Providing the Unexpected

I have a WiFi-networked Brother inkjet printer for the house. Not a laser printer by any means, but it had four features I liked:

  1. decent price
  2. good Linux support
  3. WiFi networking, so I can put it anywhere and not have to depend on a computer being up
  4. Easy to refill cartridges

Ink has always been the bane of home printers. Just when you most need to print something, you find out you are out of cyan. You can’t even print in black, since the printer protects itself bu not allowing any printing. Ink cartridges are the disposable razers of the high-tech world — give the printer away and laugh your way to the bank on the ink.

So I didn’t mind paying a bit more for a printer with the expectation of less expensive ink. I have bought those re-fill it kits in the past and managed to stain my hands and desk as I carefully tried to inject the ink into a cartridge with my shaky hands. I’m older now and that, and oil changes on the car, is something I don’t consider it worth doing myself anymore. This is quite something from someone as stingy as I am.

So I was happy when the ink refill stores started popping up. I could get them to do the grunt work of refilling my cartridges and still save a bundle, especially if I bought a ten-pack. The one trade-off was that I would inevitably have to hang around the mall they were in for half an hour or so until they had finished the refill. For some this might not seem like a chore, but like many males, I am not a shopper and when I am a shopper (let’s say mid-December as a wild example) I don’t usually need to refill my ink.

Small price to pay I figured. Of course I was valuing my own time at about $0/hour which may not be the most sensible thing either.

So I walk into the Printwell here in Ottawa to refill a couple of colour ink cartridges, hand them over and ask how long. I’m expecting to hear “30 minutes”. Instead: “Right away. This is a common cartridge, so we now have re-filled ones available.”

It made my day. Someone thinking about how to improve their service. Similar to how you now swap your propane tanks instead of waiting for someone to refill them. But still, exceeding my expectations.

Something we could all strive to do everyday…