Tuesday, September 06, 2005

World Gone Mad : Official! (part two)

As the title of this blog asks “Life…What the hell is going on?” And as the tag-line says, ‘Some things just don’t make sense’.

Sometimes I try to pretend that my crazy ‘The world’s gone mad!’ shtick is just me trying to be funny, or at best, a gross exaggeration…then I’ll come across something that proves that ‘The World Going Mad’, isn’t me just trying to be funny, or even an exaggeration. It’s just the stone-cold truth,

Read on, dear reader…read on. Prepare to lose your faith in humanity. The world is indeed, stupid, and makes no sense whatsoever.

A couple of months ago, Sunny and I bought a new printer. As I was pulling the new printer off the Walmart shelf, an older gentleman was putting the same model I selected back…in something of a huff.

“I wouldn’t bother!” He said, angrily. “You’ll end up spending a hundred dollars on the ink!”

I just shrugged, smiled and put the printer in my trolley. So why wasn’t I concerned about the exorbitant price of printer ink?

I’ll tell you.

Printers have a lot in common with mobile phones, in that you buy a few hundred dollars worth of technology for much, much less, all because the company you’re buying from knows that they will make their money back a hundred times over on consumables. With phones, they make the money back through line rental and the cost of calls. With printers, it’s the ink. You buy $300 worth of printer for around $40, but then spend much more than $300 for ink over the printer’s lifetime.

In short, if you’re an experienced geek, you know you’re going to get shafted on ink, but let it slide because you know you’re getting the printer dirt cheap. (Also, experienced geeks buy off the internet, know a good computer fair or buy chipped cartridges).

So what has this got to do with the world being crazy?

Well, I was thinking. (uh oh)

I bought my printer (a Lexmark Z710), for the grand total of $20. It came complete with a color ink cartridge and a photo ink cartridge. Now black ink is fairly cheap (around the $20 mark), a color ink cartridge is twice that… and a photo cartridge is around $60. The printer costs $20, but to buy a complete set of ink cartridges will cost you about $100.

Seems to make sense. I just explained that Lexmark are using ink to recoup the money for their printer.

But who says I have to buy ink cartridges?

‘Huh?’ I hear you say. ‘If you don’t buy ink, how do you print?’

Here’s the thing.

What’s to stop me from going back to Walmart, buying another Lexmark Z710, taking the ink, and just throwing the printer away, or selling it to someone?

My computer is already set up for the printer, the only added difficulty in buying a new printer every time is carrying the extra weight to the car…and offloading a brand new printer…which you could sell for half the price you paid for it, and who’s going to turn down a brand new, boxed printer for $10?

In short:

Price of buying one black and white, one color and one photo cartridge: Approx $120
Price of buying a whole new printer, complete with color and photo cartridge: $20
Price of buying a whole new printer, if you sell it for half price and keep the ink: $10

Hell, I could start a business!:

Buy a load of printers for $20 a piece. Cash value $120, including ink.
Split up the printers and ink, and sell for half their value, $20 for the color cartridge, $30 for the photo cartridge and $10 for the printer.

That’s $50 profit per printer…if you sell everything for half price retail.

Let me spell this out:

Buy 20 printers for $400, sell them half price and make $1000, clear profit. That’s $1000, after you’ve recouped your $400 outlay.

Hell, even if you just sold the printers for $10 a piece and kept the ink for yourself, that means you’re only paying $10 for $100 worth of ink.

Even if you just threw the printers in the trash, you’d still be making a $100 saving every time.

But do you want to know the really scary part of this? The part that makes me loose faith in the human race?

People actually fall for it!

Rather than spend $20 on the new printer…they go out and spend $120 for the ink! Have we been conditioned to do this? Or are we all just incredibly, incredibly dumb?

Businesses continually do things like this. They’re shooting themselves in the foot…only we’re jumping in the way and taking the bullet for them. They’re giving us the option of getting something for $20, or the same thing for, at least, $120. Guess which option we take?

Here’s another example:

Back in England, my scanner blew a fuse. As is the case with all consumer electronics today, there was no way to open the scanner up to replace the fuse without physically breaking the casing. So I emailed technical support, to enquire how much it would cost to have it repaired.

Here’s what I was told:

I would have to send the scanner back, using registered post, at a cost of 30GBP…each way.

Then I would have to pay 50GBP to actually have the thing repaired.

So, all told, to have that 5 cent fuse replaced, it would have cost me 110GBP…30GBP less than the scanner cost in the first place!

I did what any sane person would. Through the damn thing out, and went and bought a replacement (although not from the same company).

Can someone please explain to me how a company can charge 30GBP more that the scanner actually costs, to replace a five cent fuse. I mean, who in their right mind is going to send something back, wait a couple of months, and pay more than the price of a new item for the privilege.

With the situation as it is, it’s the equivalent of it making more financial sense to scrap a brand new car because of a flat tire, than to have the tire repaired or replaced.

Again, the saddest thing is that some people must actually pay them to do this! If no one ever took them up on the option to wait a couple of months and then pay more to have their equipment repaired than it would cost to go buy a replacement…they just wouldn’t offer the service.

I would say the world has gone mad...but let's face it, the world has always been mad.

1 comment:

Kato said...

I've never really understood economics, so I'm right there in the boat with you. Several years ago I went to the store to buy two ink cartridges. It was going to cost me 70 bucks. I looked at the printer section and found I could buy a newer, better printer with two ink cartridges in it for 50 bucks. I went into the store looking for ink, I walked out with a new printer. Silly.