Greed robs itself | Daniel J. Koren's
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Greed robs itself

Posted by danieljkoren on September 27, 2014 in Devotional |
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I do business with a company that has robbed itself of my money by being too greedy. Now, I do not want to call names, but I will tell you the story. One day while walking through an office supply store, I hit the demo button on a color printer. I do not know why I hit it; I already had a good monochrome printer that was serving me well. Also, I did not have any money to spend on a printer.

That demo sheet of printed paper changed my world. I held in my hand a full page of the most beautiful, glossy print of open paint cans of all varieties. I had never seen a printer create such a vivid image without special photo paper. I showed it to my wife and she was sold, too. Then I went down the line and hit the demo button on all the printers. It was not just a fluke. None of the HPs or Brothers had the quality to compare to my love at first site.

I came up with the money to buy that creature and started using it for all the print jobs at our church. That 80 pound machine had an expensive appetite. I bought it a high-dollar diet of toner, drums, and other consumable products. Then, one day, I came across a company selling toner for this machine. It was an aftermarket manufacturer who provided toner at one-fifth the price of what the original manufacturer was selling it for. Since it was out of warranty at this point and I would not void anything, I started enjoying the savings. I found that this unit had been popular enough that several components could be purchased very reasonably from other companies.

Last year, ten years after my first purchase, I bought another printer from this same company. I expected not only the wonderful quality I had always known, but to keep saving money with some of the hacks I had learned on the old unit. It’s a long story if you are not familiar with printers, but basically the drum roller sets the toner on the paper, the transfer belt moves the paper through the machine, and the fuser melts the toner onto the page. Each of these items wears out after a while. To make sure you do not forget to replace them, the unit keeps a count of how many times they have been used. It will shut down and not print anymore until you buy a new toner cartridge, drum, fuser, or transfer belt.

The problem is that the drum units are to be thrown away after only 20,000 prints. The fuser only lasts 60,000 and so does the transfer belt. The machine will lock up and not do another thing until you buy another $100-200 component to keep it running. I hate this because with the first unit, I bought, I learned a hack code that resets the counters on the drums, fuser, and belt. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars as the manufacturer would like me to do, I reset the counters and keep printing. So far, my fuser and belt have cranked out 200,000 prints. I know that the product does not need to be replaced as often as the manufacturer wants you to believe. They are making a huge profit at our expense as well as a needless impact on the environment with a wasteful use of resources.

So, this past week I called the manufacturer because my new printer could not be reset as easily. My argument was that no automobile manufacturer could stay in business if they locked up a person’s car for not changing the tires at the suggested interval. If the customer wanted to keep driving on bald tires, they could do so at their own risk. I told the tech I wanted a reset code to keep my new machine running until I it truly need to be replaced. When I complained about being gouged by these control tactics, I was told that they were a company that existed to make a profit; this was how they did it.

I’m sorry. I do not exist to make you a profit. I have to print quality content on paper and I will find the most cost effective way of doing it. My complaint won me a callback from one of the top techs at this international corporation. He said in his weekly meeting with the top execs of the company, he would voice my concerns. I told him I had hacked the old machine and realized I did not need to replace the components nearly as often as they wanted us to believe. He gave me a line about making sure they only produced the best quality prints. I told him I knew the indicators to be sure my quality did not suffer, and yada, yada.

The sad part, I told the exec tech, was that in their attempt to make themselves profitable, they had spawned other third-party vendors who were making that money instead. If they reduced the price of their products to even a third of what they are, there would not have been a financial incentive for remanufacturers to produce something else. Maybe my voice will make a little impact. Probably not. I still love the quality of these machines, but cannot afford to print at the price of their components.

After that phone call, I did more web research and found some cheats to get around the time-out features of this machine. I can now reset the toner cartridges after I refill them at a fifth of the price the manufacturer sells new ones. I can reset the drum for $5, a savings of $200 since it extends its useful life by three times. I can reset the transfer belt, saving me $150, and I may never have to buy another one. The fuser still has me hung, but I am sure someone will come up with a hack for it soon, too. In their attempt to get a thousand or more dollars out of me each year, my favorite printer company is not going to get another dime outside of the price of the original machine. Their greed has lost them a lot of money.

Greed is not just a corporate problem. Self-employed professionals, employers, and everybody else can fall into the pit of trying to make too much money too fast. Even well-meaning believers can start out to do something for the Lord and end up turning it into a money hungry machine. I do not want to be guilty of that. To be sure I am not, I am giving away free shipping on my new book and a 20% discount (an offer that cannot stay up for long!). Do you know a dad who could use a good story book with his children? Get it for him today and at check out, enter the discount code FRIENDS20.

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