January 05, 2010

"I Don't Know"

I have said lots of nice things about Lebanon lately; time for some venting. I had to run some errands today. Running errands in this town is a never-ending source of blog inspiration. Today is about people's inability to say "I don't know," when they do not know something. And this excuse of 'it's not polite in our culture,' I do not buy.

Today, I had to buy a photo printer. But I am not really sure what the difference is between all these one million inkjet, laser jet and photo printers. Maybe a good color printer does the same job as a cheap photo printer? And can a photo printer also printer documents? And which one is the best choice when I take quality versus economics into considerations? I thought I might as well ask the salesperson.

And so I got to Virgin. I look around. I see loads of printers, but only one with the label ‘photo printer’. It’s a $99 Canon. I thought they’d be more expensive. And what about these $300 color laser jets on the side? Do they do a better or worse job when printing a photo? So I get salesman #1.

You know about photo printers?” I ask.
“Of course,” he says, with a friendly smile.
Is it a good photo printer?” I ask.
Canon is a very good brand,” he replies.

I have a regular Canon printer at home, and I find it a mediocre machine. Clean out of the box and something broke off, before I had even started printing. The ink cartridges are expensive and not everywhere available, the driver seems to clash with my computer system and needs to be reinstalled frequently.

"Do you have other photo printers?”
and he points at a nice looking color printer.
It doesn’t say it is a photo printer.”
“No. But it can print photos if you want.”
“You are sure you know about photo printers?
”, I ask again.
He nods.
What about these laser jets?”
“They’re good too.”
“So why shouldn’t I buy a laser jet?”
“You can do that too. Here, HP, is a very good brand.”
“If a laser jet is good too, then why would I pay more for a photo printer?”
“Because it is for photos.”

“But a laser jet will also print photos?”
“So what is the difference?”
He’s at a loss here. Although I have asked him twice now, it is clear I probably know more about printers then he does. He doesn’t know, but he cannot say it. He cannot say: “I don’t know.”
Do you have someone who knows about photo printers?”

Reluctantly he leaves, slightly irritated (probably thinking, 'what a bitch') , looking for a colleague higher in the picking order.
Salesman #2 comes in, with a tad bit of an arrogant swagger.

Do you know about photo printers?” I ask.
Of course,” he says.
"Do you have photo printers?”"
he says, while looking around.
Well, actually you do. That one,” and I point to the $99 Canon.
Oh, yes, we have that one.”
“Well what about those color laser jets? Can they not print nice pictures?”
he replies with authority. “No, they’re not good.”
Why not,” I want to know.
They cannot print on photo paper.”
That’s a new one for me. I’ve always been able to drag photo paper through any of my printers.
Why not?”
“The paper is too thick,”
he replies.
So he doesn’t know either. But he can’t say it. He just can’t say it. "I don't know, m'am." He can't say it.

That’s it. I’ve dealt with two morons, whose combined knowledge about printers does not equal the accumulated knowledge of a housewife who’s been Googling consumer reports all morning about the pros and cons of photo printers that morning.

I’ll try again tomorrow. Now if anyone could tell me the difference between a photo printer and a color printer, that would be nice.

Venting done. Much better.


kb said...

Hey Sietske, loving your blog for many years now, my first comment here.

I have a canon selphy photo printer and it does nothing else but print photos. It uses special cartridges and can only print on special photo paper. The machine itself is pretty cheap but then again the cartridges and paper can be quite costy.

On the other hand, laser or ink printers can print documents, photos or anything you want. Some are indeed sold as photo printers which you can hook up to the camera directly, with a small LCD screen to preview pics, etc. But in the end it's still a regular printer.

Hope this helps

Anonymous said...

Thanks KB. But do the photos stay nice, or do they fade after a year when hung out in the open? I think I'll go for a nice Laser one, but am still confused. I'll try some other stores tomorrow (More venting, who knows?)

Jad Aoun said...

Sietske, I've had the same problem here in Dubai; I just ended up not buying anything.

Honestly though, I really think that sales people especially at electronics shops are useless. I never head out to a store without some serious research online.

Marillionlb said...

I use an my inkjet printer to print photos both at the office and at home. The pics never faded. The laserjet is faster but more expensive to run. Do not go for a bottom of the range all in one printer if you want to get good printing results you would be better off investing in one or two ranges up. One added bonus with many HP color cartridges you get a stack of Photo paper.
Hope this helps

Sietske said...

Okay guys, I think I've got it. I'm going for a Laser jet. Seems to be cheaper in ink, and a good one, does the same on phtopaper as a photoprinter.

Anonymous said...

Actually the second salesman was not that dumb. For inkjet printers you have special photo paper, gives a nice glossy result. But that paper is indeed a little thicker, and it might jam a laser printer. I am not sure that this special photo paper gives a glossy result in a laser printer. Years ago I succesfully ran plastic overhead sheets through a laser printer (this was before everyone used Powerpoint and a beamer), but a colleague of mine succesfully ruined a 5000 dollar laser printer when he repeated my trick. Just check if glossy paper gives a good result in a laser printer (I don't know if it does) and if you can run glossy paper through the laserprinter, and check in the shop BEFORE you buy. And tell us if it jammed the printer... Y.

Alistair said...

Hi Sietske, in UK we have a subscription Consumer Magazine called Which? which is excellent and tests all the leading brands at
http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/printers. A trial one month subscription costs just $1.60 (ordinarily $15) and it should answer all your questions about colour printers.

Anonymous said...


Go with a color laser printer...a color laser print will last a very long time, and if you needed the print to be on heavier paper, you can do that as well. STAY AWAY FROM INKJETS, you will spend a fortune on ink, if you don't use it for a while, the ink will die, and the surface of the print tends to be very fragile...i've been through many, many printers...learn from my mistakes. The color laser will be more expensive up front, but you won't regret it.

Here's an in depth explanation:P



Ginette said...

Wonderful. My hubbie right now is on his way to Virgin to find me a PHOTO printer, after having heard exactly the same arguments in other stores before. Let´s see if he├žs succesful.
The same goes for rocking chairs for Babies. And music boxes for the bed. ´Is this a good one?´ ´Yes, it´s a Chicco¨¨What can it do?´...she reads from the box, including the installation advice. ´And this one?´ ´Yes, it´s a Vtech.´ ´Ah don´t know that brand.´ ´They are the marketleader an very good.´ ´And Chicco?´ They too´.....

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