Last modified: 02 August 2013
I've always really liked Epson printers. I bought my first one, an Epson C46, in my first year at Uni and after printing tens of thousands of pages with cheap replacement inks it's still going and still works pretty well. Sure, it had a kill-switch that meant for no reason it refused to work after a few thousand pages, but I fixed that with the excellent SSC Service Utility and just kept going. I've reset the waste ink counter five times now with no damage to the printer.
The C46 was really cheap (about £40 in about 2003), really loud and really slow and when I needed a new printer I of course got an Epson one, with wifi and a scanner thrown in for fun. I really liked it, until after about 8 weeks when all kinds of problems started kicking off. I wrote an extremely popular review about it on Amazon so I won't bore you here but once I started investigating things it was clear that SSC Service Utility wasn't going to fix the problem because Epson have added extra encryption to "encourage" you to buy a new printer. Loads of people suggested ways around the problem, none of the suggestions worked. It turns out that most people who make suggestions haven't used them and are just morons trying to tell you that you're an idiot to make their lives feel better. To add insult to injury Epson's engineers have cleverly disabled the fully functional scanner because the printer part of the box "required" a "service", aka a replacement. Silly.
I wrote to Epson to let them know how disappointed I was and got a pathetic identikit corporate response with an offer to rip me off even more. Here's the letter so make up your own mind, it's actually quite polite.
I did some more reading and it turns out that Epson's practice of deliberately disabling a fully functioning product at an artificially capped lifespan and deliberately stopping a user from fixing the problem is probably illegal under EU law, specifically the WEEE regulation on electronic waste, so I wrote to my MEP, Linda McAvan. Now I have to say she did a lot of hard work on this and I've earned a lot of respect for her but ultimately Epson are a big company with lots of money and I am just a citizen with the law on my side so really there was only going to be one winner here. At least I got a letter from the Office of Fair Trade essentially saying I was a pathetic little runt and that I should accept my place in the world.
Okay so. What am I doing now? Well once my printer was a write-off I knew I could start taking some risks so I download some really dodgy software from bittorrent, followed the instructions and KAPOW!!!! my printer is fixed. I've not found anywhere online to download this software and I wouldn't So now I'm sharing my story and the software I downloaded here. Just download and follow the instructions. It will probably work on similar printers to the one I have (px700 series, probably also the px800 series).
Disclaimer: THIS SOFTWARE IS NOT WRITTEN BY ME. IT WAS OBTAINED FROM A DODGY BITTORRENT SITE. IT MAY RUIN YOUR PRINTER! IT MAY CONTAIN A VIRUS! IF YOU USE IT, IT'S ON YOUR BACK NOT MINE! DON'T BLAME ME IF STUFF GOES WRONG!
Despite all those warnings Epson don't really like me making this software available and contacted me on the 1st of July asking me to remove the software from my site. You can see our full correspondance here and I'm very happy to comply with their request if they can get someone in my own country to explain their objections to me. I wonder if the American lawyer who contacted me realised the irony of asking me to remove the software from a UK-hosted site, at a UK-registered domain just three days before the 4th of July, the date he celebrated declaring independence from my home nation. Probably not. It's been two working weeks since I replied to Epson's request to take down the software, they have not bothered to get in touch.