Built-in obsolescence (Canon Pixma MX892)

One day you print, and the next day you don’t. In the case of our Canon Pixma MX892, the built-in obsolescence error message is “B200”. Built-in obsolescence means: if this error message pops up, the device has pretty much reached the end of its lifetime that has been set by the manufacturer, and you better get familiar with the fact that you’ll have to replace it.

We had bought this multi-function (all-in-one, AIO) device at Costco three or four years ago. It wasn’t really expensive, and we primarily used it as a network scanner (which is pretty neat for the price, around $120), and I’d say our average print output was around 3 pages per month.

Nevertheless, we used up three whole packs of ink, and a fourth magenta cartridge from another pack. The complete pack of ink costs $80, so we spent $320 on the ink (I guess I can give away 4 of the 5 cartridges from the last pack now).

But why did we need so much ink? Because the printer rinses its print head all the time. It’s an absolutely terrible user experience. You quickly need a print out. One page. The printer wakes up as you send the job, begins to do “something”, making sounds that translate to: “hold on, I think I’m gonna print! Wait, no really, I’ll print! Just hold a little longer, I’ll print… yes, just wait… oh, wait, oooops!”

…to then tell you with a beep that it just used up another ink cartridge. Not for printing of course, for rinsing! It’s not advisable to have any blunt, heavy tools within reach at this point.

And then one day, it just decides to die. “I’ve rinsed all my life, time to retire, B200!”

Unsurprisingly, the internet is full with suggested “solutions” to the “B200” problem. I tried them, but I can’t get my printer back to work. I can get around the error message that way, and at least use it as a scanner, but as soon as I send a print job, the B200 error message pops up again.

Canon Pixma B200 error message
Canon Pixma B200 error message – please pardon the dust…

I wonder why printer manufacturers almost collectively decided to build fine pieces of electronics, astonishingly packed with functionality, add something that would render them unusable, sell them below cost and make money from the insanely expensive ink instead.

I mean, not from an economic point of view, I get that… it’s just a shitty, rotten way to do business. But from the point of user experience and customer satisfaction, that’s just a terrible idea. Would you buy a car that is locked-in to dealer-supplied gasoline that costs 20 times more? Hell no!

I’m not throwing good money after bad one, so Canon isn’t getting any of my business in the future, that much is sure. I’m not going to reward such business practices.

They do get an award for useless, cryptic error messages. Their support staff has a set of generic troubleshooting steps that they keep repeating in their support forums when someone asks about the B200 error. The problem is… it’s not a solution to the problem, of course. And what’s the point of contacting “the service center” when you know that they’re going to suggest a replacement print head that costs almost as much as the entire printer?

So for the time being, our Pixma MX892 will work as a network scanner, and if I need a printout, I just go to the FedEx office. At 13 cents per page black & white, and considering that we spent $320 in ink for our Canon printer, I can get ~2400 pages printed there – which is more than we ever printed in the time we’ve had our Canon printer…

Oh and, just for reference, since there’s a striking similarity: Coffee Calculations.

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