Epson ink cartridges used to be sold in flimsy little paperboard boxes. So flimsy that shoplifters would simply open up the lid, take out the vacuum-packed ink cartridge, slap some more Scotch tape, and walk away. Who the hell seals their expensive consumnables with Scotch Tape?! I would go to K-Mart to get some ink, as by some evil law of the universe I had run out of ink 2 hours before a paper was due. And the contents of every single box, both color and black ink, had been ganked. Shelfs of boxes, hundreds of cartridges. All gone. The only ones left were old and encrusted as they were from obsolete models that nobody used. K-Mart employees staring in shock. Managers sweating about theft insurance.

Not any more though! Epson packaging scientists have created a system through which you can't extract the cartridge even if you have legally bought the cartridge and now sit in your own home attempting to extract it.

First is the box. Evil Origami. It is a sturdy cardboard complex, exquisitely folded so as to make it impossible to open without cutting. The second layer is a plastic bag, again quite tough. Possibly undoable by biting, but not by stretching or tearing. Use a knife. Youll be amazed how much Corporate America can make poor little polymers endure. Then, there is a little cardboard construct, another little Origami piece which cannot be unfolded but must be cut or torn. As it is very small and yet thick this is quite hard. Now, you have reached the prize, the vacuum-packed ink cartridge. Or have you? The packing material is an ultra-tough polymer. It gives in and bend when you use scissors on it, but never actually cuts. You must try dozens of times to find the right angle to cut from. A knife doesnt work either. If you try to cut from a side or corner, the moldable surface just hooks on, and you cant slice. If you just try really hard the whole setup will bend your way and since by now you are holding it still to try and cut it you will end up stabbing yourself.

So eventually you do get the package open. You insert your nice and shiny White and Purple ink cartridge. And wait 10 minutes for the overly complicated dipping mechanism to punch a simple hole in each of the sealed ink channels and put them on their receptacles. But what do you find? As explained in other writeups regarding Epson Bubblejets, the inefficient printhead assembly has clogged itself and cannot be unclogged by the automatic head cleaning procedure. And you can't clean it yourself as with all the proprietory tech Epson just had to put into it you cant remove the printhead and clean it as you'll never be able to put it back on within the small millimeter of proper alignment.

No, you have to take it in to Tech Support. And pay $150 for repairs on your $300 printer. And swear to buy Lexmark or HP next time.

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