Printer Ink worth more than Human Blood

Posted on 2010-May-25 in thoughts

HP has apparently started a new PR campaign trying to justify the insanely high prices for the ink they sell along their printers. I have not seen the PR yet but judging from the absolute tsunami of rage that has erupted in blogs today, it seems like a pretty bad move from HP.

Check out this discussion on slashdot:

HP explains why printer ink is so expensive

And this enlightening blog post:

Obviously HP thinks we are stupid

Everybody knows the story about printers and ink: give away the razor, sell the blades. As people are bound to buy new blades at regular intervals, the little money lost on the razor itself is re-couped a million times on expendables.

I have such a color printer at home: the HP kind, including a (bad) scanner and a fax function I will never use. I fell in for the cheap price -- the thing cost less than 50 euros in a sale -- and immediately regretted it. I could only print a mere 50 pages before I had to buy new ink for 25 euros, i.e. a printer is worth two ink cartridges. And when you put in a new cartridge, the printer automatically goes printing a calibration page that you are asked to scan to calibrate the scanner. When this happened I went crazy, started running around the house yelling after HP for getting me with such a cheap trick.

Ok, I have been screwed, I admit it.

But now HP going to their customers and trying to explain at length how they screw them is maybe a little too much.


Other examples of crappy marketing taking over product quality?

iPhones are worthless

Apple sells iPhones according to their mass storage capacity. A 32GB model costs twice as much as a 16GB model, but the only part that changes between both is a memory chip. Mathematically, if P is the price of the phone without any memory and M the price of a 16GB chip, we have:

2(P+M) = P+2M

If you work out the math you end up with


i.e. an iPhone is worthless.

SMS are a rip-off

SMS prices: anything above zero is just greed from Mobile Operators. If you deploy a GSM network you have SMS capabilities built-in because they are part of the very network itself, they travel on the signalling network. Charging your users for SMS exchanges is like charging customers for the rental of all chairs and table in your restaurant.

BoingBoing published a post in 2008 explaining that SMS data rate is 4 times more expensive than Hubble data.

Diesel-powered window motors

My car came with a number of options. One I did not take (200-300 euros worth) was an automatic window, i.e. you just press the button once and the window slides all the way to the bottom or the top (short-press again to stop the movement). The version I took only has this feature on the driver seat: for all other windows you need to maintain your finger on the button to move the window all the way up or down. Obviously this has nothing to do with hardware to install or configure, this is just a feature they disabled in the software handling window movements. But wait, there's more: they disabled a little too much and if you want to move any window but the driver's, the car engine has to be running. Yes: Renault invented the first diesel-powered window motors. This annoys me to no end.

I was told this kind of thing is called negative marketing. You degrade your product on purpose to attract customers to buy the "extra" features that have always been here but hidden on purpose. Now this is beyond me. The only message I get from that is: "we will screw you no matter what, stop fighting", nothing to do with product quality.

Curiously, this does not seem to jeopardize industrials who still think it is cool to milk their customers. The message I get from HP here is that they are only after the money and could not care less about their users. We are milk cows to these guys.