Epson messes up my day

Ink Out

My Epson Stylus Photo R1800’s been running low on ink in a couple of cartridges for a few days now. I’ve been putting off ordering them until this weekend. Now I find that when the printer believes a cartridge has reached 0%, it won’t print anything at all, even if it doesn’t need that colour. Users (i.e. me) are forced into buying new cartridges at a time when they don’t actually need them in a pathetic exercise of Epson’s control. Workflow is interrupted, plans out of the window.

So now, in order to print something important which needs to be done this afternoon, I am going to have to get on a train and go into a local town, wasting a couple of hours of my life and resulting in entirely unnecessary energy usage and carbon emissions. That’s relatively easy for me: I live next to a railway station. But in areas of the world where it isn’t convenient or possible, how can such thoughtless design be tolerated? Printers a few years ago allowed you to keep printing until the cartridges were actually empty. You knew when to stop because you could see.

Hey Epson: if you push your customers around, they’ll walk away. Forever. It’s as simple as that. People’s time is precious. Convenience is important. There’s no way I’ll ever buy another Epson product or recommend them to anyone else. And I’m a techy guy: occasionally, people do ask my opinion on products. (Of course I’m going to buy cheap refill cartridges; ultimately I may have to get a continuous ink supply system)

Yeah, it’s a rant; it’s also a pathetic piece of design embodying absolute contempt for the customer.

Bad design

(Sadly the SSC Service Utility mentioned a few months ago doesn’t seem to allow the ink levels to this particular printer to be re-set, though it’s undoubtedly of great use on other models.)


  1. Francis

    This is one of my pet hates, and it’s not just Epson that does this. If my black ink runs out, then I should be able to print using the colour ink and vice versa. There really is no excuse for a printer to stop working if one out of two cartridges stops working. If I could find a printer manufacturer that didn’t behave in this way, I’d buy one of their products in a shot. So far, I’ve not managed it.

    • Joanna Woodward

      Yes it is foul manipulation most evil everyone should know that even my R265 Printer will not print even if only say the blue ink is very low and the black replaced and I bought this printer on the premise that I would not have this problem with this printer.

  2. Dan

    I’d like to know too, Francis if you find a modern printer with that behaviour. I did have an old Hewlett-Packard Deskjet 320 which only had space for one cartridge (colour OR black) – it used C, M & Y to make a murky grey-brown kind of black. But that’s about it.

    Perhaps my rant in the above post is a little overblown, but it completely interrupted my plans for the day, and that annoys me.

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  4. Manufacturers may simply be obsessing that in no circumstances may they ever permit any printing if there’s the slightest avoidable risk that substandard results may occur.
    I expect they will introduce a new override button for you – however, it will attempt to print a watermark over the output, e.g. “Ink Cartridge Depleted!”

  5. Dan

    This is a comment from an anonymous poster whose comments keep getting trapped by the spam filter – for some reason, I can’t get the software to ‘un-spam’ it succcessfully, so I’m re-posting it manually:

    Crosbie Fitch, are you honestly that naïve? They do this not to stop substandard results — they could care less — but so that instead of buying a refill of a color as often as you deplete one on average, you buy them as often as you deplete the one you use the most. You throw some unused ink (of colors you use less often) away and they make more money. It’s that simple.

    Advice: if it actually monitors ink levels, just refill the empty one you’re not using with water or whatever. If it predicts when it’s empty or has an expiration date or some other such BS, hack it. If hacking it won’t work, scrap it.

  6. Chuck Roast

    FWIW, My Canon i860 has been complaining about an empty magenta cartridge for some time now but it’s happy to print black and white documents.

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  8. cam

    I am as angry as I have been in a long time. My Epson stylus cx5000 has just stopped me twice in one day to replace color cartridges when I have always had my printer set for black only. I have found out now after the window of returnabality at office depot has closed that even when I print in black only, the printer cleans the color heads into a diaper. No one offered that info when I bought it and I talked long and hard to the salesman when I bought it. I have spent sixty dollars on color cartridges that I have not used. I have never believed in pirating or infringing on intellectual property but this is not inellectual. This is pure and simple pillaging of my resources and I will not let it happen. I am going to hack. I am going to look for a class action suit to join against Epson. I am going to tell everyone I know. I am going to promise support to the first printer company that will build their own refillable printer well. Somebody is going to make millions by doing this. We need a publicly owned printer protocol like an old Ford Tractor with lots of replaceable parts that will run forever. I will not apologize for my rant. I am angry enough to make a project out of this.

  9. Anonymous Poster

    i have the same problem with my epson cx3500. it is only the printer driver which is the problem. if there is some hack out for the driver, you will be able to print with the cartridges which have ink. hurray to lexmark and canon, they let you print without other cartidges installed (if black is) in b&w.

  10. Angela Chadwick

    Glad I’ve taken a look here.
    I have spent hours trying to figure out why my printer wont work. I am trying to print a letter. I now see the reason it wont print is because my Magenta Cartridge is emply – I mean who writes a letter in Magenta? That said I don’t know how my colour cartridges run out in any event because I rarely print anything in colour. This is a mystery!

  11. salehin

    because there is a stupid cleaning cycle programmed each time you turn on your printer. the printer clean the head each time you turn it on. and this causes color loss. @ Angela Chadwick

    I got a Epson C59. and I cant reset the ink cartridges with the SSC utility 4.30.
    It would be very helpful if anyone can tell me step by step what and how to do it.

    help plz. anyone.

  12. jason z

    I can’t say for sure if all Canon’s behave nicely, but my 4200 will print B&W if a color tank is dry. I believe it even gives you the opportunity to continue printing a document in progress if a tank runs out during the print cycle, though it warns you that you might damage your printer by doing so.

  13. Roni Zogrus

    I have the same problem, I think EPSON uses this as a "revenue spreading strategy" something like the software licensing fee, but at a more primitive, rubbish level. I’d join action against EPSON, i feel cheated after buying a Stylus DX7400, cartriges run out accurately once a week with very little printing, cost a fortune to replace and printer won’t pring with just the cartridges it needs. What a SCAM, never buy EPSON products!

  14. ty

    I have got an epson c46 printer and suffer the same problems as you guys are getting, but i’ve had this printer for 4 yrs now and while its very cheap on ink refills £ 12 for both carts then im happy putting up with it. my main use is for document printing only and have a hp printer for doing the photos.

  15. John (who now hates Epson)

    I am well f*/ked off now with my printer!!!! Two of my colours ran low and was unable to replace them for over a month due to money problems. When I finally replaced them I replaced all but the black as they were nearly all low apart from the black which was half full. For some strange reason after changing all the other colours the black would not print at all. After running the cleaning cycle several times all of my new colours had run to 1/4 full and there was still nothing with the black. I switched it all off and came back to it 1 day later. Run a print job through it and the black was printing again but missing some lines, so I once again run the cleaning process… next the black ink ran out!!! I then went and bought another one to which the printer told me was incompatible!!! I then turned off all power and switched it back on again, the black was now working but the blues were now missing lines!!! So I ran another nozzle clean and now the printer is telling me 4 of my new colours have run out of ink!!!!! I will never but another Epson ever again, I’ve just wasted £30 on ink and have got nowhere… What a rip off..

    I don’t understand why when running a cleaning cycle it has to use ink on the colours that aren’t defective, also why tell me that the ink has run out when previously there were no signs of it fading.. plus why stop me from using the printer altogether when just one colour has run out. This printer although new is headed for the skip… And I am not a happy chap…

    Epson.. you suck bug time.

  16. Epson is completely rubbish. I have a C64 and the same problems, even with the SSC service utility which used to work. Completely fed up and hate Epson will never buy another.
    Epson please read this and take notes … you seriously need to do something about this, if you don’t I hope you go out of business!

  17. Mike Lynch

    Just hit the same problem myself – how frustrating! And I totally agree, it is very bad design.

    There is a utility “SSC Service Utility” which allows you to re-program the ink counters in your epson printer. Unfortunately my model is not supported, you might have better luck though.


  18. Dawn

    Oh— EpsonCX7400– what a scam. I keep buying and buying ink, and I never use it. I just keep feeding my printer with color ink so it will print in black and white! I did just discover that if I take the cartrige out and shake it really good and put it back in, it will sometimes register as having ink. I guess the catriges themselves are also part of the scam!
    Never again will I get taken by Epson!

  19. Anonymous

    I was hoping to find a way to circumvent this problem here but I see the Epson owners share my contempt and anger. It’s 11pm and I need documents printed for work tomorrow! Hey Epson, eat my ass!!!!

  20. John

    I’ve found a solution to dampen my Epson headache somewhat. Go on Ebay and buy a resetter (kind of what Mike Lynch mentioned) This small device connects to the chip on an ink cartridge and will reset the ink level.

    Even if your cartridges become empty you can use them when you run a cleaning cycle to save ink that doesn’t have to be wasted, just keep the defective colour in the printer.

    Also on Ebay are loads of people selling cheap ink, I got 2 complete sets of six colours (for R265) paid and delivered to my home within days for less than £20, this saved me over £40!!!!

    I’ve now got my printer up and working again!!

    Good luck

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  22. Doug in Lewes

    Reset your empty cartridge with this piece of hardware that resets the chip

    The chip measures what ink is used rather than what’s in the cartridge and gives a calculated figure for the cartridge.

    It’s really useful if a cleaning cycle uses the last of one colour cartridge and you just want to print a text document in black.

    But do remember that the cleaning cycles will eventually exhaust the cartridge completely if you reset the chip.

  23. Nick

    I will never, ever buy another Epson product, even if i live to 100. Im going to throw away mine right now and get a NON Epson one. This type of resource rape should be made illegal, i believe a colour printer should print more than 10 pages before screaming at you that its empty when it obviously is not. Epson has ensured that it will go bust in the next few years. Bye Epson, and good riddance.

  24. Kandy Garner

    I can’t get my Epson CX7400 to print letters in color. Can anyone help me with this? My printer is new.

  25. Ay Uaxe

    Just tried to start using a Lexmark x2580 all-in-one I got with a notebook at Circuit City and discovered it didn’t ship with a black cartridge and despite running on generic x2500 series drivers, won’t work with generic/genuine Lexmark x2500 series cartridges. I demands not only that I buy Lexmark #2 and #3 cartridges, but also that I buy them solely at Circuit City. Apparently there is a EU seller with a similar monopolistic deal with Lexmark. This smacks of anti-trust, unfair business practices, restraint of trade and good ol’ illegal “tying”. I’d like to sue the bastards, but would rather just find a way to hack this unjust crap. Already tried using another generic Lexmark printer driver, to no avail. Any tips anyone?

  26. Ink Chip haters,
    I reverse engineered the ink-chip protocol for the epson 2100p in 2002 and published the details.
    I made a little circuit to reset the chips (sort of) in the printer so I could build a CIS (fake chips were available then).

    Even so I had a lot of trouble with the chip sockets. This resulted in the printer being broken for 4 years and requiring a head replacement and other parts.

    I was so sick of chip problems that I eliminated them by programming a micro-controller to supply the printer with data as if it was coming from ink-chips – I hacked into the printer mother-board to do it.

    I realize this is a bit beyond most people but if you are curious the project is here –


  27. Mike C

    OK, been through this. The printer only draws 3 watts on standby, (stylus c64), thats 365 days x 3 watts = 1 unit of elec/year. I leave the printer switched on so it never does a cleaning cycle. If I have a problem with a cartridge I press the cartridge button for access and remove the cartridge. I tap it gently (very gently) on some clean paper to make sure there is ink and then replace it. The printer then goes through the cleaning cycle but only on the one cartridge. Every cleaning cycle it dumps ink in its internal waste tank. When the tank is full the printer declares itself broken. I’m sure wasting 1.095 Kw/h is more planet friendly than premature scrapping of the printer.

  28. Mike C

    Doh! multiply the power by 24 hrs in the day… so 26 Kw/h and I pay about 10p per unit so £2.60 a year.

  29. hanneke

    HATE IT. HATE IT. I HATE my epson DX4000 for all the reasons mentioned above. Glad I found some mental support here. Good luck fellow victims. And to everyone: do yourself a favour, do not buy an epson printer!!

  30. trash it

    I always used epsom because you stood for cheaper better printing with separate colour, no cartridges restriction run to the end no waste print in black if no colour as on my old one so just went out and got your dx7400 all in one, drink ink like theirs no end to it, your cartridges restrictions are to much you have to have epsom cheaper ones don’t work because you try to stop it and profit rule ok so thanks, but no thanks,
    will never recommend epsom or buy one again this one cost £49.00 cheap you may say yes well in the bin it goes after going to w h smiths and buying two cartridges the black set costs £29.99 who’s taking the Mickey one more old fan of epsom gone.

  31. epson hating society

    at last i feel good, its not only me who is spending half thier life just waiting for the printer to work. i have the dx4000 which has done hardley any work used ink like you have never known. it has now decided to stop feeding paper through, and i cant even use the scanner because guess what, if it wont feed the paper, then it thinks there is no paper in it, and for some strange reason it needs paper in it eventhough you want to scan directly to the hard drive… multifunction headache….

  32. Chris

    Epson produce good printers for which even high quality clone carts are very cheap. The safeguards are there for the protection of the printheads as completely drying these out can damage the head irreversibly. Other manufacturers don’t necessarily have the same restriction because the carts contain the printhead but this makes the carts very expensive. So make a choice guys – pay up for expensive carts and be happy with your HP/Canon/Lexmark or work within the safeguards of an Epson and enjoy cheap supplies. Oh and Mike C makes a very valid point – if you don’t turn the printer off you are saving yourself money and helping the environment as the printers tend to go through a clean cycle at switch on. I’ll stick with Epsons and Jet Tec cartridges any day.

  33. rosetta

    My problem is the paper jam. there is no jam. Sooooo, it changes to no paper loaded. I get so frustrated that this old woman tries to pick it up and throw it on the floor. I,ve tried filling it with one sheet, 10 sheets, and so on. Does anyone have an answer. Needless to say, I don’t to want to buy another one.

  34. Epsom Dx7400 eats ink like news paper press So bought a compatible cartidges only to find those clever Epsom guys stop them working. This a peice of crap design that does not allow you to print when ink is low or not even required when printing in black. This is pure rip off customer design Would not recommend anyone buy one

  35. DeltaTango

    Same problem here with my R1800. It’s 12:12 AM and I need a printout for tomorrow morning. My Photo Black cartridge is alegedly empty, so I’ll lose a $95 refund because this piece of CRAP won’t allow me to print!

    I will never, never, NEVER buy Epson again!

    And Chris, stop apologizing for Epson. This is a scam, pure and simple. Allowing people to print with 7 cartridges instead of 8 will have NO EFFECT on the print head.

    Epson can kiss my ass.

  36. Ian in Drumnadrochit

    I have exactly the same problem. My DX7400 is set to print black only, but the cyan is depleting faster than the black if you can imagine that. I’ve had this printer about eight months and have spent sixty pounds on ink in that time. It is a complete and utter scam and I am going to have to throw away a completely new printer.

  37. Vincent G

    Just bought SX 405, All inks ran out fairly soon replaced each at intervals with compatibles, The Blue printed badly so been advised by local ink supplier to clean heads at least 10 times. This has apparently now made the cartridges just renewed to use up all ink and I am back where I started. Is EPSON run by the Mafia?
    They appear to have used the best of diabolical tricks to force consumers to purchase vast ammounts of ink without any balanced functional return for the consumer.
    Just as the above stories it was good so see a am not alone.
    The printer will be scrapped, total cost to date is £79 and inks about £30.
    Is there a plan to sell only once to an unsuspecting customer?
    There should be some form of boycott on their products.
    But as they say you can’t fight city hall…perhaps?

  38. stephen

    I have an epson dx7400 I was pleased with the print quality and have for 8 months been using generic cartidges(3 or 4 sets) But in Dec 08 I connected it to Internet and now informed over and over all carts are not compatible and empty, even though they are full of Ink! I am certain that the connection to the internet (and of course Epsons site)has caused this. I will not have anything to do with this abominable company again!!! (and all that garbage about special ink and heads etc Its just a scam to make more money)

  39. Ian in Drumnadrochit

    Since my last blog, I have hit on the idea of putting a folder on my desktop entitled ‘Print Jobs’ into which I put all my work for printing and then only actually print when one becomes urgent. This seems to have slowed down my ink consumption a little. If only EPSON had told me that continual switching on and off would consume excess ink I could have done this from the start.

    But then, they wouldn’t, would they!

  40. Ian in Drumnadrochit

    Incidentally, I wrote to Epson seven weeks ago complaining about this but have not had the courtesy of a reply. It just shows their attitude towards those of us who have been stupid enough to buy their money consuming rubbish.

  41. Norm in Oregon

    I wish I had found this site before buying a Epson printer. 6 weeks ago I bought a R280 after printing less than 15 or 16 titles in black only on white CD.s it said it was out of Light Magenta and Light Cyan. I knew that was impossible as I had not printed anything in color. Contacted Epson and was give the pat reply of ,”it will use a small amount of color ink everytime it is turned on.” Contracted them again asked if that is the case why is it not out of black ink? Giver the same reply. Put each cartridge on a gram scale and all 5 of the color cartidges weighted the same, the black was less. Contacted Epson again and gave them that info so they then told me that I had defective ink cartridges ( only 6 weeks old mind you) Bought the two new cartridges and when I turn it on not only did it say that the new Liaght Magent and the Light Cyan were empty but now it is saying that the yellow is empoty as well. So, I have begun looking on every blog I can find and posting this info in hopes that nobdy will get burned like we have been.

  42. Ian in Drumnadrochit

    Sorry to hear of the trouble you are having, Norm. It really is a massive scam but I have managed to slow down my consumption by only turning on the printer when I really need it. But it should not be like this, should it? A couple of days ago I had to insert the card from my camera to download some photos I needed urgently for a powerpoint presentation, so I wasn’t printing – but I could hear the cartridges being initialised. Totally wrong – and EPSON refuse to admit perpetrating a con on their customers. I’ll stick with it a bit longer but it is the last EPSON I will ever buy!


  43. This has really stumped me as well!

    Until recently I have been a happy user of Epson printers (I still have a Stylus R300 with a CISS that has been working away for a few years). However I recently recommended an Epson DX7400 to a friend and it has turned out to be a can of worms!

    The original cartridges went after a few pages, then we got branded replacements, only to still have it say that a colour wasn’t working. There was no way of ‘resetting’ the counter (with earlier/other Epsons you can use a tool here, unfortunately the DX7400 isn’t supported).

    Then purchased some ‘auto reset’ empty cartridges from eBay for the printer and filled with quality pigment based ink. Had the printer set to print B&W by default, the user has printed a small number of pages and now it is saying it is out of Magenta! The printer is left on most of the time (to limit the cleaning cycles). Now it looks like these ‘auto reset’ cartridges aren’t doing their job either!

    You can’t justify spending most of the cost of a new printer on a set of cartridges if they all get bled away in cleaning cycles!!!

    I will find it next to impossible to ever recommend an Epson printer again now. If anyone comes up with a good work around I’d love to know — post it up here and I’ll keep checking back every now and then.

    So if you are thinking of getting an Epson DX7400 then don’t! And maybe you should stay clear of all Epson printers… So what should we be using instead…

  44. Gary

    Yup…sounds familiar.

    I am doing things with my epson printers that I know that are guaranteed to cause problems…trying to make a home made flat bed printer…and I have been successful except for two things…proprietary stuff involving the print heads and the cartridges.

    I had to switch around a lot of carts while I was working on it, leading to “using ink” during charging cycles.

    I opened up a couple of the carts that I knew had a lot in it after all the changing.

    They were at least 90-percent full of ink, yet register as empty due to Epson’s really remarkably effective money grubbing activities.

    I wish I could get away from using them, but they seem to be the only reasonable way to get what I want to get done done.

    Hopefully SSC updates soon or I can find a service utility for the c120 and workforce 30…


  45. Rach

    I am having the same problem with the DX7400!!! I only want a black and white print and now having to write 4 A4 pages for my meeting very professional NOT! I AM THROWING THIS MACHINE OUT.

    HATE IT………..

  46. AL

    Damn EPSON! My CX4700 can’t print because it *believes* is out of ink! This is totally illegal what EPSON is doing. I had filed a complain against EPSON on Join me and file MORE complains on them. And write letters to the stupid a**hole CEO on this.

    Dump Epson products! NEVER buy them again!

  47. Ian in Drumnadrochit

    Further to my previous comments, I installed an 0712 Cyan [Epson’s own]on 4th March since when I have done 20 colour prints – none very dense. I now find that my Cyan is half depleted. Yes, that’s right -I have used half a cartridge and got 20 prints for it.

    It is absolutely diabolical.

    Ian J

  48. Ian in Drumnadrochit

    Further to my previous comments, I installed an 0712 Cyan [Epson’s own] on 4th March since when I have done 20 colour prints – none very dense. I now find that my Cyan is half depleted. Yes, that’s right -I have used half a cartridge and got 20 prints for it.

    It is absolutely diabolical.

    Ian J

    • Anonymous

      I recently changed my Cyan 0712 (original Epson at fullprice) because the printer said it was empty. Brand new cart & didn’t work either. Bought ANOTHER but that didn’t work.
      I don’t use this printer often but I DO know that it’s going to be cheaper to buy a new one than have this one looked at. I won’t be buying Epson again. The Kodak’s appear to be the thing now. Never mind, live & learn!!

  49. ray in angmering

    I have spent 35 minutes on the net talking to an engineer all to no avail.then 30 minutes on pay phone trying to find out how to print envelopes and was told, I have to go to lunch now, and after I will try on my printer and will ring back, yes, I am still waiting. I have an epson dx8450.can any one help please.

  50. Ikenna

    If anyone is searching to buy a printer PLEASE, PLEASE AND PLEASE AVOID EPSON PRODUCT. You will not be able to print with available colors if just one of the colors runs out. You will be forced to buy an ink cartridge to continue. I regret buying an Epson printer.

  51. Kat

    I TOTALLY AGREE! I will never buy an Epson again for the exact same reasons!

  52. Jeff

    Chalk me up as another one who TOTALLY AGREES. Epson is no longer on my buy list for my company. I have had nothing but issues with the Ink Nazis at Epson.

  53. Robert

    As of post time the only major inkjet mfr I’ve found that allows printing of grayscale while color ink is out is Lexmark. I called tech support for HP, Canon, & Brother and they all are just like Epson in their contempt for the customer. Please post your response if you found other worthy inkjet manufacturers.

  54. Robert

    Add Kodak to the black list. Just like HP, they require all cartridges to have ink or the print job will be blocked.

  55. Jack Calvert

    I am soooo annoyed at Epson and will never buy another of their products again! All i want to print is one page of text in black and white but i can’t because the cyan ink cartridge is empty! it gets worse, the cyan cartridge isn’t empty, if you shake it, it is nearly full! thanks epson for ruining my day…

  56. mark

    incredible sense of self absorbed entitlement here -WHO failed by not having enough cartridges? – Jeebus on a pogo stick – but dont stop with blaming an entire company for your silliness – blame God or your mother or Lindsay Lohan – much more reasonable, what?

  57. Lynn Usher

    Have to agree with all of the above. I rarely print anything at. I changed a cartridge last week and already the thing has stopped working due to ‘low ink’ which seems just not possible. We are talking 5-10 sheets of plain text here. I wish I had done my homework, I wish I had seen these comments earlier and I would say to anyone STAY AWAY FROM EPSON.

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