases. It is my personal opinion that Epson is being unfairly victimised, probably for someone’s personal gain. Testing shows that it is not OEMs ink cartridges that are the worst offenders anyway – some third party brands are far, far worse.

Allow me to present some facts and figures from research, testing and the experience of CharisCo Printer Labs:

Fact

  • Some ink remains in almost ALL ink cartridges at the end of life …
  • Some toner remains in almost ALL toner cartridges at the end of life …
  • … regardless of brand (OEM or third party)
  • Some ink HAS to remain in some ink cartridges in order to protect the system and the print head and to SAVE the customer time and money
wasted inkWasted ink in ‘exhausted’ third party cartridge

Test results

  • One third party brand tested failed to deliver more than 62% of ink on average, wasting 38%, while one (black) cartridge delivered only 38% of its ink, thus wasting 62%! (yes, same numbers – just the other way around!)
  • Another brand proved so unreliable, in its ‘ink out’ notification and communication with the printer, that the print head was constantly running dry, requiring the ink system to be re-primed over and over again
  • Many third party cartridges (13 of 14 third party brands) leaked either before, during or after use – including two that leaked inside sealed packaging!) – all of which result in wasted ink, not only proving that ink remains in exhausted cartridges but also resulting in the user having to spend time (and probably money) clearing up a horrendous mess

Technology
It is a fact of life that some ink or toner is left behind in a cartridge at end of life. This is simply because:

  • in the case of toner, some toner sticks to the plastic sides of the cartridge and lodges in some of the corners and ends of rollers, blades, etc.
  • in the case of old-style toner cartridges, a good old shake would yield a couple of hundred extra pages. Now, with drop-dead cartridges, that doesn’t work so there is no longer any way of accessing the last dregs of toner
  • Cartridge foamInk in foam of exhausted
    OEM integrated cartridge
  • with ink systems, many integrated cartridges (head on cartridge) have foam in them to help feed the ink to the head. Try getting every last drop of water out of a bath sponge!! Impossible
  • other ink cartridges (with permanent or semi-permanent print head and individual ink tanks) are designed to protect the ink system and print head by preventing the head from being starved of ink. Starvation not only opens up the head to potential damage from overheating but also results in the system having to be re-primed every time it runs dry. This is intelligent use of technology, not a design fault.

Comments
From a user’s perspective, it is totally undesirable for an ink system to be allowed to run dry. Testing of one brand of third party ink resulted in so many cartridges being emptied by constant re-priming that a second batch of 5 cartridge sets had to be purchased just to complete the tests. Between 6 and 10 cartridges of each colour were used when only one or two cartridges of each colour from some other brands were required.

What cost to the user – not just in terms of needing to buy four times the number of cartridges against other brands but also in the time required, and frustration endured, to constantly re-prime the system?!!

Remember, when one individual (colour) cartridge runs dry, ink is used from at least two other cartridges during the priming process – all wasted ink and risking one or both of those other cartridges also running dry (requiring further re-priming!). Where an unreliable notification system is being used in the cartridge, this can result in a never-ending re-priming process.

Leaky third party ink cartridgeLeaky third party ink cartridge

Believe me – if the user is to gain ‘full benefit’ from their purchase, they want a tiny amount of ink to be left in the exhausted cartridge; they want the print head to be protected; they want the printer manufacturer to design the system for maximum endurance, efficiency, reliability and performance.

Users probably also want the OEM to spend its cash on the development of more advanced systems and protecting the user base against counterfeit inks and toners rather than being forced to waste money defending itself in pointless legal action. After all, at the end of the day, the user pays!!

To summarise, OEM printer manufacturers invest vast sums of money in the development of their printing systems. They know when a little ink needs to be left behind to protect the system and they are clever enough to be able to minimise that amount.

Also, they quote cartridge yield in terms of standard pages printed (modern cartridges quoted to ISO standards). The ink left inside the cartridge is additional to the amount required to deliver the promised number of pages and is taken into account during the initial yield testing. If it could be proved that the cartridges did not deliver the quoted number of pages – consistently and significantly – then there would be a case to answer.

By contrast, third parties (almost) never quote a number of pages. They quote millilitres of ink. This is a much more dangerous stance to adopt because it may be proved easily that the cartridge does NOT deliver the amount of ink quoted.

Please understand that this discussion is not intended to be anti-third party or pro-OEM. It is entirely pro-user! The use of third party examples is merely to illustrate the angst that is caused to the user by cartridges not performing as they were designed.

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