Epson caught in the act

Epson programs the blocking of its printers. Planned obsolescence is still relevant.

Printers are important tools for office life. As they become more and more sophisticated, they don’t seem to have solved their main flaw: recurring and sudden failures. Error messages are displayed and the only way to print this document, which you absolutely must obtain, is to call an authorized repairer. However, she was walking very well the day before.

Has the local in question suddenly decided to go on strike? Not really according to Fight to repair, which screened several Epson printers. It was after the publication of a tweet by Mark Tavern, a lecturer at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, that the forum dedicated to repair investigated the topic. The husband explains that his wife’s printer is bricked by displaying a message: “The device has reached the end of its life.” The only option for him is to pay a repairman or buy a new printer.

According to Fight to repair, these error messages are programmed by the company to prevent further damage due to the arrival at the end of the life of certain parts. Epson explains on its website as follows:

“Like so many products, all Epson consumer inkjet products have a limited lifespan due to wear and tear on the components during normal use. At some point, the product will reach a state where satisfactory print quality cannot be maintained, or components will have reached the end of their lifetime. (…) Printers are designed to stop working to the point where further use without replacing the ink pads (problem cited in Mark’s case ed.) can cause property damage from ink spillage or related safety issues excess ink in contact with an electrical component.”

According to Fight to repair, it is the L310, L360 and L365 models that would be affected, other models and brands could still use the same strategy. Epson did not respond to requests for comment Fight to repair.

An illegal practice?

In fact, Epson wants to protect its users and their devices by applying the precautionary principle. At least that is the argument that the company puts forward. But is it really legal? Fight to repair addressed Aaron Perzanowski, law professor and author Right to repair. “To my knowledge, this practice is not clearly disclosed prior to the purchase of these printers. Even if there is a mention buried in a license or website, a software time bomb like this goes against reasonable consumer expectations.”

A contradictory practice

Planned obsolescence was brought to light a long time ago. This practice has disastrous environmental consequences. Overconsumption leads to the production of 20 to 50 million tons of electronic waste and appliances every year around the world. We think so 16 to 20 kg of such waste is thrown away per person per year. This type of practice therefore weighs heavily on the bill.

Furthermore, planned obsolescence not only has consequences for our production of waste, it also leads to increased production and depletion of resources, destruction of soil and vegetation. In France, according to Article 99 of Law 2015-992, planned obsolescence indicates “the set of techniques by which a marketer aims to deliberately reduce a product’s useful life in order to increase its replacement rate.”

She is punished with two years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros, the amount of the fine could be increased to 5% of the average annual turnover. It should also be remembered that in 2020 the government implemented the mandatory product repair assessment as part of the law against waste. It tells you at a glance if the product you want has a long life and if the repair is expensive or not.

Leave a Comment