Update: Epson refutes manipulation claims

Epson Australia is concerned that legal action in the US accusing the printing vendor of manipulating equipment in order to sell more ink could have a negative impact locally.

Last week it issued a statement refuting the allegations made in the lawsuits, claiming they were “without merit”.

Epson Australia director of marketing, Mike Pleasants, called the legal action “ill-founded” and said the vendor denied the accusations “vigorously”.

The controversy first arose in July when a Dutch consumer organisation alleged that Epson had misled consumers by prematurely warning them to replace ink cartridges.

The US lawsuit has charged Epson with using technology to block inkjet cartridges prematurely even though a substantial amount of ink still remains in the cartridge, so that consumers are paying for ink they can't actually use.

Epson has now sought advice from two US research companies, Lyra Research and CAP Ventures, which claim that running an ink cartridge completely dry could damage the hardware’s printing mechanism.

Imaging expert at Lyra Research, Jim Forrest, said that there may be some ink left over because of the design to protect the longevity of the printer.

Epson Australia is taking the same stance, adding that its cartridges are also priced on the usable volume of ink, not on the total volume of ink.

The small “safety” reserve of ink ensures consistent image quality and prevents damage that could be caused by drawing air bubbles into the print head when there is no ink remaining, according to Epson.

Epson Australia director of marketing, Mike Pleasants, said that this was a common practice, but did not want to be drawn on the practices of Epson's competitors.

Pleasants conceded that if consumers preferred, they could use a refill or third-party cartridge, but “this is not advised by Epson because we can not ensure that damage will not be done”.

He said Epson was concerned that recommending consumers to override the ink replacement message would cause poor quality prints and could damage the printers.

However, Epson insists that the smart chips are there to make the printer more user-friendly and not to stamp out competition posed by refill companies and cartridge clone-makers.

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