Free Printers and Pricey Ink Cartridges
When I started working on this book, I bought a new desktop from Dell Computers. As I completed the phone order with the Dell representative, he told me, “And, we have a special promotion underway this week. With your computer we can send you a printer free of charge, and with free shipping.” Why not? How could I say no? I had no reason to ask about the quality of the printer, but I had no reason to assume that it was a high-quality printer either. I was not surprised when the printer arrived that it was more or less minimal on all quality counts. It was about the size of an oversized loaf of bread but did have surprising speed and print quality for being what must have been Dell’s bottom-of-the-line printer. But then, why would I care? It was free. After about a hundred pages of printing, the black ink cartridge (about the size of a small bottle of aspirin) went dry. When I checked on a replacement cartridge from Dell, my free printer all of a sudden became pricey; the cost of the cartridge was $74.95! Most readers have probably had much the same experience on buying a new printer for little or nothing, only to learn later that replacement cartridges cost as much or more than the printer. According to one technology analyst, when an ink jet cartridge costs only $30 and holds about an ounce of ink, a gallon of ink costs $3,840, or over 1,200 times the cost of a gallon of gasoline in Southern California (at this writing).
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