Sunday, 30 December 2012

Counterfeit Ink for Epson Printer: How Counterfeiters are Getting Better

If eBay is not a paradise for counterfeiters and fraudsters it isn't exactly a hell. I have to admit that eBay and its sister company, PayPal, are doing a phenomenal job in preventing fraud and helping fraud victims. However, there is caveat in their policies which helps perpetrators victimise unsuspecting customers.

That caveat is 90 days. Yes, 90 days. You have to report or file your dispute (an umbrella term for any suspicion of fraud or actual disputes used at eBay) within 90 days of purchase through PayPal and this is only valid if you paid using the same. That is why I did not file a dispute against the seller of Rock Mobile Disk. (see Review: Stay away from Rock Mobile Disk)

I have a printer which cost me $60 and I bought directly from its manufacturer and its ink – the whole set of four cartridges – costs me almost $100+ dollars. However, there is a solution which involves eBay. I can buy genuine – not generic – ink cartridges for my printer from sellers on eBay at a fraction of their original cost. I have been doing this quite successfully for a long time. Until recently.

I bought several cartridges of ink from a seller (eBay username: daily_office_supplies) in USA at almost 50% of original cost. The seller made it clear that he will be shipping them in plastic seals only without cardboard packaging to save shipping cost. Nothing suspicious there too. It had been done by other sellers too and cartridges turned out to be just fine.

After I received the cartridges, I kept them in a box for later use. Fortunately, my printer had to do some overtime on printing resulting in it demanding two cartridges be replaced. I replaced them. Immediately printer started skipping and missing and leaving big gaps in prints; a sure sign of clogged nozzles. I cleaned them to no avail. I cleaned them twice. I cleaned them thrice.

Incensed, I called Epson, my printer’s manufacturer. They patiently helped me. Helped me. And helped me again, until I got a clear, near perfect print out. I had to change several cartridges during the process. Here is a point to be noted. Every time I changed a cartridge, I replaced it with one bought from same seller, daily_office_supplies. After two agonizingly frustrating days, I decided to check and match the empty cartridges that I initially replace with new ones. The similarities and differences were uncanny.

It wasn't my printer's fault that the prints were coming out lousy. It was the ink cartridges all along.
First thing that made me believe that there could possibly be nothing wrong with the new cartridges was their plastic seal packaging. Look at the following photographs. These seals contained the faulty – or shall we say counterfeit – ink cartridges.
They are the typical plastic seals that most Epson cartridges come in. Until I threw them out I had been unable to find any infamous spelling mistakes which counterfeit products' packagings are supposed to have.

Note that my printer uses following epson ink cartidges: T069220, T069320, T069420, T069520

These are SKU codes. They also appear as T0692, T0693, T0694, T0695, i.e. with out trailing 20.

Now let us examin the differences between an original and a fake cartidge in some photographs. The cartridges that I am using in my comparison are T0692 or T069220 which is cyan colour.

First Picture


Original: Green electrical part is securely fixed in the cartridge. Also it is even and straight surface.

Counterfeit: Bottom end of green electrical part seems loose and not secure. It is bent near the metal parts.


Original: There is slit separate from green electrical part just blow its bottom end.

Counterfeit: There is a huge gab below the green electrical part.


Original: Design is complex and pinch clip is wide.

Counterfeit: Design is simple and pinch clip is narrower.

Second Picture


Original: Pinch clip is thick and smooth,

Counterfeit: Pinch clip is thin and and has holes in it.


Original: Word EPSON etched in the surface.

Counterfeit: Word EPSON is missing.


Original: Left side layer is thick.

Counterfeit: Left side layer is thin.

Third Picture


Original: Complex design and notice the letter H near top left corner.

Counterfeit: Simple design and the letter H is missing.


Original: More pronounced groves and no barrier on either side of the groves.

Counterfeit: Groves are less pronounced and there is barrier on their left side.

Fourth Picture


Original: Structures above and below ink hole are thicker and smoother.

Counterfeit: Structures above and below ink hole are thiner and uneven.


Original: Thin and thick horizontal lines and the hole is deep.

Counterfeit: Both lines of plastic are thick and the hole below them is shallow.


Original: Base is wide.

Counterfeit: Base is narrower.

Fifth Picture


Original: Smaller print is thinner and SKU code is underlined.

Counterfeit: Smaller print is thicker and SKU code is not underlined.


Original: If you enlarge the picture you can see the word EPSON etched into the plastic. Similarly there are some numbers etched near the bottom end, too below the company name. Overall structue is also more complex.

Counterfeit: Etched word and numbers are missing. Structure is simpler and smoother.


Original: Overall structure on left side is much more refined and there is circle on right side of the pinch clip.

Counterfeit: Overall structure on left side is crude and the circle from right side of the pinch clip is missing.

Sixth Picture


Original: SKU code is underlined. Words Cyan are thinner.

Counterfeit: SKU code is not underlined. Words Cyan are thicker or bolder.


Original: Matrix code is lighter with more gaps.

Counterfeit: Matrix code is darker with fewer gaps.

In conclusion, counterfeiter are becoming more and more sophisticated and unreasonably high prices of easily manufactured products give an open invitaion to such criminal minds to target the bargain hunters who are looking for more bang for their buck.

Although, it is a buyer's responsibility to do due diligence when purchasing any product online from an unknown seller, however, companies like Epson should give a chance to some reason and common sense when they charge $100+ dollars for a $60 printer.

Be safe and prevent fraud!