Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of… Printers?

Two weeks ago, the oldest laser printer in the school, a 12-year-old Color LaserJet 4500, finally packed up with loud grinding noises. Its final death throes included constant jams from tray 2, tray 1 feeding up to 50 sheets of paper at a time, and the drum drawer being completely jammed shut for 2 months.

Suffice to say, its time had come.

Since it was in a light-use location, I decided to swap in one of my Kyocera FS-C5100DN printers from elsewhere in the school, and replace that printer with the newer model FS-C5150DN. I’d bought one a few months earlier and been quite happy with it, so it seemed like a decent choice given my long-standing hatred of HP and more recent hatred of Xerox.

What a fool I was.

  • Printer #1 arrived, but almost immediately failed. During its initial warm-up, it threw an error stating 7104:000000 CALL SERVICE. I called service, who told me it was something to do with a yellow toner sensor, possibly caused by the toner being compacted inside the cartridge during shipping. They advised a vigorous shaking of the cartridge, which did nothing except throw yellow toner across the floor. After trying a known good cartridge from my working FS-C5150DN, they declared the unit Dead On Arrival. Since it was brand new, I opted to call the distributor and they sent a replacement out.
  • Printer #2 lasted for all of 3 pages before the problems began. First it started printing a mottled purple pattern across the entire page (even outside the printable area). Then a few pages later, a page jammed entirely halfway out of the fuser. On removal, the page had a thick layer of purple toner – so thick you could scrape it off. I checked the toner levels at this point, and found that after 6 pages, the magenta and cyan had dropped from 100% to 6% (the black and yellow were still at 100%). I called service. They declared it DOA. This time Kyocera sent out a new one under warranty.
  • Printer #3 arrived, and after a now well-practiced unpacking, I turned it on and printed a test page. It jammed. No bizarre toner problems this time, just a simple jam. I powered off the printer and cleared the jam via the rear doors. I then powered it back on. Or at least, I tried to. The power button no longer did anything. Known good lead, known good socket. Nothing.

    I called service.

    They declared it DOA.

Now, after 3 dead printers even I was beginning to wonder what on earth was going on. Was I an unknowing Patient Zero for some kind of printer plague? Did our Year 2 pupils emit some manner of radiation that was deadly to this model of printer? Everything about the environment was identical from the previous printer. Same location, same power cord, same socket, same network cable. Every time I could plug the old printer back in – the older model Kyocera, remember – and it would fire up just fine.

On my 3rd call, I told Kyocera I was giving up. I still had the distributor’s replacement (printer #2), so I asked them to come and pick up printer #3 while I sent printer #’2 back for a refund. To their credit, they agreed without much fuss. I suspect even they weren’t willing to sacrifice another printer by now. Two days day later, despite an added logistics challenge, I bid farewell to the last Kyocera I will ever buy.

Later that day, I tried a completely different printer in the same location, an HP Color LaserJet 3600. I’d never been so happy to see an HP printer work.

P.S. Some readers are reporting an advert immediately below this text which looks like a video. Do not click it – it is malware. I have reported this to WordPress.com as they alone control the ads on this blog, and they have responded that they will “report it to our ad provider ASAP.”

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

6 responses to “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of… Printers?”

  1. Mr Mat says :

    Judge not your printer manufacturer alone on a freak series of DOA units, but also on the readiness of spirit to have them replaced.

    (That is the second commandment. Of printers.)

    • charliebrownau says :

      Sounds like you had as much fun with warranty / replacement printers as I did with Asus LCD’s . I went thou 6 models of Asus 22″ LCD’s at the computer wholesaler till I found one without a dead pixel

  2. Daniel Beardsmore says :

    I just noticed that the Xerox ColorCube … sorry Qube (!) 8570N drivers still use ctl3dv2.dll buttons from Win16 in the print properties window! (It looks like they’re using custom controls based on Win16 ones. I presume one of the GUIs out there must do custom controls right.)

    Prints OK though, except for not being able to write on top of the ink.

    I will be glad once printers become completely and irreversably obsolete.

  3. tombull89 says :

    That’s very unfortunate. The first Kyocera I used was replacing a HP 2600 and worked fine without any problems.

    Even more unfortunate was the choice of the advert beneath the article. I realise you may have to have ads to cover the cost of running the site but this one looked like a video player which, when clicked on, went straight to a .exe file to download. Luckily, the content filter kicked in and blocked it. It’s blatently NOT YouTube but it could so easily be taken it’s part of the article. See http://i.imgur.com/GNYxd.png for a screenshot.

    • tombull89 says :

      I was probably hoping that the video would be you going “Office Space” on the printer with a baseball bat…

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Ads are placed on the site by WordPress.com, and I have absolutely no control over them. I have got a screenshot and details of the ad in question, and will be reporting it to WordPress immediately. Thanks for letting me know.

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