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Epson printers lose CR recommendation

February 7, 2019

The OEM’s models have lost the recommendation of Consumer Reports (CR) over several reliability issues, which surfaced in a recent survey.

The survey of CR members covered around 100,000 printers, and also unearthed certain problems with some models from fellow OEM HP Inc. As a result, fourteen printers are losing the ‘Recommended’ designation in the CR rankings, including Epson regular and all-in-one inkjets, HP regular inkjets, and Samsung regular and all-in-one colour laser printers.

It is the first time that criteria such as brand reliability and owner satisfaction have been factored into CR’s Overall Scores for printers, alongside previous fields like print quality, speed, ink usage, and ease of use. The survey results are factored in alongside data collected from CR’s “extensive lab testing.”

Any printer receiving a ranking of Poor or Fair for predicted reliability is ineligible for a CR recommendation. CR has explained that with the latest criteria and survey results, some printers have moved up the rankings, but notably, several have gone in the opposite direction.

Maria Rerecich, Consumer Reports’ Senior Director for Product Testing, said: “There’s an opportunity for manufacturers to step up here. Some of the printers that are losing recommendations score highly in our performance testing. If manufacturers can improve the reliability of these products, their models should do quite well in our ratings.”

One of those quoted by CR is Arlin Huseman, a retired mechanic from Washington state, who complained that his Epson XP-830 all-in-one inkjet printer ran out of ink “after 40 or 50 pages,” well short of the 400-500 mark he was led to expect by Epson’s website. “The refills cost pretty close to $30 (€26.50), plus tax,” Huseman complained. “For 40 or 50 pages, that seems awful expensive to me.”

The survey took in 113,959 different printers, with many expressing frustration with their major branded machines. Epson, however, was robust in its defence of its printers.

“Epson does not believe that Consumer Reports’ findings accurately capture the performance and reliability of Epson printers and genuine ink,” said company spokesperson Merritt Woodward. “In fact, we believe that our sales growth reflects user satisfaction. Epson has always been committed to responding to and meeting the needs of consumers.”

Currently, 19 all-in-one inkjet printers are recommended by CR, which accounts for 80 percent of models purchased by members in 2017 and 2018. There are no CR-recomennded regular inkjet printers, although CR accounts for this by claiming that “that style of printer is much less popular,” accounting for just 2 percent of models bought by respondents.

Respondents were asked about their two newest printers, providing they had been bought new since 2011, and the reliability score was derived through a statistical model estimating how likely a brand/type of printer is to experience problems by the end of its fourth year of ownership – halfway through the typical expected lifespan.

The most common complaint was the cost and hassle of replacing ink cartridges, with 28 percent requiring a replacement “too often.” Brother all-in-one inkjets fared best in this regard, at 21 percent, with Kodak all-in-one inkjets the highest at 42 percent. HP regular and Epson all-in-one inkjets both averaged at 31 percent. Other problems highlighted were poor print quality, dropping network connections, or stopping working with third-party ink or toner.

Paper jams and misfeeds was another reported affliction, with around 10 percent of printers susceptible to this, according to the survey. One respondent, Michigan resident Zack Rubin, noted that his Hp regular inkjet was troublesome from the very beginning.

“Half the time the paper wouldn’t feed correctly,” he said, eventually discovering online that many other owners were experiencing similar crises. “I bought it because it was an HP printer, which I thought was a good brand, but this printer was clearly not well designed.” HP declined to comment on the CR survey results, regarding either its own models or those of its recently-acquired Samsung brand.

CR explains that “no inkjet printer brand earns high ratings for reliability from consumers, but some are more trustworthy than others. And many regular and all-in-one laser printers fare well for reliability, with some earning Excellent scores. Black-and-white laser models from Brother, Canon, and HP earn top marks for reliability, as do regular colour lasers from Canon and HP.”

CR also estimates the ownership costs over two years for every printer in its ratings, combining the cost price with those of consumables throughout its lifespan, and it adds that “when you consider the total cost associated with each model, laser printers may match or even beat many inkjets.”

“If you can afford to spend more up front, a laser printer is the best choice for many people,” says Rich Sulin, leader of CR’s printer testing programme. “That’s especially true when you factor in the reliability problems we’ve uncovered with inkjets.”

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