A Tale of Ink and Paper.

25 July 2005  •  Filed under ,

Last Saturday I was typing up some papers that had to be printed out when the inkjet printer that came free with my computer purchase informed me that my black ink was about to run out. I shouldn’t have been surprised; as these el cheapo printers get more compact and “space-efficient,” so do the ink cartridges.

Typically, by the time I get to the store I’m already cross and ready to rumble because it feels like it would probably be cheaper to get mugged in some dark alley than pay for a 2 inch by 1 inch plastic box (presumably) full of ink. Forget the Gold Standard. I like to use the iPod Standard. According to the iPod Standard, 3 fleeting ink cartridges equals one iPod Shuffle and — friends — that just ain’t right.

Maybe chosing Best Buy wasn’t the Best Idea, not only because of previous experience and prices that are ironically not always the “best buy”, but because I happened to be sick as well. What a delicious combo.

I quickly found my cartridge and made my way to the registers, allowing myself to be ceremoniously herded into the winding, roped-off path to the front of the line. Moo. As usual, the associate at the register perkily noted that because I have a zip code, I qualify for a free trial membership to one of four equally dull magazines! “No thanks.” I say, having systematically rejected the exact same offer every time I have made a purchase a Best Buy in the past 3 months. Next time I’m just going to announce that I don’t want any magazines before I give him my zip code and see how that goes.

So my cartridge gets scanned, and my receipt prints. And prints. And prints. Woah, more printing. Trees are crying. And… done. The cashier hands me my wad of purchase identification and bids me a good day.

As I walk to the door, I’m not sure why I’m surprised that I could use this receipt as a kite tail or a headband. I’ve bought tons of junk at Best Buy; surely I’ve been the recipient of such loquacious register tape before. Yes, I remembered. My computer’s receipts were long, but they also held important rebate information. As I scanned my latest receipt, it appeared to be roughly 80% garbage. Upon further dilligent inspection at home, I found that my tiny inkjet catridge purchase had generated a receipt that was no less than 20 inches long. Why, I ask you. Why?

In the glorious tradition of Designer Folk Who Redesign Stuff That Is Poorly Designed, I am providing Best Buy with the kind of receipt that won’t make trees cry. Enjoy the free input, you corporate juggernaut. You’re welcome.


justin » 25 July 2005 #

Yeah that’s just plain ridiculous.

Brian Behrend » 25 July 2005 #

Rebates? Or just the stupid survey all these stores are trying to scam us into filling out lately? I hate those things.

chuck » 26 July 2005 #

that’s funny … I’ve noticed the same thing at other places.

You should have seen the mile of register tape I got at Staples when I exchanged a malfunctioning printer for a good one.

When I got home I wrapped it around the toilet paper roll in the bathroom.

Hey, want not waste not, I always say. :)

Andrew Kaufmann » 26 July 2005 #

I’m a little skeptical as to how good that slick receipt paper would be as a bathroom tissue. And just imagine the look on the cashier when you realize you need to do another return, and hand them THAT piece of receipt.

Comp USA is the same way. The receipts are giant. It’s insane. Receipts need to have the date, the store, the item/price, the total, and the tax. Stick return policy pre-printed on the back. Anything else is a waste of ink and paper. I’m still a fan of the little tiny slip of paper you get at mom and pop convenience stores, that’s about an inch wide and 2 inches long.

Clayton Gray » 26 July 2005 #

you should have said to the register..
“Hey, can I just have a little extra reciept? I want to make a headband out of it?”

But people wouldn’t get the joke why you had a thin peice of paper around your head because they can’t see the “Best Buy” part of it. Oh well.

Pierce » 27 July 2005 #

Wouldn’t it be a bit of a waste of ink printing all those big black squares in the second receipt?

mat » 28 July 2005 #

Ooh, like the changes.

I know that this isn’t the ideal place to put this comment, but yeah, verrrrry nice tweaks.

Melissa Gray » 29 July 2005 #

That’s a little crazy. Where I used to work the receipts kept getting longer and longer. New details about credit card chrages, promoting jobs, more information needed for returns. You name it, TK Maxx slammed it on a receipt. The ironic thing is that when Chip&Pin was introduced the credit card slips got longer, even though the customer had nothing to sign anymore.

Matt Hampel » 2 August 2005 #

Ack, phooey! Perhaps the CEO of Best Buy has interests in a paper pulp plant or something?

As far as printers go, any of the Cannon IP series use black ink cartridges that cost about $6.00—that’s about 16 on the Shuffle standard.

Lance E. Leonard » 8 August 2005 #

The same thing happened at Blockbuster the other day. Except this time, the receipt printer was printing no less than 15 coupons ranging from ”$1 off” to “rent one non-new release, 5-day rental before noon on the first thursday following my birthday and get one free” because of the class action lawsuit I was evidently a part of. Oh, and they all expired yesterday.

Mitch Malone » 14 August 2005 #

I used to work for a company that kept every bit of paperwork in triplicate. This might sound like some sort of logical security measure or something, but what I found particularly pathetcic is that ALL THREE copies were kept in the same place. We’re supposed to be living in a paperless society, but realistically we consume more now than ever.

MarkB » 18 August 2005 #

You should try refilling your cartridge Jared! I was in the business for a few years and I can honestly say that it CAN be successfully done and it doesn’t damage your printer. Email me if you want more info.. ;)

Ivan » 23 August 2005 #

Well, there is no best buy in mexico… :)
And there’s a complete culture and stores dedicated to InkJet printer cartridges refills. a gallon of ink for like…15 dollars, of course it’s like gray ink not black buy who cares :P
and the new ones in office depot cost more than the printer ..ouch!, HP printer like 67 dollars…B&W plus color carts…79 dollars.

Greg » 24 August 2005 #

I could use the receipts I get from Office Max as toilet paper…

© Jared Christensen

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