Ten ways your printer can ruin your day

By: John Sollars

Date: 6 April 2011

Printers: Laser or inkjet, every business has one. They're essential and, to be fair, they behave themselves most of the time. So why, when you come to print something important, do you know full well that your printer is going to play up?

Here are ten ways your printer can ruin your day, plus one that seems unique to me.

  1. Printer ink is low. You installed a new cartridge a week ago and haven't used it since. How can it possibly be low? Maybe it's because the printer purges all four cartridges each time you clean a nozzle. It feels like a get-rich campaign by cartridge makers.
  2. You can't print in black and white, because you've run out of colour. You only want to print an important letter. So why does it matter that you don't have any yellow ink left?
  3. When empty isn't empty. Dear Mr. Printer, it's great that you let me know when you'd run out of ink. I just wish you'd waited until the cartridge actually was empty. Yours, the owner of ink-stained clothing / carpet / other ruined items.
  4. Paper jams. Some days you can get a paper jam even when no paper is loaded. Now that is one heck of a jam! And it usually means poking around inside your printer until the error message goes away.
  5. No paper at all. If you used the last piece of paper in the printer, you'd replace it, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, not all office staff are so considerate. But don't fret; the printer will queue up all print requests ready for a print-fest once new paper is loaded.
  6. Update your printer driver. Surely in today's plug-and-play world, your printer driver should be able to update itself. No? Ok, but at least the manufacturer will have released a new driver for the latest operating system? No? Sigh.
  7. Phantom printer. 'No printer detected'? Well, how come it appears in my list of printers? And in my devices list? Anyway, I can see from here that it's plugged in to my computer. Only one solution: the hammer.
  8. My borderless print has a border. Why come with a borderless setting if, in actual fact, it's not borderless? False hope is not endearing. Be honest and say you'll 'print with 0.5cm border'.
  9. Randomly-changing paper size, orientation and scaling. You're almost certain you tried to print an email on A4 paper in size 12 font. So why has it come out at 6" x 4" in huge letters? Oh, right, the default settings have changed in that single piece of software.
  10. Why does restarting only fix things for five minutes? If you're going to break, at least have the decency to malfunction properly. Printing a few pages before you have to restart again is not helpful.

However, my favourite error is this last one. Maybe it's just me. I send a print job to my new Epson printer, as shown here:

Printer showing in dialog box

Does it print? Not exactly. Instead, I get this wonderful message:

Microsoft mouse error message

I don't know why this happens, and haven't managed to fix it yet. Maybe I should try sending the print job to my mouse.

John Sollars is MD of Stinkyink.com

What are your humourous or frustrating printer problems?

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