Liz's advice on finance, credit, frugal living practices, & anything monetary is from the 'school of hard knocks,' research, & experience.
A Brand-New Printer
Today I am writing about an all-in-one Kodak printer purchased around July of 2012. We bought it because it would save desk space instead of using a printer, a fax machine, copier and scanner, and because it boasted the lowest-price replacement ink cartridges.
That was all well and good, and the price of the machine was also very reasonable, or so we thought.
Size Does Matter!
It is true: the ink cartridges do cost less than a third of the price of the ones for the previous printer I had, which was a space-hogging monster and had only two functions: copy and print. I could print out an entire copy of our catalog, which used both sides of the paper, and was, in all, a 78-page booklet.
The downside to that was, the ink/toner cartridge cost nearly $100, or about half as much as we paid for the entire machine! In the end, over about three years, we spent on toner over three times as much as the machine cost us to start with. That was not a cost-effective product.
This was a very small mom-and-pop business I had; we are now retired and on a fixed income. The "business" only supplied some pocket change. Coming up with the $100 for a replacement toner cartridge in a lump sum was becoming ever more difficult, as the economy caused us to lose several customers.
Unfortunately, we discovered the reason for the low cost of the toner for the new printer was only a matter of size. Sure, they are only a third of the cost: they are only a third (or less!) of the size and don't last any time at all!
The New Machine
The new printer is a Kodak ESP Office model 2150. It copies, prints, faxes and scans (although I have kept my two-years-older Canon scanner, as I prefer its software and the way it works with Photoshop).
The new printer is afflicted with a very user-unfriendly glitch in the actual design and programming of the machine. Namely, it won't print anything, not even black-and-white documents or copies if the colored ink cartridge is low or empty!
I had just put in a brand-new black ink cartridge, as I knew I had some estimates and invoices to print, and my daughter wanted to make a few copies she needed for something. I knew the color ink was low, but knowing I was only making black and white copies, I did not perceive a problem.
Wrong! I attempted to print the first document, and up came an error message telling me the color ink was low and to replace the cartridge. (Ok, duh! I knew that.) The problem arose when a further message stated, "Press 'cancel' to proceed with non-printing operations."
My problem arose because the message did not fit entirely within the one-inch square display screen, cutting off after the "non-". I mistakenly thought the message would continue with "(non-) color printing ...." I had misread it as if it said, "Press cancel to continue with printing operations."
(Yes, I do know what "assume" spells ... but I was in a hurry.)
I duly pressed the 'cancel' button, and what happened? Nothing at all. The document did not print, and I was dumped back into the home menu, from where I had to again select to print the document. Up came the same error message, with the same result upon following the instruction given. I was in an endless loop and turned off the machine in disgust.
Only later did I discover my mistake in reading the error message, but that did not make me any happier. I was still annoyed that the thing was demanding color ink to make black-and-white prints! That has never been an issue with any other color-capable printer I've owned.
Read More From Toughnickel
Customer ... Service??
My next move was to attempt to call customer service by looking on the Kodak website. Although there was no information on contacting corporate headquarters, lo and behold, there was a "live chat" option, which I selected. I was pleasantly surprised to be connected to a Customer Service Representative (CSR) within a few seconds. There, my pleasure ended.
I certainly expected to provide the model number of the machine. I did not expect to be asked to find an additional number from inside the machine, where I bought it, or from what country I was contacting them. After jumping through those hoops, I proceeded to describe my problem. It was an exercise in frustration.
The CSR assured me that he was "sorry for the inconvenience," and stated (repeatedly) that I should purchase a new color cartridge. I exasperatedly told him, more than once, that I needed to print in B&W, not color.
It turns out the machine is not designed to operate at all on a single cartridge, regardless of your printing needs.
The CSR was insistent that this was "because of advanced technology to insure highest quality printing." Oh? It is not the quality of the printing that is in question, it is the function of the machine, and the fact of the color ink being empty should have zero effect upon black-only printing.
This does not seem like an advance to me—it seems like a roadblock. I cannot afford to replace the color ink until after payday and told the tech exactly that. He only repeated that he was "sorry for the inconvenience." I quickly realized he was merely reading from a script.
I then inquired as to whether this fault had already been discovered and if that was the reason this model does not appear on their sales page. No response—the question was ignored.
They've Got Your Money: Now They Want You to Just Go Away!
My next comment to the CSR was to request that he forward/copy the chat to the CEO/engineers/designers. His reply? "I'm not allowed to transfer chats." Wow! (I informed him that it most certainly was going to be transferred, as I had copied/pasted it into a Word document for inclusion with my letter to the CEO.)
I got the message loud and clear: "We have the money you spent on our product—now don't bother us!" No wonder Kodak is in dire financial trouble. Customer service and excellent quality products are the main keys to successful businesses. I may be a very small business, but if I operated on the principles and examples set by the Mega-Corporations, I'd have been out of business a very long time ago!
Oh, and guess what? The tech I was "talking" to? Located in India! Are you surprised? I'm not, though I am disgusted. Corporations need to stop sending jobs offshore.
My next step? A stern letter, full of five-dollar words to indicate my opinion of their level of competence, integrity and intelligence, to the CEO, VP, and anyone else I can find at Kodak, to express my dissatisfaction with this design flaw and with their 'outsourcing' of customer service!
Oh, and that letter will contain a link to this very article!
Excerpts of Actual CSR "Chat:" Reading From a Script!
"Raghavendra R: Welcome to Kodak, my name is Raghavendra R. Please wait while I review your question.
Raghavendra R: If you have an incident reference number from a previous contact or from a My Support on-line session, please provide that to me.
Liz: No prior contact
Raghavendra R: Okay.
Raghavendra R: May I please have the Kodak Service Number for your printer? You can find this number by opening the printer access door like you are going to change the ink cartridges. This number will be located on the left hand side.
Raghavendra R: In what month and year was this printer purchased and where was this printer purchased?
Liz: Purchased this year--I don't have the receipt in front of me--but approximately 3 months ago...bought at Wal Mart
Raghavendra R: May I know the printer model number?
Liz: ESP Office 2150
Raghavendra R: May I know from which country you are contacting us from?
Raghavendra R: Thank you for providing all the information.
Raghavendra R: Please let me know do you see any error code.
Liz: The error message tells me that the color ink is low and needs replacing. (The black ink cartridge is NEW.)
Raghavendra R: Okay.
Liz: so I cannot even print a B&W copy or document
Raghavendra R: Your all-in-one printer is designed to stop printing before quality is compromised. The message lets you know the printer is out of color ink.
Raghavendra R: KODAK All-in-One Printers use an advanced, built-in print head system that is designed to provide excellent image and text quality, while eliminating the need to purchase new print heads every time you replace ink cartridges, and saving you money."
Persistence Is Futile...
(A little later on in this conversation)....
"Liz: I cannot afford a new color cartridge until after pay day, and in the meantime, I have BLACK INK documents that need to be printed.
Liz: and as I stated earlier, the BLACK INK is NEW
Raghavendra R: I do understand your concern but I am really sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.
Raghavendra R: The Kodak printer will not work with an single ink cartridge.
Raghavendra R: The Kodak printers are designed with an advanced technology, so the printer will not print with single ink cartridge.
Raghavendra R: So I request you to please replace the color ink cartridge and try to print a document or picture."
As this continued, the CSR repeated no less than six times, to replace the color cartridge, and ignored completely my questions about why there should be a need for color ink to print in black and white.
(It finally ended with)....
"Liz: I am NOT impressed...please pass this conversation along to the CEO's at Kodak!
Raghavendra R: I am really sorry, but I request you to please replace the color ink cartridge to get best quality printing.
Liz: yes, well, as I said, I have to wait for pay day, and that delays the job I need to do to service a customer, so again, please relay this conversation to the people in charge of desgin.
Raghavendra R: I am sorry I am not suppose to transfer the chat."
Contacting Kodak Corporation
Luckily, I'm good at research, and I do know how to find things both on the Internet and at the library.
Did you know you can always look up any corporation's head officers by typing in "whois.com" in the address bar? You'll then type in the search box the name of the outfit you seek. It will bring up the domain, and alternates, such as .net; .org, .us, etc., and indicate whether you can obtain the domain for yourself. At first, it looks like it is a site selling domains, but scroll down a bit, and the information you want for the corporation you typed in at the landing page is there.
Sometimes, the corporations are slippery and sneaky and don't give the actual names of the people for the domain ownership, tech manager, etc. ..such was the case with Kodak. However, there are other means to find out.
The real contact information for the folks at Kodak, that they don't want to tell you on their website, is here:
From the "whois" site:
Physical Address: Eastman Kodak
343 State Street Mail Stop 00706,
Rochester, NY 14650-0706
Administrator Phone:1-585-7244-000 (I would presume the 'zeroes' to mean no extension)
(A mail-drop location. Really??!! I thought they were supposed to have a physical address listed! There are no names of any personnel given.)
The End Result
After this frustrating exchange and the payday, I did replace the color ink and was able to print once again.
However, at this writing, the machine is out of ink again, and I am not bothering to refill it. Kodak has discontinued its printer division, and the ink is getting harder to find, (and costs more when you do find it).
I warn you, though; this product IS still listed for sale on Amazon (and possibly at other sites, and there may be old stock left in some stores). I do NOT recommend this machine at all. Its promises are disingenuous at best; outright false at worst.
After filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in January of 2012, the Kodak corporation downsized and shifted gears to emerge in 2017 as a leaner and potentially still profitable company.
After finding some compatible and affordable ink, I duly installed the cartridges into the foul machine.
It will print a test page just fine, but on sending something from the computer, it makes all the appropriate noises and then spits out a blank sheet of paper with nary a mark.
At this point, it has been put into the "e-waste" pile for disposal!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Liz Elias
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 16, 2017:
Wow, what an ordeal! I'll stick with my Canon. I've never had trouble with it and the ink is reasonably priced.
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 04, 2017:
LOL, Nell! I would have, but it would have done no good, as the flaw was in the design; it was built in to work (NOT work, rather) that way! :-(
I hope you have better luck with your new printer! Next time, I'll do my research before spending any money!
Nell Rose from England on January 04, 2017:
What a nightmare! if I can't get any results from so called customer service I just go to youtube and hope some nice person has made a film out of it! I have been given a brand new printer, just bought the ink and keeping my fingers crossed!
Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 02, 2017:
Hi, Blond Logic--sadly, that is true. In this case, the printer that we retired had not been cheap--it was a $250 machine!!
There are other products out there, that do the same sort of thing. I hate it. Corporate greed is what it is!
Thanks for stopping by!
Hello, Larry--LOL! Sounds like that was very cathartic for you! Funny, though, as the plain black and white laser jet printer that I still have is an HP, and it still works just fine. No color, no fax, no copy, but it prints. And, if it starts getting faint, I can remove the toner cartridge and shake it about for a bit, and get another 50 or so copies before I have to replace it.
I guess there are bad apples here and there in each brand. The thing that galled me, though, was that my problem resulted not from a manufacturing flaw, but one of design!
Thanks for sharing your story.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on January 01, 2017:
I've had a horrific printer in my life, too. It was an HP. When we finally got a new printer that actually worked, we took the offending printer out to the family farm.
Bashed it in with a bat. Then blew it up. Then stomped the rubble. It was a joyous occasion for my wife and I:-)
The logical part of my brain knows it's an inanimate object, but it felt good unleashing 5 years of frustration on it, lol.
Great consumer report.
Mary Wickison from USA on January 01, 2017:
I am sorry you had such a headache with this. Printers are sold with the Gillette business model. They sell them cheap because they know they will make their money on inks just like Gillette does on razors.
Glad you are printing again though. Let's hope your letter to the CEO helps.