We all hate having to buy new ink cartridges for our inkjet printers. The darn things seem to run out of ink all the time, and it’s tough to buy one color at a time. They’re incredibly expensive as well. Is there any way out of the “razor and razor blade” model? Continuous ink systems can theoretically provide a solution. What if, instead of having a bunch of small ink cartridges, you had external tanks of ink that had more ink than you’d ever need with hoses going to the print-head? That’s exactly a continuous ink system is. I decided to give the kit from Inkproducts.com a go!
I have always been infatuated with the idea of continuous ink systems, but it wasn’t until we had to print wedding invitations a few years ago that we felt really needed one. We could either pay a printer a per-invitation fee or we could use our own printer. I justified the cost of a continuous ink system, $129.99 at the time of purchase, by comparing it against the hundreds of dollars we would have to pay a professional printer. Furthermore, not only was the CIS cheaper, but we also got to keep the system once we were done printing invitations.
Anyhow, that was years ago, and the system worked well, but eventually it ran out of ink, and rather than refill it, I saw that Inkproducts.com had a new version out so I decided to spring for it. Step one in installing a custom ink system is to remove the old cartridges.
That’s where I hit my first snag… I pulled out the block of replacement ink cartridges I was supposed to install, and my hands got full of ink.
Can you see the detached hose on the left? Bummmmmer… I received a defective unit. I contacted Inkproducts.com. They asked me to send a picture, and as soon as they got the picture, they sent me a brand new unit with a pre-paid label to return the defective unit. That’s pretty solid customer service right there.
I received my replacement unit promptly, and after a quick visual inspection, the new cartridge unit looked good to go. I installed it into my printer, which is only slightly more complicated than installing a standard set of ink cartridges. As these units are all attached to the same ribbon of hoses. You place them all in the slots in a group, and then you snap them all in individually.
After they’re installed properly, some other pieces are included to guide the hose so there it doesn’t get caught on anything as the print head moves back and forth.
Then there’s the external tank. This kit includes a set of plastic hooks with double sided tape so you can fasten it to the side of the printer. This is a great solution as it keeps the tank secure to the side of the printer, but it’s easy enough to pop it off if you need to move it around to refill the cartridges or do some other maintenance.
Once installed, it was time to give it a go! I followed the instructions to run a print head cleaning and printed out a few test pages. I got an “error” on my printer that Non-HP cartridges were installed. Right… Like I care…
So… how did it work? It worked great at first, but after some time, I noticed that the colors were fading and eventually it seemed that the ink was so faint that it barely showed up. I was frustrated, and I sent a note to the company. They told me to give them a call during business hours. I spoke with a really helpful person who showed me exactly what to check, and in the end, we found the issue, and it was MY fault.
There are some air vents on the top of each ink cartridge, and you need to unplug the stopper at the top of each tank. If you don’t, the airflow will be blocked. If the airflow is blocked, picture someone holding their thumb over a straw and pulling it out of a soft drink. The water stays in the straw, just as my ink was staying in the hoses. As soon as we unplugged the vents, it worked great! Instantly, my pictures were again vibrant.
Over the past few years, I’ve printed countless shipping labels, photos, and other various documents. The printer works like a champion, and it’s so nice to not have to worry about filling up the cartridges. After a few years of lots of printing, including both my wedding and my brother’s wedding invitations, I’m finally now needing to refill the tanks. I ordered a black ink refill kit, and as you can see in that pic above, I should probably get the color refill kit as well.
I’m really happy with my purchase from Inkproducts.com. One piece of feedback would be to make the instructions slightly more clear. Little things like changing the bullet points to numbers and adding check-boxes so people can check off steps as they go could go a long way.
Do you need to be an engineer to install this? No… not completely… However, I do think the kit is a bit too advanced for a completely non-technical person. If you have a need for this, get your family geek to install it for you.
If you go through a lot of ink cartridges, I recommend picking up a CIS. Not only is it satisfying and convenient to never have to think about ink, it’s also a greener solution. You’re not constantly buying disposable ink cartridges. There are some CIS systems at different places on the internet like Amazon, etc, but I like Inkproducts.com, as they have shown good customer service over the years and a willing to help their customers.
The package from InkProducts comes in a pretty boring brown box, and inside, you’ll find the continuous ink system and a manual.
First thing’s first… There is a bit of installation required for this kit! You may be surprised by what needs to be done to get this fully installed and working properly. The manual is definitely necessary. To be honest, I feel like the manual should be a little bit better. I was able to get things figured out easily. But if I were not a techy already, I think I would have a really difficult time. For example, one of the more difficult things that needs to be done with this installation is the removal of microchips off of the authentic HP ink cartridges and putting these chips into a plastic retainer that Ink Products calls the “chip block.” This is actually a pretty ingenious idea. This keeps the printer from telling you that your ink is not authentic. However, the process to do this is a bit complex. You have to use a razorblade (I used a safety pin) to pry these flexible microchips off the ink cartridges. They just referred to these as “chips” and called the place where I was supposed to put the chips the “chip block.” I just think the manual could better describe things, telling people EXACTLY what the “chip block” is, why they need to remove these chips, and how to do it.
In any case, I didn’t find installation that difficult, but if you’re not a technical person, you may find it impossible. I’m just giving fair warning.
When the most recent iPhones were released, I was conflicted, just as many others were. Should I go with the 6? Or should I go big and get the 6 Plus? As the preorder deadline loomed, I made a quick decision to order both. I would order the 6 Plus through T-Mobile with their Equipment Installment program. I would order the regular sized device through Apple. I checked both return policies, and I was comfortable with them.
The purchase strategy worked just fine. I got both devices. I played with them both, and I decided that the 6 Plus was a bit too big for me. I read the return policy for T-Mobile, and I called them up to get a return label printed. There was no issue, and I dropped off the item for shipment at a UPS Store on October 4, 2014.
I waited a few days, expecting my refund to post soon. After a week or so, I called T-Mobile.
I spoke to a friendly woman on the phone, and she advised me to read the return policy more closely. It turns out that it takes two billing cycles before a refund can be processed to an account. I checked the return policy. You have to do a lot of digging, but eventually you can find this:
Yup. The policy says it takes two billing cycles. That’s a bit crazy to me. Can you imagine returning a product to Best Buy and then having them tell you that in 60 days you will get a refund? The even more annoying part about this is that T-Mobile charges you a monthly Equipment Installment Plan (EIP) fee for you to pay off your device. Even though I have returned the item, when my bill comes, I still need to pay the fee until they recognize the refund. Once the refund is issued, the EIP payments get credited back.
While I was annoyed, rules are rules. I should have read more carefully. After two billing cycles passed, I still didn’t have my refund, and when I logged into my account on the T-Mobile website, there was no mention that the phone had been received, even though I still had all of the tracking information that showed the phone had been delivered.
On December 16, 2014, over two months after I returned the device, I called T-Mobile to check the status of the refund. I spoke with a gentleman who was quite friendly, and he began to research my issue. He said he thought he had figured things out and that I should be hearing from T-Mobile within 72 hours. PROGRESS!
72 hours passed. I heard nothing. I let the holidays pass, and I called again on December 29, 2014. When I called, I spoke with a man named Darion, and he was pretty friendly as well. He indicated that “we were going to get this resolved,” and then he asked me to just wait a moment. All of a sudden, someone else picked up. I was transferred to a new person. The new person may have been from a different department, and the new employee had no idea what my call was about.
Time to start over. I expressed to Belinda how displeased I was with the service. I told her I didn’t want to pay the restocking fee, as I didn’t believe that T-Mobile was following their own policy by delaying the refund for so long. She spent a long time looking through my account, and it seemed like she really had no idea how to get my refund. I could tell she wanted to help, but she wasn’t getting too far. She finally came back and said that she saw that a few days earlier, a “handset research form” had been submitted. Apparently this is the form that makes someone go look for the device you returned. I wasn’t confident they would be able to find a small iPhone box months after they had received it. I gave her my tracking number again, letting her know that the phone was signed for and received by T-Mobile. She said she was going to submit a fresh form. After 33 minutes on the phone, she gave me a reference number. She said I would hear something with in 72 hours.
72 hours passed. Nothing.
Then on January 4, 2015, I got an e-mail from T-Mobile. Was this going to be the end of all my pain, in one beautiful confirmation e-mail?? Opening the e-mail yielded a surprise:
“Thank you for taking the time to contact T-Mobile. Unfortunately we are unable to process your request with the information that was provided. Please contact Customer Care by dialing 611 from your handset or by calling 1-800-937-8997 if further assistance is needed.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?
I called back later that day. I spoke with a gentleman named Trent. Again, Trent was quite friendly, and he felt really bad about the situation. He kept telling me that he was going to “take care of me.” I told him I wanted to speak to a supervisor, and he told me one would reach out to me within 24 hours. Nevertheless, he appeared to be making some type of progress, finishing the call by saying, “You have a wonderful night. We’ll get this taken care of. The back office should start the refund process tomorrow.” Really? Finally?
24 hours passed. No supervisor reached out to me. Then… I got two consecutive e-mails!
Oh sweet Jesus! Here it comes! I waited 48 hours for my EIP charges to credit, but when I logged into my T-Mobile account, it still showed the full amount.
On January 8, I called up T-Mobile again. I spoke to a friendly woman, and she told me that she saw that things had been returned so she had to put in a supervisor’s note to get the charges adjusted. She told me that in a couple days things would be reflected.
On January 10, my bill still looked the same. I called up T-Mobile, and I spoke to a woman who told me I had a pending credit, that I needed to pay my bill in full now, but that on my NEXT billing cycle, the credits would hit, and all would be well. It turns out, she was right.
In the end, I got my refund. It took me FOUR MONTHS. Am I an outlier? It doesn’t appear that way. As a Reddit geek, I browse the T-Mobile section at least once a week. How about these gems?
I’m not alone. T-Mobile is supposed to be the consumer-friendly uncarrier. How can a multi-month return process be consumer friendly? If there were a sound logistical reason, I would understand. But on the flipside, I think this drawn out return policy adds a lot of risk. They should issue a refund as soon as they receive a device and confirm that it is in good working order. By waiting so long, you get situations like mine or like the ones I linked to where phones can’t be found and handset research forms need to be submitted. T-Mobile, fix your business processes for the mutual benefit of your company and your customers!