back to article BOFH: Where do you think you are going with that toner cartridge?

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns It is a great morning! The phone has not rung once (and not because the PFY has rebooted the phone server with a DBAN USB stick in it again), the aircon and security system are behaving, and outside the sun is shini- "What's he doing here?" I ask the PFY. "Who?" the PFY asks, getting up …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    Vengeance

    The best vengeance is the one that is entirely justified.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Vengeance

      Death by a thousand paper cuts.

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Vengeance

      Maybe the BOFH didn't like his toner voice...

      1. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: Vengeance

        You just have to drum it into them until they pickup their attitude.

    3. Frumious Bandersnatch
      Joke

      Re: Vengeance

      No, I think you'll find that he had a ragged right.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Devil

    Useful tool?

    Perhaps the BOFH should have used this "tool" to recoup some of their losses before giving him the ultimate ultimatum... Would have made a nice cliff hanger\two parter!

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    Too Often...

    The amount of crap we've thrown away over the years after staff thought they'd got a bargain is staggering.

    Boxes and boxes of franking machine labels, "Ten boxes were cheaper than five!" We used less than a box a year and they ended up in the bin as the machine was near end-of-life (the replacement used larger labels).

    "I got a great price on these fluorescent tubes!" For a box a month, every month, for a minimum of a year, when we probably needed less than a dozen tubes a year.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Too Often...

      One place I worked at, someone mis-ordered bog rolls. They wanted 100 rolls and got a 100 boxes of 100 each. They were probably still using them during the great bog roll shortage of Mar/Apr 2020!

      1. Grey_Kiwi

        Re: Too Often...

        At a place I worked - back in the 1970s - someone ordered 100m of Bowden inner cable (for pushbike brake cables), but the UK supplier shipped 100 drums of 1,000m to Auckland.

        The value of this far, f-a-r exceeded to entire national annual import quota for the whole 'Bicycle Part & Accessories' category.

        Eventually we put it on a barge and, under Customs supervision, dumped it in the ocean, as that was cheaper than shipping it back to the UK.

        :(

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Too Often...

          That's a ridiculous waste of resources.

          What was wrong with just storing it ?

          1. JimC

            Re: Too Often...

            Ultimately storage costs money, and there's also the import quota problem. Hey Mr/Mrs Prime Minister, lets have a new act of parliament to change the import quota for this year to deal with this ordering messup. We promise it won't happen again.

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              Yes, but it just so happens that the industry is relearning the value of putting money into storage in order to better manage supply chain shortages.

              We'll have another talk about this in ten years or so.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Too Often...

            "What was wrong with just storing it ?!

            Or selling it. That takes care of the potential return shipping cost. The purchase cost would have to have been written off anyway so it can be offered cheaply as it's then all profit. The original vendor, faced with the cut-price competition, will be less inclined to accept orders for unlikely looking quantities without checking.

            1. GrumpyKiwi

              Re: Too Often...

              NZ's economy at the time was HEAVILY managed. There were quotas for how much could be imported for any one category of the economy. These were written into regulation and law, hence the OP's comment on getting the government to change the regulation to allow the extra amount of wire in.

              All part of an attempt to control how much foreign currency left the country. At one stage you had to get permission from Treasury if you wanted to subscribe to a foreign magazine or newspaper that wasn't already available incountry - e.g. The Economist or NY Times - because you'd be sending $$dollars out of NZ.

              Needless to say, for the properly connected there were always many ways and means around such stupidity (e.g. spare parts were imported as "samples"), but the basics persisted throughout the 1970's and up until the 1984 election tossed such things out.

              1. DJSpuddyLizard

                Re: Too Often...

                I hear GB also used to have strict controls on currency, like this:

                https://archive.org/details/a_warning_to_travellers_TNA

          3. Marshalltown

            Re: Too Often...

            Space ... someone will want the space to store something actually useful. So, what happens is that instead of storing the mostly useless cable in a leaky shed, critical boxes of ducuments are selected by someone in charge of "space." The critical documents are ruined by damp, while the nice shiny cable that could be converted into garrottes remains there, safe and mostly useless.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Too Often...

        There are some things you can't get too big a stock of.

      3. Toni the terrible

        Re: Too Often...

        Who hasn't at least once failed to note mimimum box contents....

    2. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: Too Often...

      I've lost count of tte amount of electrical shit, usually from China and bought on eBay/Amazon, which staff have bought and I've had to condem or, if possible, "make safe" because they are a fire/electrocution risk:

      - No safey certification markings of any kind (CE/BS/UL).

      - No electrical power rating label of any kind.

      - Not supplied with a proper UK fused plug/lead.

      - Supplied with a "foreign" mains plug (usually with no fuse in) and a "death daptor" (also unfused) to allow it to be plugged into a UK mains socket.

      "Death Daptor" - see BigClive's very sobering examination of these hiddeous bits of Chinese shit:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESIzuV6kdWY

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB1DlBpyS9w

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: Too Often...

        I watched those videos. Second one I agree with - very poor design. The first one I really do think people should be taught the difference between possible and probable. As a ps anyone plugging in as demonstrated should be nominated for a Darwin.

        1. ITMA Bronze badge

          Re: Too Often...

          "The first one I really do think people should be taught the difference between possible and probable"

          For use at home, quite possibly.

          In a work environment lawyers and HSE could have a field day under The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 if someone were stupid enough to use one wrongly and there was nothing in place to ban them and find/remove existing ones.

          Last time I checked there are still no formal/academic qualifications which include good old "common sense".

      2. PM from Hell

        Re: Too Often...

        I bought a shed full (literally) of HP Inkjet printers for a County Council through a properly managed tender, we explicitly included the fact that they had to be UK spec with UK power supplies and Cables.

        We opened up the first box and sure enough it had an EU plug.

        We contacted the reseller who blithely suggested that we should 'pop to Tandy and buy UK spec leads'. I'm not sure our local electrical shop would have had 250 leads in stock but as the supplier was at fault I expected him to make good. He was very upset as he was now going to lose money on the sale (this is probably true as margins for resellers were only about 2-3%. I'm afraid my view was that wasn't my problem, he could come and collect the pallets of Printers and I'd buy from the second placed reseller or he could supply the right CE marked leads.

        Replacement leads would have cost us £625 and the difference in price between him and the 2nd placed company was £500 on a £40,000 deal, we were finding this was true for all hardware tenders at the time we'd run a tender for 1000 PC's and the top 3 bids would be within 4-500.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Too Often...

      Don't throw it away. Just make the department who ordered it responsible for storing it. It can become a landmark: "Down there on the right. You can't miss them, they have a five foot stack of US Letter paper.".

      1. VicMortimer
        Terminator

        Re: Too Often...

        But our poor BOFH was stuck with US Legal.

        It's the most useless paper size on the planet. You see, many years ago, the legal industry in the US stopped using it. Virtually all court paperwork that's still done on paper is now done with US Letter.

        You'll see the occasional old lawyer still use US Legal for wills. But it's mostly fallen out of fashion even for that, and other than wills (because many of them are old, and the only time a court sees them are after someone is dead and can't exactly do a new one) courts will no longer accept any filing on legal size paper.

        (Federal and many state courts won't accept paper filings for most things at all any more, they don't want to have to deal with the stuff. But they definitely don't want to have to buy the much more expensive special-size filing cabinets for US Legal paper. Most lawyers were very happy about it, because they don't want to buy the expensive filing cabinets either.)

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Too Often...

          I much prefer A4. Fold it in half, and you get A5 which has the same length to height ratio as A4. Or put two sheets side by side and you have A3, also with the same length to height ratio.

          1. Fifth Horseman

            Re: Too Often...

            That is the whole rationale behind the A paper system. For anyone that still lays out drawings by hand, it extends to the ISO standard tip sizes for draughting pens. You can scale a drawing between standard paper sizes, switch to the appropriate tip size, and amend the drawing with a constant line width.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Too Often...

          This side of the pond US paper sizes are only known as what misconfigured printers expect. Everything is in ISO sizes. Possibly BoJo will have us switching back to quarto and octavo if he lsts that long although in his case foolscap would be more appropriate.

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: Too Often...

            And the bloody printers always default to the ridiculous US letter size, the one almost nobody uses

            1. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: Too Often...

              i AM proud of no thumbs down, even the Americans realize printers are ridiculous. A solemn memorial day to you all in leftpondia

              1. Toni the terrible

                Re: Too Often...

                Are you looking Down from the North Pole or Up to it?

            2. Montreal Sean

              Re: Too Often...

              Here in Canada it seems that Xerox printers default to A4. We don't use the stuff, it's all either US Letter or US Legal.

              1. Martin-73 Silver badge

                Re: Too Often...

                AH, so they default to whatever is most useless, region specifically, clever

              2. Marshalltown

                Re: Too Often...

                Not to mention that when we install Linux and configure it, quite often we also need to tell the printer that, no, we use US Letter, not A4. All too often a newb will unwarily jump from installation to printing only to discover that the printed material is clipped at the left and right margins, but there's lots of room for notes at the bottom.

        3. Marshalltown

          Re: Too Often...

          US legal is still used for real estate documents and automobile purchase and contracts. I've long wonder how it became a standard. Another vanished standard was a paper required by US military and government which was an odd size slightly smaller than US letter, around 8-in. by 11, or 10.5. The US Forest Service even had manilla folders sized for it, and occasional government contracts would specify the format this was up into the late 1970s and early '80s. I believe it was referred to as US Government "letter" paper.

    4. Stu_The_Jock

      Re: Too Often...

      Franking machine manufacturer took sales inhouse, and started calling our existing customers offering to swap out their existing machines for a much lower monthly price... as no one told us it wasn't until customers complained their existing lease agreement invoices were still arriving did we find out the news sales chump had agreed to buy out their contract, but never checked details. One machine was 6 months into a 5 yr agreement... cost them an absolute fortune as even if the machines had nil cost they'd never recoup the buy out price.

    5. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Too Often...

      The last one is not so bad, in a public office and if you can do trading with other departments. For a private company? Nope.

  4. Maverick
    Pint

    perfect Friday

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We had the opposite ...

    We had an office in a building part-owned by a university, and had moved into a room which had previously been used by the university.

    And every month, some bloke would toddle up and drop off a ream of paper. And every month, we'd tell him that we were not part of the university, to which he'd shrug and leave.

    We ended up with a stack of boxes in one corner of the office; there's only so much that can be taken home for people's children to scribble on!

    We've since moved out of said office, and as far as I know, no-one has moved back into it. Which does make me wonder if perhaps there's an ever growing pile of boxes sat in front of the locked door...

    1. KarMann
      Alien

      Re: We had the opposite ...

      Ah, that tickled a memory. Babylon 5, the guarded flower. I think I've read some other story even more similar, but Babylon 5 is often the first thing that comes to mind for me.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      What makes you think it's still locked ?

      Paper has to be stored somewhere.

      1. pirxhh
        Coffee/keyboard

        In L-space, obviously.

    3. Ochib

      Re: We had the opposite ...

      Rincewind had one bucket of coal delivered per Job Title he had, as the famous wizzard has 19; he get 19 buckets per day, one for each role he fills--in the summer, his office is an inferno, since if he does not burn all his coal, he will receive no more--in line with Ridcully's order that to receive a replacement, one must use up all of the previous supply of anything

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: We had the opposite ...

        Of course that is in a fantasy world on the back of a giant turtle - in the real world there is no way that annual budgets would be based on such a ridiculous premise

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          You missed the troll icon (since we don't have a sarc icon).

  6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Thumb Up

    Superb episode once more!

    Nice extension of problems with windows installs (or database normalisation warnings) to printers

  7. Peter2 Silver badge

    Faced with this, I not only turned the machines off but put them in a service area on a floor of the building inaccessible to mere mortals who didn't have a key for the extra level in the elevator, courtesy of the landlords sympathetic site sparky.

    When an engineer turned up to service them and realised what I was doing they offered to let us finish the contract early with no penalty so they could lumber somebody else with them.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      That makes a change. They usually offer to "end the contract early if you take out a new one on some nice shiny kit!" Of course all they do is roll the remainder of the old contract into the new one.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        I think that somebody figured that they'd barely make the money back on the equipment on the minimum monthly payments, and with it being somewhere inaccessible and unconnected there was no prospect of it being used or any support calls being made leaving them with no prospect but just paying the lease payments, and being left with an old and near worthless MFD at the end of the contract.

        Evidentially somebody decided that they could make more by flogging it to somebody (or anybody) else.

      2. SVD_NL

        That makes a change from my usual experience, where they offer you a buyout that is basically as expensive as the remainder of the contract!

    2. ColinPa Silver badge

      Condemed

      My father was in the Royal Navy, and they had some kit which didn't work. He suspected the suppliers were going to pass it on to some unsuspecting person. He had a junior rating scratch "condemed" inside the machine, and left a phone number.

      A month later he got a phone call saying "we've just bought a new .... and when we opened it up, it had "condemed" - and your phone number.

  8. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Printers are the Devil's work

    This time the Devil laid down his fiddle at BOFH's feet for he knew that he was beat.

    1. Evil Scot
      Devil

      Re: Printers are the Devil's work

      The best that's ever been.

  9. Outski Silver badge
    Pint

    US Legal?

    The bastard! Deserves everything that's coming to him (from a great height)

    Friday ---->

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: US Legal?

      time to toddle off to ye olde pubbe and have a good onne?

      most definitely! With some pub grub.

      'ere, who gots the Boss's credit card?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ridiculous

    This is hardly believable. After all, "Printer Service Technicians" are a myth made up by the printer companies to sell service contracts, they don't actually exist.

    If they really existed, they'd actually send them when called, instead of just forwarding you youtube videos that consist of repeating the same steps you've already told them you've tried.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Ridiculous

      Or sending you out the 6 Horsemen of Unholy Consumption, for which you are charged, followed by a "free" replacement for the now deemed uneconomical to service device... it's free of course, because you've paid for it in the consumables that you've just been charged for and now can't use. The replacement is being shipped by City Limp and on a 48 hour delivery schedule (working days only which currently seems to be every third Monday). However their EU Mandated WEEE recycling van is round in 15 minutes flat to cart the old "dead" machine and accompanying consumables back to the warehouse.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous

        "However their EU Mandated WEEE recycling van is round in 15 minutes flat to cart the old "dead" machine and accompanying consumables back to the warehouse."

        I've seen the opposite. Went in to commission a new printer and not only was the old printer still there, left by the previous printer company, the one that had replaced was ALSO still there, from the SAME previous printer company. Both the old ones were twice the size, half the speed and twice the running cost of the one we had just put in. They should have billed the original supplier for storage as they were leased items.

    2. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: Ridiculous

      We do exist. Our purpose is to cast doubt on your paper storage, insinuating that it's the excess humidity in the office causing the paper to curl, and thus jam. If only you would buy our paper, paper storage box, and our specially formulated* Damprid, you wouldn't have any jamming issues, apart from how your users then load and handle the paper.

      *Normal stuff specially formulated to be 5 times the cost

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Ridiculous

        As a former print college technician, I can offer courses on manual paper handling, including paper fanning, for a mere snip at £1000 ex VAT per day for up to 6 attendees.

      2. Dave@Home

        Re: Ridiculous

        I first heard that humidity thing in the mid 90's when I was starting out, along with the 'using the sandpaper on a matchbox to roughen up the paper rollers' I figured out pretty quickly we were being taken for a ride by our "partners" at Kalamazoo

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: Ridiculous

          Humidity is actually a thing. University of Sydney (Australia) has a lot of old sandstone buildings, which absolutely love to soak up the water when it rains. Then, come Sydney summer, it steams out of the building and into the offices.

          They finally understood it was actually a thing, when we walked to one of their newer, non-sandstone buildings, grabbed a ream of paper from the printer in there, and took it back to the "always jamming" printer.

          One cheap plastic tub and box of damprid later, the printer stopped jamming.

          As for the pickup rollers, fuck the sandpaper. A small squirt of WD40 onto a rag, and give them a clean. It will rejuvenate the rubber, and get rid of the paper dust clogging the tread. It will leave marks for the first few pages, so run a few tests before printing something important.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ridiculous

      They may be rare, but they do exist - and the good ones are very very good.

      Many years and plenty of jobs ago, we had a printer service tech who worked for HP. He showed an interest in what we, PC support techs, were doing. So we employed him.

  11. Hot Diggity

    Hmmmm

    I suspect that this printer driver when encountering Windows is about to see the Blue Screen of Death.

    Just after a spectacular crash.

    1. bpfh Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      I think his van had the shattered windscreen of death...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Hmmmm

        The BS 10125 OD?

  12. Dabooka

    We had a copier engineer once...

    ...who argued we had the wrong unit. HIs paperwork had a different serial number to the one on the device and he refused the service. It went on for weeks and weeks. I had to call them up about it (and I'm nothing to do with the IT, just happened to be the office manager) and even on the phone they were adamant it was the wrong machine.

    'That's for a college in Stockton' they said, 'Have you moved the machines around without telling us?'

    'No' says I, 'for although we too are a college we are different institutions and have absolutely nothing to do with each other'

    'Are you sure you're reading the serial number correctly?' they respond.

    'Yes. Is it possible I do actually have this machine in front of me and your records are mixed up, or are you suggesting I just happen to have randomly read out a matching serial number for a machine that matches that of a different college you supply?' Which sounds more plausible to you?'

    I even had to take a photo and email it. To this day I still remember the Fujitsu PoS and the plate beneath the glass.

    Oh, and their asset tag matched up, just the serial number was recorded incorrectly.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: We had a copier engineer once...

      We had something similar once. I told them I accepted their contention that their extremely valuable printer had never been delivered, but we had another one just like it here they were disclaiming ownership of, and since they were a) in breach of contract because we didn't have the printer they were supposed to provide and b) they were in the business of renting them out, would they like to buy it from us?

      Sadly, the numpty I was speaking to had to get the purchase order signed off by someone with a vaguely-working brain, who called me back to apologise and correct their asset register.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: We had a copier engineer once...

        Had that with a certain 3 letter word cable ISP in the UK

        We don't service your address.

        There is a box with your name moulded in it and a coax cable coming out of the wall

        Nothing to do with us.

        OK, I have in my hands a PATT tester with a 5kv insulation test. If I were to hook it up to the bit of cable that is nothing to do with you - you wouldn't mind?

        Er, can i take your address again

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: We had a copier engineer once...

          something wrong here. I'm not convinced a customer disservice drone would understand any of the terms "PATT tester", 5kv" or "insulation test".

          1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: We had a copier engineer once...

            Believe it or not, even today not all ISPs outsource their customer facing operations. I work as a remote tester for a rather large (global) telecom/ISP, and when you call to report an outage you could very well find yourself speaking to me directly. If the circuit you're reporting is one of my deppartment's circuits, then as soon as you get your ticket I'll be the one working on it.

            I'm sure it won't be long before my job is outsourced as what I work on has become legacy tech and customers are being moved to the new juice, but at least I'm close enough to retirement age that I won't care when it happens. Just give me a sack of cash and a year's medical insurance like the last place to lay me off, and I'll grab my jacket and be on my way.

        2. Potty Professor Bronze badge
          FAIL

          Re: We had a copier engineer once...

          Not IT, but very dangerous. We moved into a house that had a gas supply to a shelf above the kitchen door, where presumably the gas meter used to be. The current gas meter was in a cupboard under the stairs, with all of the gas plumbing correctly connected. I decided to remove the dead pipe from the kitchen, but when I loosened the blanking cap, gas issued out, so I hastily retightened it. I phoned the gas supplier and asked them to come and disconnect the pipe from the main, only to be told that their records indicated that it had already been disconnected, and any pressure inside was probably caused by corrosion inside the pipe.

          I loosened the cap again to let the pressure out (after opening the kitchen door to allow the gas to escape), and waited for the hissing to stop. It didn't. I rang the gas company again, who were adamant that I was mistaken. I then said "So you wouldn't have any objection to my connecting my central heating boiler to that pipe, then?" There was a gas fitter round to my house within half an hour to cut off this unmetered supply. Should have kept my mouth shut :-(

          1. wegie

            Re: We had a copier engineer once...

            Our gas supply went into the meter, so when we redid the kitchen, we put in a lovely gas range to replace the hideous 70s electric hob that had reduced me to tears on more than one occasion.

            It took us over two years of back and forth to persuade BG that the meter actually existed and that we were using gas supplied from it. We quoted the serial number: nope, that meter has been decommissioned. We sent them pictures. We sent them photocopies of the Corgi/gas safe technician's paperwork certifying that the meter was in working condition when the cooker was connected. We sent meter readings. Eventually, they admitted that the meter existed, but despite the meter readings, wrote off the bill for the two years of gas supply (bet they wouldn't do that now)!

            1. Martin-73 Silver badge

              Re: We had a copier engineer once...

              Have had the same with electricity supply. One customer of ours had an old fashioned twisty dial meter labelled property of the southern electricity board. From the day he moved in to the day he moved out, (6 yrs) no 'supplier' would admit there was a supply to that premises as there was no 'MPAN' or something. So, no bills

            2. Alligator

              Re: We had a copier engineer once...

              British Gas were notorious for incompetent IT back in the day. In the mid-90s I received a bill from them for £0.00 which I duly ignored. That was a mistake. They then send me a red bill for £0.00 which I also duly ignored. Another mistake. This was followed by a court summons and a threat to cut off my gas due to the unpaid bill. Phoning their accounts department did not help as I would sit on hold forever (presumably as they were making money off my call) and then get randomly cut off.

              It was finally solved by e-mailing the law firm that was representing them threatening to sue for costs incurred attending the summons and noting that I would charge them my usual 4 figure daily rate. Apologies were never forthcoming but the summons was very quickly withdrawn and threats of cutting off my supply mysteriously evaporated into thin air.

              1. Dafyd Colquhoun

                Re: We had a copier engineer once...

                When I worked for the local power board after the retail side of the business was sold off we got a threatening letter from the default retailer for the area. The letter said there was no payment of the bill for a particular location, which happened to be a substation and so there is no retail meter (energy costs all part of the network chargers). Unless it was paid that the power would be disconnected by the electricity supplier. Which was us. Nup, that wasn't going to happen!

        3. Luiz Abdala
          Flame

          Re: We had a copier engineer once...

          I remember of a bloke that had a similar problem with phone lines. He had a crosstalk problem on his line, and he was being billed by the company for calls he never made.

          The company refused to service his line because they never detected anything wrong. He simply got a spark coil from his car that inputs several thousand volts on a vehicle spark plugs, and hotwired it to his phone when he heard the crosstalk.

          The lines were set aflame along with the junction box down the street, followed by the line that was crossed with his.

          And that forced them to fix the problem...

  13. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Printer Maintenance Contracts

    Starting as a PFY my BOFH found out the previous head had got some weird contract on the printers when trying to cancel, there was a clause where you could only get out if you informed via letter exactly 6 months before. Of course it was 1 months to go so the contract ended up having to be renewed.

    They were making a mint of course, only once got the spare printer whilst the Lexmark C750 of course crapped itself (Even then it was an ancient HP Colour Laserjet). Nice tactic to get you stuck into a contract for another year.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Printer Maintenance Contracts

      Nice tactic to never get another contract after that.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Printer Maintenance Contracts

        That's a problem for another month's quota. Or even another salesman if the first one's moved on to another job.

    2. SVD_NL

      Re: Printer Maintenance Contracts

      The EU has put some mad restrictions on telecom providers, especially regarding contract duration and renewals (you must notify on contract extensions, and give an offer "in the best interest of the customer" for example).

      But somehow these pieces of trash are still allowed to have their automatically renewing 5-year contracts with ridiculous terms on how far in advance you need to cancel the contract.

      I'm not saying all of them are scammers, but to me it sure looks like it sometimes.

      1. timrowledge

        Re: Printer Maintenance Contracts

        Umm, you did notice that Brexit has given you back the priceless freedom to be shafted by scummy scammers, right?

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Printer Maintenance Contracts

        Mail the sim back to them. Embedded in your own faeces

    3. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Printer Maintenance Contracts

      I am intrigued by the fact you had a previous head

  14. Coastal cutie

    Now that's the way to start a Friday - another elegant BOFH takedown

  15. localzuk Silver badge

    Only thing worse

    Only thing worse than copiers and copier contracts? Franking machines and franking machine contracts.

    People think toner cartridges are expensive? Try franking machine inkjet cartridges. They make them seem cheap.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Only thing worse

      Add in the mandatory maintenance contract where they increase the price by 15% per year, just so they can persuade you a new machine is cheaper, but then tell you they can't guarantee a repair as "we can't get the parts" for a machine they, allegedly, manufactured.

  16. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    HP Laserjet 5

    Got it for free off the front porch of an office that was discarding it. With all the horror stories I'd heard about HP, Canon, and the other manufacturers and their expiring expendables scams, I thought I'd go with a printer built before they caught onto unsolicited firmware upgrades and remote control of expiration dates. I think it dates from 1993!

    Brought it home, powered it up and noticed that it made a grinding noise and the toner, though in the right places, was not fused.

    Went to The Internet and watched some service videos, then ordered a rebuilt fuser assembly ($150), a set of gears ($30), a RAM upgrade ($30) a 10BASE-T JetDirect interface ($15 off eBay) and a refurbed toner cartridge ($50!). I spent a few days removing and replacing, watching videos, and testing. Got two more NIB HP toner cartridges off the Goodwill site for $20 each. They will go to whoever inherits this printer!

    It's been sitting on my home network for a few years now, drawing 7W in sleep mode and waking up when anyone needs to print something. Even (and this was a surprise to me) prints from my wife's Apple gear, using my Linux desktop as an Apple print server. The page counter says 330k and the guy at the parts place said it should go a million no problem. To say this machine is easy to work on is an understatement. It's beautifully designed (the print engine is by Canon, the packaging and interface electronics are HP...the OLD HP)

    Not too bad for $275!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      I liked the LJ4 myself.

      1. CledusSnow

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        Ah the LJ4 - a legend. Managed to keep ours going at work for 14 years and it was heavily used.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: HP Laserjet 5

          I installed a 4M+ in the laboratory computer room back in... ooh, must be 1994. I went to meet a former colleague for lunch in 2017... it was still there, chugging away happily. The printer had done 6 years already when I left! It had been networked by Thin Ethernet, AppleTalk and twisted pair over the time I was there, as we upgraded our networking.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: HP Laserjet 5

            I know of one LaserWriter Pro 630 (same era as that Laserjet) that is still in daily use at a law office.

            At this point, I suspect it will almost certainly outlive the lawyer who owns it.

        2. D@v3

          Re: HP Laserjet 5

          I think we still have an LJ4 knocking around here somewhere. Much more reliable than the sodding huge Ricoh MFD's that we have all over the place.

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      330k, its not even worn in!

      Laserjet 5si we had was past well past 2 million double sided A4 prints when the rubber rollers in the print engine shifted on the metal shafts causing it to catch casing (Had that happen on a 4200dtn and a 4250dtn as well). Probably could have moved them back, but easy excuse to replace at the time.

      1. Giles C Silver badge

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        We had a 5si when I used to work, less of printer more a solid piece of steel. It finally expired when the internals melted (or something) and someone decided to put it in a 30 tonne rubbish compactor.

        The result after a lot of straining from the compactor the only sign of damage was a cracked plastic panel.

        They knew how to build properly those days.

        Mind you I have a 4350 sitting next to me at home (eBay purchase) apart from toners it has sat here for about 5 years without any real problems well one of the paper trays won’t print duplex but the other does….

        1. gryphon

          Re: HP Laserjet 5

          Always hated working on the Si’s. Not because they were hard to work on but because they’d always be stuck in inaccessible corners and needed to move them to work on. Heavy and unwieldy beasts at the best of times and never anybody else to help you.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: HP Laserjet 5

            They needed to be worked on?

            1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

              Re: HP Laserjet 5

              Only problems we really had were users removing staples and chucking them at the machine, the fuser roller was no match (Also no idea how the staples made it into the machines)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: HP Laserjet 5

          We had an early Laserjet in the lab. I don't even think they'd got round to adding numbers to them. It was still there when I left a few years later, of course and probably survived the IRA's destruction of the lab with their largest ever bomb some years after that.

    3. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      I can hear the sadness in your voice as you say, "The OLD HP". I hear it a lot and have said it myself with the same tone.

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      Something to be said for using the (higher quality) old commercial quality gear at home, instead of the consumer quality junk they try to sell you at Staples

    5. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      The LJ 4 and LJ5 will basically work forever. The parts are super simple to swap out, so you can keep it going and going.

      Got myself a second hand LJ4 when I was at uni in 2006. Think I printed 50,000 pages on it over a couple of years. Cartridges were £20 a pop. Worked out 1/10th the price I could print at the uni.

      1. ShortLegs

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        My faithful 2100M, bought by the company so I could work from home back in 2000. Retired a couple of years ago in favour of the duplex capabilities and faster network interface of a 2055dn, but nothing wrong with it. It might only be 10BaseT, it might "only" be 8wpm, but its built like a tanks, runs forever, and - and I didn't actually know this - is capable of 1200dpi.

        Its retired to the storage loft, in a ventilated bag with silica, but will never, ever be thrown. Its also a stated object in my will to a named beneficiary.

        They can prise it out of my dead hands, but never take it away!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: HP Laserjet 5

          "it might "only" be 8wpm"

          Either you meant ppm, pages per minute or you have a serious problem. 8 words per minuter, indeed! I think even an ancient pen plotter could beat that!

      2. gryphon

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        Final feed assembly on lj4 can be a bit of a pain to swap out but yup pretty bulletproof otherwise.

    6. WonkoTheSane
      Linux

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      "Even (and this was a surprise to me) prints from my wife's Apple gear, using my Linux desktop as an Apple print server."

      IIRC, Apple are a major code contributor to CUPS.

      1. hittitezombie

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        No more. They abandoned it, Matthew Sweet resigned and finally Apple gave all of the development work back to him. Now, finally, they're doing some great development work once more.

    7. norsni

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      Got a discarded laserjet 2200dtn probably 15 years ago. Unfortunately the extra paper magazine had been broken, but the printer itself is built like a tank. Had to log in to check statistice, somehow the page counter has been reset, it says 130 pages. I do remember somewhere north of 100k pages on it years ago. The network module is manufactured 2002. The best part? It just works. Even if sat for years between uses once, i just powered it up, and volia! Some things were built better before.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        Re: extra paper magazine -- check eBay. I have found lots of repair parts there. People buy junk and part it out.

      2. Dimmer

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        I have a theory,

        only the good stuff last so we tend to think stuff was built better back then.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: HP Laserjet 5

          The other thing is that people put high grade network devices capable of monthly usage cycles of 200k sheets in a home office where they print <200 pages per year and then praise the quality and longevity of the old equipment.

          Well yes, unsurprisingly it lasts quite well in that environment. ;)

        2. D-Coder

          Re: HP Laserjet 5

          This is known as "survivorship bias" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias).

    8. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      You can still buy a very good, completely uncrippled brand new laser printer for less than that. Significantly less if you wait for a good hp cashback deal and then find a retailer who still applies the usual discount as well. Last one I got was about 350 off 500, and you get quite good vfm that way. Good enough to be worth buying extra and chucking them on eBay once the cashback ends, often.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      Long live the HP 5si! I had one in service for something like 25 years. Before it ever printed a single page it was on its way to our site in the back of my boss's SUV. Boss hit a patch of ice, rolled the SUV multiple times. Totaled the car, but the 5si shrugged it off.

      1. gryphon

        Re: HP Laserjet 5

        There was an oddity with the 8000 series which succeeded the 5Si if memory serves.

        Some software’s printouts would just look weird with the 8000 driver so the trick was to use the 5Si driver instead.

        Functionally identical really but must have been some slight difference in the PCL coding.

        Was in a graphics department so must have been Autocad or Solidworks.

    10. gryphon

      Re: HP Laserjet 5

      Spent many ‘happy’ hours of downtime between service calls replacing the Teflon type rollers in various LJ fuser units. Easy peasy once you’d down a few. Think the roller was about £3, refurb unit about £35 back in the day. Always caused by some numpty using standard acetate or labels and melting them on.

      I was always very proud that I could strip a printer down to base parts and put back together without any screws etc. left over. Same with laptops and board swaps.

      Nowadays my wife doesn’t even trust me enough to change a socket.

      IBM band printers on the other hand - scary stuff when you had to bypass the lockout mechanism on the lid to see where it was failing.

  17. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    And Friday is now all good

    I don't think I need to say why!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    printer maintenance

    We have a new follow me print service in the office.

    Roles are split as follows:

    - queues and printer config: internal IT

    - consumables, HW: vendor onsite support

    Nice and good.

    Until we discovered the vendor didn't have the admin password of the printers, neither anyone in the office. And no, it was not, as expected by the vendor, and by far, the default one.

    So, I had to politely ask for the said password to internal IT, and push it to half a dozen of trusted office workers, in prevision for the day where some poor sod would have to drive a onsite support dude to the said printer, stare at him trying half a dozen of different models default password, and turn to said sod asking for it !

    And then see the dude leave, with a down printer.

  19. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Now thats the way to get the elusive paperless office dream into reality!

    1. A____B

      paperless office?

      At a meting with the MoD where they claimed to have a 'blame free culture', I once said as a throwaway comment that "In my experience, a blame free culture is about as likely as a paperless office".

      Several smiling, nodding faces.

      Six months later, at a conference, I saw a PowerPoint slide being presented with exactly those words on it -- shown by a MoD 'senior manager'.

  20. Paul Johnston
    Flame

    Band Name

    I was told once "Rage against the machine" was clearly about a printer.

    Sounds plausible to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Band Name

      The people angrily denouncing Rage Against the Machine for Tom Morello's leftist politics is one of the more hilarious things I have ever seen on the internet. WHAT MACHINE DID YOU THINK THEY HAVE BEEN RAGING AGAINST FOR DECADES? THE ICE CREAM MACHINE? THE ATM? LAWNMOWERS?

      — Elisabeth Ryan JD MPH (@EJAllstonEsq) June 10, 2020

    2. Potty Professor Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Re: Band Name

      Once a printer manufacturer ran a full page ad in an electronic engineering magazine, showing an office type shouting at his printer "Why isn't this £$^&*((&%% printer working". Someone in our office had torn the page out and pinned it on the notice board with a large label with a red felt tip arrow pointing to the clearly visible 240V socket on the back, and the words "Because it isn't £$^&*((&%% plugged in!"

    3. Curtis

      Re: Band Name

      PC LOAD LETTER

  21. The Northerner Up North

    Stack of money

    Many many years ago I worked for a time for a very small company. In summer the server room door would be propped open to cool the surrounding office... ...to keep the automatically closing door open was a stack of several 'old' laptops. On enquiring these laptops had been bought over a five year contract and were so low spec they were unusable a couple of years later but the company were still paying thousands every year demanded by the contract - so probably the most expensive door stop ever.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Stack of money

      "so probably the most expensive door stop ever"

      Maybe not. Feynman tells of the solid gold doorstop on the room that contained the sub-critical plutonium sphere.

  22. earl grey
    Pint

    and the sad part

    I still have all the manuals for the 3s, 4s, 5s, and 6s that we used to have around at one time (yes, i'm a pack rat of notorious proportions).

    Cheers.

    1. gryphon

      Re: and the sad part

      That is not sad in any way. Just prudent.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. hittitezombie

    Can I join in?

    I have some fancy HP printer cartridge right in my hands.

  25. msobkow Silver badge

    Simon, Simon, Simon.

    Thou art truly the master of vengeance! :)

  26. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Well the BOFH himself is not impervious ...

    ... to the clever machinations of printer-attached leeches :

    https://www.theregister.com/2016/06/17/bofh_2016_episode_8/

  27. Lorribot

    oh the paperless office (bit like fusion always 10 years away)

    Despite people working from home for 2 years with no printers, as soon as people have return to the office they feel the need to print out their emails to read and keep copies of.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: oh the paperless office (bit like fusion always 10 years away)

      My office is paperless.

      Of course, I'm the only one in there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: oh the paperless office (bit like fusion always 10 years away)

      Sounds like a huge incentive to continue work from home.

  28. Blackjack Silver badge

    That's a bit harsh, but then again... ink printers are definitely a scam.

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