A few years back, when inkjet computer printers were newer, cartridges were a little pricey but consumers found that could buy ink in bulk and refill them, saving lots of money.
Printer makers quickly addressed that issue, programming their products so that only the cartridges they sold could be recognized and used in the printers. And those bulk ink sales virtually vanished.
Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling out a label maker for pulling the same stunt with its rolls of paper labels.
“A smart move for a Dymo 550 and (Dymo 5XL) owner is to throw it away and buy a competing model,” the organization reported. “Even after you eat the cost of your Dymo product, you’ll still save money in the long run.”
“DRM in paper is such an abysmal, abusive idea that we should all recoil from it. Dymo’s betting that people who get suckered into buying its latest models will shrug and take it. But we don’t have to do that. Dymo has lots of competition, and it is vulnerable to bad publicity. This is one of those rare moments where a terrible plan is being hatched and we have the chance to stake it through the heart before it can reproduce.”
The idea of locking customers permanently into buying consumables from the printer or label maker manufacturer is fine, the report said, “in theory.”
But then greed gets involved, EFF said.
“They’re not content to be one of many companies offering ink in a competitive market. Rather, they want to be your only ink supplier, and boy oh boy do they want to charge you a lot of money for it – up to $12,000 per gallon!
“No one would voluntarily pay $12,000/gal for ink that costs about $170/gal to manufacture, so the printer companies roll out an endlessly inventive bag of dirty tricks to force you to buy their $12,000/gal product, and keep you buying it, forever,” the report said.
Label makers, however, are thermal printers. They don’t use ink. They have a head that is made up of electrical elements that heat up thermoreactive paper to make those labels, the report said.
“Lacking ink, the label-printing market has been spared the kinds of shenanigans that plague the world of inkjets…until now,” EFF reported.
Dymo, which is part of a corporate empire that includes Rubbermaid, Mr. Coffee, Oster, Crock-Pot, Yankee Candle, Coleman, Elmer’s, Liquid Paper, Parker, Paper Mate, Sharpie, Waterman, X-Acto and more, jumped on an agenda to use RFID chips to “authenticate” the labels that go into its machines.
“This lets Dymo’s products distinguish between Dymo’s official labels and third-party consumables. That way, the printers can force their owners to conduct themselves in the ways that serve the interests of Dymo’s corporate owners – even when that is to the owners’ own detriment,” EFF said.
The report said other makers still allow a variety of brand names, some significantly less expensive than Dymo’s products, to be used.
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