Freebie marketing is also referred to as “the Gillette model”.
King C. Gillette invented the safety razor (“safety” because it left you bloody but unbowed), then gave the handle away for free, but charged for the patent blades — and made a fortune.
Proctor & Gamble (who now own the Gillette name) pursue the same method to the present day.
This came to Malcolm’s butterfly mind when his copy of MacFormat arrived, and included a review of six “budget-priced” (i.e. bottom-end) printers. Consider:
- Canon PIXMA iP2600, quoted price £35, cost of set of ink cartridges £22
- Epson Sylus S21, quoted price £50, cost of set of ink cartridges £21.50
- HP Deskjet D1560, quoted price £30, cost of set of ink cartridges £22
- HP Photosmart D5460, quoted price £78, cost of set of ink cartridges £29
- Lexmark Z320, quoted price £40, cost of set of ink cartridges £35
- Lexmark Z2490, quoted price £35, cost of set of ink cartridges £49.
There’s nothing there that any printer owner does not recognise. It does not apply only to ink-jets. Those low-priced laser printers are sold on the same principle: Amazon will happily sell you a Samsung mono laser printer for £50.78: the replacement toner cartridge is priced, again on Amazon, at £42.45 (or, alternatively, £55.95 — the difference is less than immediately clear).
In any event, your first trip in search of replacement cartridges is going to be quite soon: those originally-supplied are generally underfilled.
Nik Rawlinson, writing his editorial for the recent MacUser, is aggrieved by a similar gripe:
How would you feel about your tumble drier if it went on strike because you refused to use a particular powder in your washing machine? Or if your freezer spontaneously defrosted because you had drunk all the milk in your fridge? What about your car refusing to start because you’ve never bought (and never intend to buy) a caravan? It would be pretty outrageous, wouldn’t it.
But what about your scanner? Would it be reasonable if your scanner manufacturer put it out of action because you’ve run out of ink in your printer? Not really, but it happens.
That cri-de-coeur is inspired by his all-in-one, in need of a cartridge, blanking him in his need to scan. That’s blackmail (or possibly cyan-mail or magenta-mail …). It’s simply not fair and it’s not funny.
- We are working towards an industry-standard for deciding the battery life of laptops.
- We have, finally and with a bit of EU arm-twisting, got a standard for the connectors on mobile phone chargers.
- Cars come with agreed fuel-economy figures.
- We have energy-efficiency standards for domestic appliances and even the houses in which we live.
Is it too much to ask for printers to come with a reasonable estimate of running costs?