Epson Programs End of Life for Some Printers, Citing Danger of “Ink Spills”

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Image: CreaPark (Pixabay)

It can be hard being an Epson printer owner.

Per a recent report from Fight to Repair, a website offering “weekly dispatches from the front lines of the global fight for the right to repair” by and The Security Ledger’s Paul Roberts, Epson has hard coded an “end of life” feature into some of its printers so they stop working even if they’re still functional. The excuse that Epson is using is said to relate to ink pads, “porous pads in the printer that collect, distribute, and very importantly contain the ink that is not used on printed pages.” Such pads wear out over time, although Epson has also said that this generally doesn’t happen “before the printer is replaced for other reasons.”

Epson printer owners who run into this error have little choice but to buy a new printer or send their units to an authorized service professional, it seems, as the only other immediate option appears to be a very limited utility provided by the company.

The Maintenance Reset Utility can only be used once and will allow printing for a short period of time. You may download the Maintenance Reset Utility when you receive the following message on your PC: A part inside your printer is at the end of its service life. Click the link below for details. Click on the link and complete the required information to download the utility.

Various videos on YouTube also suggest that owners might be able to circumvent the issue by attempting to self-service their saturated ink pads, although there’s no official support from Epson to help with this process.

Aaron Perzanowski, a professor at University of Michigan School of Law and author of the book Right to Repair, seems to think that what Epson is doing might be illegal, noting that the “practice is not disclosed in a prominent way before the purchase of these printers,” but others are less sure.

Zittrain of Harvard said “more and better notice” about the end of life would be a “good idea,” but balked at declaring the hard coded expiration illegal. “Perhaps it depends on how much we take the company at its word that this is a rare rather than common condition, encountered only with truly above-and-beyond use of the printer before it’s cycled out anyway.”

Regardless, it would benefit consumers to “get these practices more clearly regularized, even in cases where — as it appears here — there isn’t some kind of planned obsolescence in mind,” he wrote.

Roberts, and other disgruntled owners of affected Epson printers, are hoping that the Federal Trade Commission will get involved, possibly citing it as a possible violation of Federal law.

Source: Fight to Repair

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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