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Printer companies are well known for abusive ink pricing, and not allowing you to print in black when your colour ink has run out.
Companies have been able to justify this by saying they use some colour ink to enhance black printing, but Canon USA is currently having to defend a much more difficult accusation – why scanning and faxing stops working when the ink runs out.
This has of course been an issue for many years, with Canon merely telling those who complain that this is how it works.
Canon USA is now facing a class-action lawsuit led by David Leacraft, who is claiming deceptive marketing and unjust enrichment by the company.
He said while using his Canon Pixma MG6320 printer he was surprised to discover that the “all-in-one” machine would refuse to scan or fax documents if the printer ran out of ink.
The charge notes:
“Plaintiff Leacraft would not have purchased the device or would not have paid as much for it had he known that he would have to maintain ink in the device in order to scan documents.”
This is despite the printer being advertised as having three distinct features – print, copying, and scanning and no warning that ink is required for all those features.
Leacraft claims that consumers had been deceived into buying a product that was designed to artificially and unethically introduce functional bottlenecks by tying them to ink levels, even if there’s no practical link between them.
“The All-in-One Printers do not scan or fax documents when the devices have low or empty ink cartridges (the “Design Issue”), and Canon’s advertising claims are false, misleading, and reasonably likely to deceive the public.”
Because there is no practical need for ink when scanning, for example, Leacraft argues that Canon is merely doing this to increase profits and the company was therefore engaging in unjust enrichment.
“There is no reason or technical basis for manufacturing the All-in-One Printers with an ink level detection function that causes the scanner to stop functioning when ink is low or empty. Canon designed the All-in-One Printers in such a way to require consumers to maintain ink in their devices regardless of whether they intend to print,” continues the complaint.
“The result is an increase in ink sales from which Canon obtains significant profits.”
The company is claimed to have violated:
- The New York General Business Law § 349
- The New York General Business Law § 350
- Breach of express warranties
- Unjust enrichment
- Failure to disclose material information
The lawsuit seeks at least $5,000,000 in awards, exclusive of interest, fees, and litigation costs.
The lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York and has not been approved for class-action status yet, but if it does any Canon printer buyer may be liable to receive compensation.
I am sure this is one case many of our readers will be keeping an eye on.