Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Props for service.

A few days ago I was trying to copy a photograph for someone when my Kodak ESP3 printer suddenly stopped laying down any red ink.

I checked the status monitor and saw that the color cartridge was nearly out, so I figured it just needed replacing, so I went to Walmart and bought a 2 pack of color cartridges for $25.

However, replacing the cartridge did nothing to fix the problem and I started getting an error message telling me the print head was missing or not installed correctly.

So, I hopped on line and found that the print head is a massive problem with the new Kodak printers. You see, most printers don't have permanent print heads. Usually, the print head is part of the print cartridge.

Well, it turns out that by separating the cartridge from the print head is why ink for Kodak printers is so much cheaper (fifteen bucks instead of more than sixty)…but the problem is that a permanent print head is far more likely to gum up, reduce image quality or break than one that is replaced every time you replace the ink cartridges.

Now, I read a lot of scathing reviews for Kodak printers and I have to say the vast majority of them are totally unfair.

First of all, I have to assume that most of these reviews were written by people who'd never owned another printer. For example, lots of people complained that the ESP series used a lot of ink, and that it wouldn't print black and white when the color cartridge was empty. Sure, all that's true, but that's also been true of every printer I've owned since daisy-wheel and dot matrix printers were replaced with inkjets.

Also, I didn't notice that my ESP3 went through an inordinate amount of ink. They don't exactly last forever, but they last as long (if not longer) than the Epson, HP and Brother printers I've owned.

I'll tell you something my ESP3 didn't do, however, that my last three printers did do: My ESP3 doesn't waste a ton of ink by 'cleaning' itself every 12 hours whether you want it to or not (even when it's turned off). My ESP3 doesn't claim a cartridge is empty when it's clearly still a quarter full…and the cartridges don't have hidden, undocumented 'expiry dates' that automatically claim to be empty after a set time limit even if they've never been used.

A few people even complained about image quality…but after using Epson, HP and Brother brand printers, I can say that the Kodak ESP3 has the best image quality out of any printer I've ever used.

However, the main reason I wanted to write this post is because of the tendency for people to buy a defective product and instantly go online, find every review site they can and post scathing reviews.

Yeah, one guy referred to Kodak as KoCRAP throughout his 1500 word rant of a review.

I don't write bad reviews based on a defective product. I only write a bad review if I buy a defective product and the company's customer service is crappy and doesn't correct the problem.

Kodak's customer service was an absolute dream.

I contacted an agent through their online chat system. I told the tech support guy about the error message, and how I'd uninstalled and reinstalled the printhead multiple times without success.

In return he asked a couple of questions, told me the print head on my model was a known issue and that they'd designed new ones…then asked for my address so they could ship me a replacement absolutely free of charge. He also said I should have it within 3-5 business days.

Long story short, I don't blame a company if something slips by quality control unless they refuse to fix the problem. If Kodak's tech support made me jump through hoops or told me I'd have to buy a new print-head or ship my printer to them at my own cost, then I'd get online and start posting scathing reviews.

As it stands I bought a hundred dollar printer/scanner combo that worked flawlessly for 12 months. Then the print head breaks and it takes me five minutes online with Kodak tech support to get them to ship me a replacement absolutely free of charge.

That's service and that's how to earn my loyalty.

Oh, and I'd also like to point out that if I had to pay for a new print head every 12 months, with the savings on ink, I'd still be saving a ton more money than I would if I bought an HP or Epson.