Regionalised print cartridges… WTF!?!?!

So finally I managed to unpack my printer and get it setup. Well more than finally it was needed urgently as I have to print and sign some forms to get my car and bike cleared by customs or the shipping company will confiscate them…..My printer is a HP Photosmart C7180 which I spent over $500 on from JB HiFi in Australia… and it has printed less than 1000 sheets (combined photos and printouts.)

The first thing it did was tell me 2 of the cartridges have exceeded their expiry date and did I want to continue… I selected ‘OK’ to continue and it went into it’s cleaning cycle… then came the sound of problems.. “Bong!”

“Bong!” in this case presenting an error message that there wasn’t enough ink in the magenta cartridge to continue without possible damage. No problem I thought… quick trip to the local computer store and found out they don’t have the cartridges. The next stop was the HP Main Dealer for Malta, who told me in no uncertain terms that the cartridge was not available in Malta or the rest of Europe as the cartridges are “regionalised”.


Yes the cartridges are regionalised. If you buy a printer in EMEA you can only get cartridges for it in EMEA. If you buy it in the USA you can only get cartridges for it in the USA and APAC similar. Not believing my ears I decided to go online and found that HP 02 cartridges are indeed not available in Europe, and further they are not available to anyone in Europe… What follows is a log to a support droid at HP:

05/05/2010 02:59:07PM Session Started with Agent (Cynthia)
05/05/2010 02:59:07PM Michelle Sullivan: “International orders.. are they possible?”
05/05/2010 02:59:08PM Agent (Cynthia): “Thank you for contacting HP Home & Home Office Store Chat. My name is Cynthia. How are you doing today?”
05/05/2010 02:59:16PM Agent (Cynthia): “Hi, Michelle.”
05/05/2010 02:59:23PM Michelle Sullivan: “I’m good, how are you?”
05/05/2010 02:59:59PM Agent (Cynthia): “I am doing great. Thank you for asking.”
05/05/2010 03:00:27PM Michelle Sullivan: “Ive just made an international mov to Malta and have an HP Photosmart printer that is about 6 months old and am very unhappy that the Maltese HP main dealer has just told me that I can’t by HP02 cartridges in Europe…”
05/05/2010 03:00:28PM Agent (Cynthia): “I understand that you need to know if we accept international orders.”
05/05/2010 03:00:49PM Agent (Cynthia): “I am sorry to know that.”
05/05/2010 03:00:54PM Michelle Sullivan: “so I thought I’d try them online… and the sie seems to not allow me”
05/05/2010 03:01:06PM Agent (Cynthia): “Michelle, our store is only able to cater US-based customers.”
05/05/2010 03:01:10PM Michelle Sullivan: “s/sie/site”
05/05/2010 03:01:33PM Agent (Cynthia): “We don’t accept and process orders placed outside the US.”
05/05/2010 03:02:25PM Agent (Cynthia): “Do you have friends who’re located in the US that can place the order on your behalf?”
05/05/2010 03:02:25PM Michelle Sullivan: “ok so what do I do… I have a 6 month old printer/scanner/copier that is now useless, less than 6 months old and I have to replae it because HP don’t supply the printer in Europe…. sounds very UN Green and an international press issue to me… in the m”
ean time I just want my printer to work
05/05/2010 03:03:22PM Michelle Sullivan: “I have a couple I might be able to ask, but it really isn’t that convenient. and wouldn’t have purchased HP had I known in advance that you regionalise cartridges…”
05/05/2010 03:03:32PM Agent (Cynthia): “I understand.”
05/05/2010 03:03:57PM Michelle Sullivan: “any suggestions ? (any comment from managers that you could bash their heads together with?)”
05/05/2010 03:04:17PM Agent (Cynthia): “There are other resellers, both local and online, that sell the item you need and are able to make deliveries outside the US.”
05/05/2010 03:04:42PM Michelle Sullivan: “ok that might work – got any names at all?”
05/05/2010 03:05:10PM Agent (Cynthia): “You can either go to BestBuy, WalMart, etc.”
05/05/2010 03:05:14PM Agent (Cynthia): “Do you have any other questions that I can help you with?”
05/05/2010 03:05:50PM Michelle Sullivan: “hmm best buy and walmart are us stores – do they ship internationally?”
05/05/2010 03:06:17PM Agent (Cynthia): “Please contact them for the information.”
05/05/2010 03:06:25PM Michelle Sullivan: “ok thank you”
05/05/2010 03:06:32PM Agent (Cynthia): “You are welcome.”
05/05/2010 03:06:35PM Agent (Cynthia): “Is there anything else I can assist you with today?”
05/05/2010 03:06:43PM Michelle Sullivan: “no thanks”
05/05/2010 03:06:47PM Agent (Cynthia): “Since you don’t need any further assistance, would it be okay if I close this chat?”
05/05/2010 03:06:53PM Michelle Sullivan: “yup”
05/05/2010 03:06:57PM Session Ended

Yes it would appear to be confirmed, you cannot buy cartridges for HP printers bought in Australia in Europe, though unlike the HP main dealer’s comment it would appear you can buy from the USA, so I followed the support droid’s recommendation… and searching for ‘HP 02 combo’ resulted in a single item “HP – 02 Inkjet Cartridge Combo Pack – Multicolor” (Model: CC604FN #1 | SKU: 8250377) which is the correct multipack cartridge set for my printer, I added 3 packs to my shopping cart, then went looking for the black cartridges… The result: “HP – 02 Vivera Inkjet Cartridge – Black” (Model: C8721WN | SKU: 7249621), so I added 2 packs, and proceeded to the checkout. Of course this is where it went wrong, you can’t select anything but a USA address, and checking the FAQs you can make international orders providing you ship to a USA address! What a load of.. well you know what…! Walmart was the same.. you can only ship to US addresses. Looks like the support droid is just that, nothing much more than a complex set of responder scripts that are looking for keywords and are not real people.


You’re supposed to be a Green company.. and you expect me to throw away my perfectly good nearly new multifunction printer scanner and buy a replacement because you don’t want to ship printer cartridges to Europe without people paying some ridiculous premium! Sounds to me that you are more interested in profitting off the home user than you are interested in best practice for the environment…! Anyhow why is there a need for nearly 100 printer cartridge types? Surely a printer + Ink is a pretty standard combo, and surely the ink that goes into them is pretty much identical, so why the 100+ cartridges for the different printer types? Why the ’10ml’ cartridges which last 160 sheets? Why not supply one cartridge type that just works with all printers.. It would take less to manufacture, it would mean that costs could be lowered and everyone benefits from that!… If it comes to that why supply tiny cartridges that need to be refilled or landfilled every 100+ sheets?

Am I crazy or is it all about smoke and mirrors with “We’re green” initiatives? Companies are really after profits and they don’t care about the environment!

Interestingly I have an Apple LaserJet 600 (yes the really old ones that stink the room out when you turn them on, and use power like it doesn’t matter), but apart from the network interface blowing up (which is the only reason I replaced it with the HP) it works fine. I’m beginning to think the money would have been better spent getting a netbook with a parallel interface (if such a thing exists) and using it as a print server.

For those thinking buy Epson, just be aware, I bought an Epson scanner way back in 2000, fantastic, colour scanner 1200dpi… used it twice and upgraded my OS (Windows at that time) and found that Epson doesn’t support the scanner on anything but Windows 98. I still have the scanner, why I don’t know, it should be landfill by now, I guess after spending all the money and using it only twice I’m holding on in the very slight miracle that Epson will also do the right thing and make an XP driver…! I very much doubt it though, I switched to a Mac now and well everything that I have for it “Just works” and my old Macbook Pro 15″ (now more than 3 years old) still ‘just works’… no wonder these damn things are so popular, even if they are limited by the one mouse button.

Roll on a world when the environment is as important as the bottom line and *everyone* does the right thing by the shareholders and mother earth!

Rant over!

Some days you just wish you never saw something….

Many people don’t know in my previous life I was originally trained as a Multi-Skilled Electronics Technician, trained by way of an apprenticeship at Birds Eye Walls in Lowestoft in England. The first year of training was all at the Lowestoft college where I spent my time working lathes and milling machines, then later wiring things up as an Electrician. A number of years in the factory training as an electrician followed as well as another year (later) in the Great Yarmouth College of Further Education left me with a broad base of training required to be an electrician. Needless to say over the years this training has been useful at home and at work as well as to provide pocket money and assistance to friends.

There are times though when I think it might have been more beneficial to have not trained as I often find myself presented with problems that I could really do without…!

Today was no exception. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo before I started this 2 minute job that turned into half a day’s nightmare.. I did however take a couple of photos when the realisation of what I was in for dawned on me. The “little job” was to fix or replace an unswitched single socket in the lounge of my new house. When the Melita cable man had been a few days earlier, he connected the lightening arrestor/cable earth to the socket (or so I thought.) When he left I noticed the socket was not fully flush against the wall and paid it little attention. A day or so later I added the HD player to the setup and on plugging it in to a multi-way adapter dislodged the socket and it hung loosely. I figured it was not secured properly and thought to myself, “no problem I’ll replace it with a new switched socket, or even a double socket if I could. I decided this morning (a Sunday morning so all the hardware stores are closed… brain of Britain I am!) to do the replacement, first I isolated the power and then and set to work promptly unscrewing the existing socket this is where I noticed the start of the troubles. The screws were not screwed into anything and were easily removed (to easily) I inched the socket forward and disconnected the active (Live/Red) cable, then the return (Neutral/Black) cable. At this point any electrician will know that something is wrong, you should disconnect the earth (Green or Green/Yellow) first as there are often exposed bars that you can short your screwdrivers to which will trip a RCD (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker).. not really a problem unless you’re working by the lights and you’re in an older house that has been adapted to use an RCD and everything is running through the RCD.

The reason for the omitting of the Earth terminal was that I could see substantial corrosion and wanted to get a better look before touching anything. Of course it wasn’t as easy as that, as the whole socket came away in my hand as shown in the first picture…

Next thing I noticed was the fact it all came away and the earth was not attached!! Severe corrosion had rusted away the terminal. Not only that but the same severe corrosion had rusted away the screw mounts, hence why the socket was not actually attached to anything.

Here began my quandary. My next step was to assess the damage, the next pictures graphically depict the extent of the problem..

..and finally the wall box itself…

notice that the very helpful idiot from Melita Cable had not warned me of anything, and infact did a damn good job at hiding the issue by pointing the earth cable at the bottom of the socket, embedding it into the crumbling plaster nicely hiding the fact the socket was damaged, unsecured and more importantly, not EARTHED!

Net result was Mr Melita had attempted to connect to the back of a socket, had then not connected anything as had finished of the socket. I know it’s not him who broke it, but I think as a very minimum issue he should have highlighted that he was unable to earth the cable and that the socket was a health hazard waiting to kill someone.

Net result was several hours of graft cleaning up what was left of the socket, noting that in 1966 the builders/electricians of Malta buried steel conduit into walls connecting them to standard galvanized steel in wall boxes. Now I was unable to get the reminants of the socket out of the wall so I secured an earth to the existing un-corroded conduit, and to the cable, used a wall mounted plastic box to cover the hole and crossed my fingers. I’m afraid to check the Earth Loop resistance, but note that now I know I am only plugging in double insualted earthless devices in the hope that nothing goes wrong before I replace the wiring completely.

Now back to the title, as you probably guessed by my little story, it is mostly referring to the incident with the socket and the fact it wasn’t earthed at all. In fact it goes further, as someone who knows what electricity can do and has a very healthy respect for it, I’m not about to leave any of the other sockets to chance, and checked a few on the ground floor. Result: the whole house is as bad and needs a complete re-wire!!!

None of which was picked up on the survey…