Hewlett-Packard Company Informative - Throw-Away Peripherals
My wife pestered me for an inexpensive scanner/printer so she could archive old pictures and print out copies for family members. In the 80's, my old HP PC was virtually indestructible and I have six HP 1200 B&W printers (about $290 each) that have shown great reliability even with heavy office use.
In early August 2008, I bought her an HP 5250 for around $90. Not surprisingly, the ink cartridges were almost as expensive as the printer ($60). But, I knew most manufacturers of low-cost printers sell them a loss leaders and then make up their profits on supplies. Still, the item was for home use and would be, essentially, a throw-away item. I realized, and accepted the negative aspects of the purchase.
I did not realize I would be throwing it away so soon.
In mid-September, the photo paper feed began to malfunction. It would no longer autofeed the paper properly. Often, it would attempt to feed two pieces or none at all. She was slightly disappointed, but the printer/scanner still 'worked'. Besides, she printed only a few photos a month and the scanner seemed reliable.
In November and December, we began seeing 'previously owned' HP All-in-One printers stacked at Sam's Club. This was not a good sign. My wife commented that 'I must be lucky' because there was always a supply of these 'used' $50 printers on the 'bargain' 'as-is' table.
In late January, the letterhead feed began to make an 'odd noise'. The paper would feed, but it would sounded like a kid's bicycle with a playing card in the spokes. I checked the printer for her. There were no paper jams or slivers of torn paper. Tearing the printer down, only as far as the owner's guide recommended, revealed no obvious broken parts or foreign material.
"It will either live or die", I pronounced. "Keep using it and we'll see what happens."
I was planning a trip to Office Depot, so I checked my wife's HP supplies at the house. She had used about 25 sheets of the 4x6 photo paper, and her original ream of letterhead was down about 100 sheets (50 in the printer). I fired up her Mac and checked the ink levels using the HP maintenance utility. They were almost empty.
The printer was plugged into a live outlet at all times, so the ink should not evaporate that quickly. And, the printer had only seen light use. I deferred buying more ink, as she still had the sealed 'starter' cartridges. Given that the printer was acting up, I was not excited to buy more $60 ink.
Smart move. Last Thursday, she called me from home and told me 'the scanner died'. When I got home, I looked at it. The internal diagnostics reported 'scanner failure' and the scanner would not journey more than 1/2 way across the platen (glass copy plate). I called HP customer service.
'Brad', the HP CSR, spoke excellent North American English with a trace of South Asian accent. He helpfully told me, "This is a software problem. You will need to shut down your computer, re-boot, and restart the printer."
It didn't work.
"You need to uninstall the device driver and re-install it, then reboot, and retry."
It didn't work either.
"You now need to remove the operating system and re-format your hard drive."
"That isn't going to happen", I told Brad. The symptoms were consistent with a mechanical failure. "How do I return the device for warranty service."
"You must ship it to (gave address) prepaid (both ways) and insure the item. If the device is not covered by warranty, you may be charged for labor, parts, and diagnosis. If the problem is not with the printer, you may be charged a diagnostic fee (varies). And, you must ship it in the original box (I still had it.).
I boxed the item up and took it to the post office. Postage and insurance would be $22 each way. So, it would cost $44 and 'maybe' a diagnostic charge, and 'maybe' a repair charge...and CERTAINLY new ink cartridges for $60.
Potentially, well over the cost of a new printer/scanner.
I took the HP5250 home. I took it out of the box. I opened the sliding door onto the small balcony outside my study. I heaved the printer onto the concrete patio below.
It made a delightful crunch and exploded into 5,000,001 pieces.
The HP5250 is truly a 'throw-away' peripheral device. I never had so much fun throwing an item away. I highly recommend my method of disposal (always check the target area first).
But, I do not recommend the HP5250 unless the buyer realizes the device is truly a throw-away. It would be a shame for a kid to save up his/her money, for 'grandma' to buy one, or for a minimum-wage worker to spend $150 (a little over two days of work) to buy one of these devices; and then have it fail within a few months.