Instant Ink

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March 30, 2018 by phicks2012

Once Upon a Time I had a Hobby Shop, and the Hobby Shop had a copy machine — a big hulking floor model, because that’s mostly what people/businesses had back then in days of yore when copy machines were more ogre than hobbit. When the business closed I kept the machine, took it home, and used it to print out our SCA Newsletter, The Equinox. I mean why not?

Because the SCA is not-for-profit, Shires like ours couldn’t really afford copying costs, even back then when they weren’t nearly as ludicrous, so I donated the printing. All I asked for was a box of printer paper each year, and the Shire was fine with that. Really! Of course, printer paper was cheaper back then too, but I digress!

Eventually, that machine started having troubles, and got harder and harder to repair or to find parts for, so I donated it to a small local church, bit the financial bullet, and got another one. Like the first, it was refurbished rather than new, and a big, honking floor model, but it worked, duplexed, collated, accepted ledger size paper, and I had a maintenance agreement on it so that any needed repairs were covered. Even though the main thing I used it for was newsletters, I didn’t ask the Shire to cover the maintenance agreement or the printing, and I was fine with that. Really! The monthly coverage fees weren’t bad, and I did, after all, use it for a few other things, right?

But years pass and eventually companies like Savin get conquered by Office Equipment Vikings, i.e. bought out, and then parts for the older machines (even those still being offered for sale on EBay) stop being made. Thus, it recently transpired that my elderly copier needed a part that was no longer available. Oh, it still copied, but it left black lines across the copies. That just wasn’t Kosher, so no one even wanted to pillage it!

So I started looking around for a replacement again, only those are now grotesquely expensive, especially for a machine used primarily to make copies I am going to donate. An agent for the copier company, taking pity on me, actually suggested that I might just be better off going to someplace like Kinkos and having them print my newsletters, so I started looking into that option with expectations of success. After all, making copies is relatively cheap for just a few, right?

Can you say wallet-shock? Every place I called wanted at least 12-cents a copy (some as much as 18-cents) for simple black & white, and since The Equinox is 48-pages, 4-pages per sheet but 12-copies per copy. it would cost me a minimum of $2.88 per copy of the newsletter to print it out — when the paper subscriptions only cost subscribers $1.00 each per issue. I hope their respective stockholders are happy, but I’m afraid my response was “Not in this lifetime, Bubba!”

So I started looking again for inexpensive copiers, thinking that just maybe I could find a small tabletop model that wouldn’t insure bankruptcy, but what I found were all very much like my existing HP Officejet — the one I’ve never used for this purpose because of the expense of printer ink. Hmmmmmm.

But here’s the deal. Hewlett Package has this new program called “Instant Ink”. You sign up for it, and if you only do “Occasional Printing” (up to 50 pages a month) you pay $2.99 monthly. They monitor your ink levels, and when you’re low they send you new ink cartridges at no additional charge. If you do “Moderate Printing” (up to 100 pages a month) you pay $4.99, and if you do “Frequent Printing (up to 300 pages a month) you pay $9.99. In each case, for every 25 pages you run over you pay another $1.00, but if you don’t use all of your pages they “roll over” to the next month. Not bad, especially considering that my maintenance agreement on the old copier was already costing me about $10 a month — or more if I made extra copies.

Anyway, I had signed up in November for “Moderate Printing”, but had only been averaging about 30-pages per month since, because I was using the copier rather than the printer for newsletters. However, after consulting with an HP agent I realized that my LEAST expensive copying solution was to upgrade my Instant Ink program to “Frequent Printing”. Not only would I then be paying only about 3.3-cents a copy, I would be paying 3.3-cents a copy for COLOR copies, because on this program they don’t differentiate between color and black & white ink. My old copier cost me about 3-cents a copy when you factored in the maintenance agreement costs, and only did black & white.

There is, of course, a downside. While my Officejet will duplex, it is very VERY slow at it. Printing out all of the copies of an issue does take hours — okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but slow is slow — and if I upgrade to a Laserjet to get the speed — well, they don’t have any sort of Instant Toner program for Laserjets. Also, a Laserjet is expensive, so I’d definitely have to weigh my priorities. Right now, as long as I consider patience a virtue I can use the equipment I already have and spend about the same amount while actually winding up with color copies of our newsletter rather than black & white copies. I can live with that!

So I called the Kidney Foundation, the Salvation Army, and United Way and offered to donate the old copier — if they wanted it. They no longer accept anything that “plugs in” apparently — something about liability issues, so apparently some goobers will actually sue charitable organizations if their nearly free items are imperfect. Go figure. However, Goodwill says they’ll take it, if I deliver it, so maybe we can find it a new forever home after all. Someone just might like that.

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