Printers Prompt For Ink Replacement Before Ink Is Out

An EPSON study found many printers will tell you it’s time to replace the ink cartridge before it’s actually empty.

Ink-jet lies [Spending Smart]


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  1. snazz says:

    there was a huge class action suit against epson for this reason. everyone who registered for it got like $50 epson credit or like $20 check.

  2. banned says:

    At least they admit they do it themselves. I’d almost rather it that way, then all of a sudden run out and not be able to go buy more that moment. Its just like the batteries in a remote. They work for about 2 weeks, then you have to shake them too for the next 6 months to get the juice from the batteries.

  3. beyond says:

    Doesn’t surprise me. What irks me is the printers that refuse to print in black and white if your color cartridge dries up.

  4. mrjimbo19 says:

    If you think this is bad just look at the waste ink diapers that printers have. Canons at one point had a tank where the ink from priming the heads would go into, epsons had something similar and HP and Lexmark did not have to have the tanks because they built the printheads into the ink tank

    GO GO manufacture propoganda! lol

  5. Yeah, you get prompted well before the printing actually suffers for a lack of ink. Not surprising except for the three HP ones that warn before you’ve even used 60%. Not cool at all.

  6. says:

    yes, they PROMPT you, before it’s empty, for advanced warning. they probably figure that people realize their ink isn’t actually empty, but the prompt will give that person enough time to buy more ink so their not mid-print on a final paper or something and the cartridge goes ka-put. it’s like your gas thingy…it will light up when you’re tank is low. if you’re like me, you keep printing things until the paper comes out white.

    but at least i had ample warning to buy more ink!

  7. RonDMC says:

    I would assume that common sense dictates you take mental notice of the warning and continue printing as normal until you see a quality difference. Then, swap them out assuming you have a spare on hand.

    I guess some people would be naive enough to throw it out at first sign of an electronic notice, though.

    “The computer says it’s empty, so it’s gotta go!” Because, you know, computers never have errors…

  8. hop says:

    you can get a gadget from a company,which i forgot the name, that will zap the epsom cartridge into letting you use it until it’s really empty….then, if you wish, you can refill the cartridge….

  9. starfoxmac says:

    This is why I just bought a network laser printer online. It was much less expensive than I’d expected, but even so, rather than think of the cost in dollars, I think of how short the paypack period will be (a.k.a. the break-even point) vs inkjet. I spent $60 on inkjet cartridges that ended up printing about 60 pages. Epson has a class action lawsuit against it for this junk. I will be glad not to be abused in the future when I buy toner.

  10. urban_ninjya says:

    There was a trick I saw on /. about this. There was something where if you put some tape over one of the terminals that is used to signal the date the cartrige is first used, you can get more usage out of the cartrige at a slightly degraded image quality.

  11. Panamapeter says:

    I have not bought a new ink tank in at least twelve years. Refill, refill, refill. Very easy very cheap, and it seems just as good a quality as new tanks. I get perfect photos.

  12. pestie says:

    We have a postage machine at the office that will insist that its ink cartridge be replaced after one year, no matter how much ink is in it. And it’s hideously expensive, too!

  13. bostonguy says:

    I bought a Dell laser printer over 2 years ago, for about $150, and the toner that came with it still hasn’t dropped below the halfway mark!

    I figure that I would have spent at least that much money on inkjet cartridges in that time, so it’s a good deal all around!

  14. AcidReign says:

        I suppose my HP 670-C is too old for such warnings. It does occasionally think I’ve installed a new ink cartridge when I haven’t, but I never get a warning when the black runs out. Usually, it happens when I print a ten page document, and I get 8 pages of fading-in-and-out letters.

        As to the business models being even worse, it won’t matter. Our Ricoh copier at work has had the “call for service” warning flashing on the screen for at least three months, and the tech support folks do not care! If it ain’t broke, we ain’t fixin’ it!

  15. Starfury says:

    I’ve got an HP 5550 ink jet and it warns when the cartridges are low. I’ll wait until it runs out and then get the cartridge refilled. I don’t print much at home; that’s what work printers are for.

    Especially the color laser ones.

  16. thefezman says:

    Pretty funny they don’t mention my printer in that study, which is an Epson multi-cartridge printer. Hmm… maybe they don’t want to look bad?

    Anyways, I just ignore those messages until I actually see proof that the ink is almost gone (banding, missing colors in the printout).

    If you do a lot of time-critical printing then you can always buy the cartridges and just let them sit until you actually need them, so you don’t have to run to the store in the middle of a big project.

    But ya, for the money, lasers are the real way to go. Although I am very happy with my Epson inkjet, my next printer will be laser.

  17. clarkehead says:

    I have an Epson Stylus Photo R800, which just ran the CYAN chamber dry. It wouldn’t let me print without it, no matter what I tried. So when it says a cartridge is 0%, you’re at a dead stop until you replace it. I can’t say I’m happy about how that works, but it is what it is.

    What kills me about it is what it costs to replace all of the toner cartridges for this printer – $132. That seems excessive, but I’ll keep my eyes on how far that gets me this time.

  18. captainbozo says:

    My Epson CX6600 all-in-one just ran out of black ink, and the whole thing goes into lock-down. It wouldn’t even let me scan anything until I replaced it. Not sure how an empty ink cartridge affects scanning, but whatever.

  19. endless says:


    tru dat.

    i spent around 180$ on a brother 5270. (i think its the 5270…)

    anyway, favorite printer ive ever owned. it has jammed a few times in its 2+ year life, but theyve always been very easy to get out. the text is crisp and it prints fast.

    havent had to change the toner despite having well over a thousand prints.

  20. WindowSeat says:

    My experience with Epson printers has been once the ink runs out it will never work again. Of course this is after spending $ on new ink cartridges.

  21. bbbici says:

    printer ink is the one of the most expensive substances (by weight and at retail price), believe it or not. more than truffles, caviar, or platinum.

  22. gafpromise says:

    We have a Canon photo printer and when the ink wells got low we bought a refill kit and refilled them. It was much cheaper and seems to be working fine. My only problem now is that my printer dialog still insists I have run out of ink and keeps giving me warnings. I can’t figure out how to reset it.

  23. veronykah says:

    Re Windowseat—SO true! As soon as I saw this I thought about my experience. I had a c86 from Epson for about a year, it printed fine. Then it was telling me cyan was out. I figured, ok just print in B&W,no dice. Won’t print.
    Then I bought the cyan. THEN it tells me the yellow is out. Replace yellow. Now magenta is out. Replace magenta.
    Finally I replace ALL the cartridges with new ones. Still won’t print. Tells me to clean the print heads. I clean and clean them to no avail.
    Start doing research online only to find out, this is typical of Epson printers. If they are not used for a period of time the ink dries in the tubes and NO amount of print head cleaning can fix it.
    Funny how NOWHERE on the Epson site does it mention this.
    After taking the printer apart to see if I could physically clean the tubes, I threw it away [after attempting to recycle it, but not feeling interesting in PAYING to do so..]I bought a Samsung ML-2010 LASER printer and have had ZERO problems with it.
    I am sorry I missed the class action suit against them, apparently I’m at a loss now?

  24. njtrout says:

    My Brother 3820CN automatically “cleans” the print head every day, even if the printer is turned off. There is no way of defeating this “feature”. I’ve read reports where a person let there printer sit for a couple of months unused but still the ink ran out. At $20+ per cartridge this really stinks. While were on it, Brother printers have a know problems with this printer and other issuing a “fatal error 41”. The print head goes bad. They know about the problem, but refuse to issue a recall or pay for repairs even if you are a day over the warranty. Had it fixed once, but the second time they expect me to pay for their (some say admitingly) bad design.


  25. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Ink-jet printers are one of the biggest scams going. It literally can cost as much to replace the ink cartridges as it does to replace the whole printer. I’m glad the auto industry isn’t like that. “Hey, I need a quart of oil.” “That’ll be $24,000 please!”

    Even with some kind of ridiculous markup, you can’t tell me that there’s $30 worth of ink in that little cartridge (even the ones that have the printhead built in).

    I finally got to the point where I just kept refilling the black cartridge with a refill kit and left it at that.

  26. Lacclolith says:

    @gafpromise: Same here. I have both a Pixma IP4300 and a Pixma IP3000 and I use the same trick for both. While the IP3000 doesn’t give me any problems, the IP4300 does, and I found out why. It’s apparently related to the chip on the bottom of the PGI5 and PGI8 cartridges that is pre-programmed. I think there’s some ingenious workaround for it, but it’s more trouble than I’m willing to go through to clear out a single warning dialog.

  27. Crazytree says:

    total fraud.

  28. sillybgoat says:

    I have an Epson R210, which comes up and says my ink is empty and will no longer let me print. I take the cartridge out and put in in the little $11 re-setter i bought and then it will print about 20% more. I guess they “forgot” to test their own printers hey.

  29. scodav says:

    I have a Pixma iP4200, about a year old. It sends the message that it needs a new cartridge when it’s still 1/3 full. But, all you need to do is press the ‘resume’ button and it will keep printing on the cartridge until it’s dry. I appreciate that.