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Bricked Epson Printers Make a Strong Case for User Repairability

Bricked Epson Printers Make a Strong Case for User Repairability

Epson received some scrutiny on Twitter in recent weeks after the company disabled a printer that was otherwise working fine, leading to allegations of planned obsolescence. Epson knows that its printers will stop working without simple maintenance at a predictable point in the future, and it knows that it won't be cost-effective for many owners to send their home printers in for service. So why not make them user serviceable in the first place?

@marktavern's provocative post mentions that his wife was unable to use her "very expensive Epson printer" after the error message appeared at the end of the service.

It's nothing new for Epson printers, sadly. Reports going back several years refer to an infamous error message that read "Parts inside the printer have reached the end of their service life." Epson confirmed to The Verge that the error was related to the printer's ink pads, which had probably become saturated through extended use and were now at risk of spreading to the rest of the printer system.

In a recently updated support document, Epson provides several solutions to fix the problem. These include sending the printer to Epson to replace the ink pad, or having a local certified technician do so. Previously (via the Wayback Machine), just before the issue became infamous, Epson acknowledged that "repairs may not be a good investment for low-cost printers because other components of the printer are also at the end of their usable life." can be close." It then added that "Most consumers who are out of warranty choose to replace a low-cost printer when they receive an end of life service message." Now, Epson suggests a good alternative to sending the bricked unit for recycling.

Epson offers customers in North America a one-time free Maintenance Reset feature that lets you temporarily ignore the error message "for a limited time to meet your current print running needs." But it is restricted to Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP users, with no official offering for Windows 11 or Mac. You can at least buy additional reset keys from reputable third-party websites that usually charge you $9.99 for the service - not that Epson would be happy to do so.

After encountering this error, troubled users found other ways to keep the printer running, such as manually replacing or cleaning the ink pads themselves. The company's ink pads seem to vary slightly by model, but there are plenty of video tutorials available documenting the process. Frankly, all of these seem simple enough to do but none are officially supported by Epson.

For its part, Epson says that ink pad problems are rarely encountered by most customers and only for heavily used printers, printers used for many years, or those used in commercial environments. Affects consumer printers. "Most print users will never receive this message under intended use scenarios," said Merritt Woodward, a representative for the printer company. "This is directly dependent on the printer model, frequency, usage conditions, and type of printing over time."

The company also argues that there is a security issue to consider. "The printer is designed to stop working to the point where further use without replacing the ink pad could pose a risk of property damage from ink spills or safety issues related to excess ink from an electrical component Could," reads the Epson support page. This seems reasonable because Epson does not wish to be held responsible for property damage. But it is also accepted that hardware has a known expiration date that can be avoided by maintenance.

This Ink Pad scenario is a prime example of why so many consumers are fighting for the right to repair their own hardware. Epson's supported solutions require you to pay for the printer's service or replace it entirely, taking money out of your pocket and keeping it to yourself despite the existence of effective DIY solutions. Instead, Epson should design the ink pads to be user-serviceable and sell kits to consumers to clean or replace them. But Epson has nothing to lose and everything to gain by continuing the status quo, and it's a bad deal for its customers as well as the environment. (Even recycling schemes are rarely 100 percent efficient.)

Epson is hardly the only printer maker to come under scrutiny for anti-consumer practices, with HP returning the news in April 2022 for remotely disabling printers for customers who canceled their Instant Ink subscriptions. was given. Canon also fell victim to its own business strategy earlier this year when chip shortages resulted in Canon printers selling their own branded ones.

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