Earlier this month a 28-year-old man was caught attempting to leave a Mary Esther (Florida) Walmart with two Hewlett-Packard printer ink cartridges valued at $135.94. The incident warranted a mere three lines of coverage in the local newspaper, the Northwest Florida Daily News. Nevertheless, the article prompted more than its share of comments from Daily News readers, who (uncharacteristically) expressed a certain amount of sympathy for the accused thief, noting that it’s a crime how much companies like H-P, Canon, and Epson are charging for refill cartridges, arguably the biggest rip-off in retail. It’s not just the price of the cartridges, it’s that many are designed to “read” empty before they’re out of ink, or designed to stop working after a certain number of pages are printed (regardless of how much ink is used).
It’s why Kodak has responded by undercutting the other companies on price, running an ad campaign that claims: “If you’re not printing on a Kodak printer, you’re just printing money for the other printer companies.” Personally, I’m rooting for Kodak to succeed, forcing H-P, Canon and Epson to respond.