UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 22 December 23, 2005

€2 short of UX

It’s been quite a while since the last time I bought a printer. Besides it’s not something you do every day. So I found my way to the local computer shop and picked up my brand spanking new printer.

It’s one of those extremely high tech printers, with a color LCD display, very-very high resolution, direct camera printing… Hell, it even has a built-in card reader so I don’t need a computer. The printer shipped with a few high quality photo paper sheets, two ink cartridges for high resolution photographic printing… BUT NO CABLE .

Saving €2 destroyed user experience

OK, I know printers usually don’t come with cables in the box, so I bought an extra cable at the shop. But that’s me. I bet there are plenty of consumers out there rushing home to try out there new printer as we speak, only to find that they have to return to the shop to pay an extra small amount for the cable.

Saving €2 destroyed user experience. For two lousy Euros, companies are being dragged to the pits by angry & furious computer owners around the world.

By leaving out a €2 cable do they cut costs? Is it because there are so many types of computers, supporting a number of different cables?

I think not. In fact I have no idea why they leave it out. I’ve purchased a number of products in the past months: all shipped with their cables . In fact they all came with two or three cables depending on the device. Namely, my iPod had USB & Fire Wire cables, where my CyberShot had USB, S-Video & analog connectors.

Could anyone explain why HP sacrifices user experience just when it should reach its climax?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

User Profile

Constantinos is employed as a Creative Director for Tribal DDB Athens. In his ever dwindling spare time he works on the development of UX Magazine and Joblet. You can find out more about him here of follow him on twitter.

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Comments

24
32

Like you, I have no idea why they decided to leave it out, but there are many possibilities.

No, I don't think they left out the printer cable it to save the €2. One possibility is that they could have done it for environmental reasons. I'd be interested to find out the percentage of first-time printer buyers vs. upgrading printer buyers. Most of the latter group should have one or more types of printer cables ready. This is similar to the European Commission's move on standardizing the phone charger -- to save the environmental impact of electronic wastes.

So I think the failure doesn't come from leaving out the printer cable, but failing to inform the buyer that the cable isn't included when most buyers expect to find it in the package.

22
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 didn’t know that and it makes a lot of sense even if I don’t particularily agree with the practice.

24
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22
30

HP have never been good with complete packages. I had to purchase a phone cable for the modem. Surely that wouldn't have cost them more than a few cents?

I've had similar issues with their printers - no cables.

You'd think that computer stores would wise up and take the opportunity to sell the customer a cable at the time!

24
29

I understand your thoughts on that matter totaly. I’ve also bought a printer some years ago (yes it was HP also!) and i found out when i got home that i could use it as it had no cables!! You pay so much money to find out that you just can’t print!!

Well at least they could inform consumers and somehow make the user experience a bit better! They could spend some money on ink and print with big letters on the printer’s box “Cables NOT included” [as the Batteries not included” sign in some toys] so as to be honest and INFORM you what you’ll need in order to have your product able to work before you get home!

Anyway… information is a VERY valuable good, and on this everyone should invest…

25
24

Last months I blough an HP printer too in Chile and think the same “why HP destroy my possitve conection with his product for only EU2!”

24
29

How does this site compare to the upcoming Newsvine

19
29

Isn’t newswine a comparison between news.google.com or digg?

23
25

HP’s decision has more layers than you realize, and is arguably kinda clever on the sales level: omitting the cable is a consolation prize to incentivize the store/salesman. This is necessary because low-end printers have lousy margins for stores, which is because their low price points allow little markup for HP, which is because their main purpose is to sell very high-margin ink cartridges & paper later (aka the “razor blade” sales strategy).

Notice that most consumer-type stores don’t sell cheapo cables, but rather sell the expensive supposedly “premium” name brand ones that make a zillion % markup for the store. Also notice that those little last-minute extras almost never go on special. Some stores have bonus commissions for salesmen specially on cables. If you were a salesman, this alone would convince you to push printer brands that come without cables so you could make the special commission on the cable.

23
24

Miles: I didn’t know that and it makes a lot of sense even if I don’t particularily agree with the practice. The market is pushing the price of these devices down consistently which pushes corporation to “hide” the profit in things such as cartridges, media, and apparently, cables. Is the way that Apple choses to go (charge premium for everything but include what’s required) better? I don’t know, but it’s certainly more transparent.

24
31

I think that HP has a note on the package of their printers that says that there is no cable on it.

Most probably they don’t include cables for two (or even three) reasons. First, because you might have a serial port and a USB port. So, should they include two cables? That’s 4 euros. Second, maybe they are afraid that the quality of the cable is such that it might not work. Maybe?! Third, what if you wan’t a 5-meter cables instead of a 3-meter one because the printer sits further away from your PC?

In any case, any salesperson can inform you about the missing cable and add one as a gift.

25
31

I’m a Computer Tech at a local computer shop here in New Zealand. We don’t have any commissions on the cables specifically, but with the prices for printers so low, and consumers know they are very low from the advertising done by the big companies. So the smaller companies charge between $5 – $15 for a cable. This actually costs them between $2 – $5 depending on shielding and bulkbuying habits. It’s a way for the smaller companies to make more money. Bigger companies generally in New Zealand already include the cable if it’s not in the package itself.

23
30

Being involved in Web Design only and not at Paper works, I rarely use a printer, cause things on paper always look different from the screen.
However, I believe, it’s good to have a cable in the box, for better customer service and lack of complaints and gringe.

25
26

Basically, most consumer-grade printers (and that’s the ones which don’t include cabling), sell under their price. Also give reused cartridges (and just half-filled) in the pack.

I don’t know other countries, but in Spain, you pay somewhere around €20 and €30 for a “normal” printer (HP or Epson). Taking you pay minimum 12€ (up to 19.34€) as a special tax just for being a printer, plus 16% VAT… that’s a ridiculous price.

Where companies like HP or Epson make real money is on ink cartridges (new original cartridges are usually about the price of the printer, each).

So 2 euro is really a difference for those companies (at least, if they keep selling printers so underpriced). Probably they should just make the price 2 euro higher and sell the printer with the cable, yes… but they have probably already thought about it and there is a logic against doing that (same as there MUST be some logic about selling underpriced).

22
27

You’ve already bought the printer, why should HP care about your purchasing experience?

23
23

It sounds like they should a lot. Because by the way people are complaining here, it sounds like they might not have any repeat customers. Sure, there’s enough people in the world to make up for that you say, but it’s a hell of a lot easier the other way.

28
31

I one office we had a problem (iF you think your experience is annoying).

Lexmark incluides a calbe, was goodie, :)
The cable was damaged: “you got to request a cable directly to Lexmark and wait a few days”. Just because the cable is “special”. The USB was the option, but we found better use the printer via IP – Network.

I could post another example of this stupid “saving”. I couldn’t explain “why HP sacrifices user experience just when it should reach its climax”. But I will add wood to the flames:

WHY the hell xbox sells memories as short as 256 or 512? We know the memori cards can be now 1 or 5gb ?

They prefeer sell 4 of 256 more than 1 of 1gb. That’s annoying and ******.

DVD’s: why there are DVD 1 and DVD 2 in the same pack? iF there are 2 sided DVD’S !!!!

Marketing—- maybe .

27
30

EDITED: sorry ‘cause I was writing so fast as I was thinking what to say.

In an office we had the problem and the cable was damaged by some user.

Tme MEMORY can be now 1 or 2 Gb, (why they sell only 256 ?? do they think I’ll say “wooow!!! 256 of memory!! excellent!!!” hahahaha.

25
32

1) HP is the devil, I worked retail computer sales for 5 years. HP non-business class systems are crap. Only buy them if you want to buy a new computer every year.

2) On printers, there is usually really crappy sales margin which, if you are commission, means that you don’t make much money. Back in the day, I would make $2 on the $200 printer and $12 on the $29.99 USB cable.

Naturally you just tried to sell just the cables, but it did not work out too well..

23
26

1) HP is the devil, I worked retail computer sales for 5 years. HP non-business class systems are crap. Only buy them if you want to buy a new computer every year.

2) On printers, there is usually really crappy sales margin which, if you are commission, means that you don’t make much money. Back in the day, I would make $2 on the $200 printer and $12 on the $29.99 USB cable.

Naturally you just tried to sell just the cables, but it did not work out too well..

20
31

EDITED: sorry ‘cause I was writing so fast as I was thinking what to say.

In an office we had the problem and the cable was damaged by some user.

Tme MEMORY can be now 1 or 2 Gb, (why they sell only 256 ?? do they think I’ll say “wooow!!! 256 of memory!! excellent!!!” hahahaha.

25
34

I one office we had a problem (iF you think your experience is annoying).

Lexmark incluides a calbe, was goodie, :)
The cable was damaged: “you got to request a cable directly to Lexmark and wait a few days”. Just because the cable is “special”. The USB was the option, but we found better use the printer via IP – Network.

I could post another example of this stupid “saving”. I couldn’t explain “why HP sacrifices user experience just when it should reach its climax”. But I will add wood to the flames:

WHY the hell xbox sells memories as short as 256 or 512? We know the memori cards can be now 1 or 5gb ?

They prefeer sell 4 of 256 more than 1 of 1gb. That’s annoying and ******.

DVD’s: why there are DVD 1 and DVD 2 in the same pack? iF there are 2 sided DVD’S !!!!

Marketing—- maybe .

18
33

It sounds like they should a lot. Because by the way people are complaining here, it sounds like they might not have any repeat customers. Sure, there’s enough people in the world to make up for that you say, but it’s a hell of a lot easier the other way.

22
25

You’ve already bought the printer, why should HP care about your purchasing experience?

31
27

Basically, most consumer-grade printers (and that’s the ones which don’t include cabling), sell under their price. Also give reused cartridges (and just half-filled) in the pack.

I don’t know other countries, but in Spain, you pay somewhere around €20 and €30 for a “normal” printer (HP or Epson). Taking you pay minimum 12€ (up to 19.34€) as a special tax just for being a printer, plus 16% VAT… that’s a ridiculous price.

Where companies like HP or Epson make real money is on ink cartridges (new original cartridges are usually about the price of the printer, each).

So 2 euro is really a difference for those companies (at least, if they keep selling printers so underpriced). Probably they should just make the price 2 euro higher and sell the printer with the cable, yes… but they have probably already thought about it and there is a logic against doing that (same as there MUST be some logic about selling underpriced).

22
25

Being involved in Web Design only and not at Paper works, I rarely use a printer, cause things on paper always look different from the screen.
However, I believe, it’s good to have a cable in the box, for better customer service and lack of complaints and gringe.

20
26

I’m a Computer Tech at a local computer shop here in New Zealand. We don’t have any commissions on the cables specifically, but with the prices for printers so low, and consumers know they are very low from the advertising done by the big companies. So the smaller companies charge between $5 – $15 for a cable. This actually costs them between $2 – $5 depending on shielding and bulkbuying habits. It’s a way for the smaller companies to make more money. Bigger companies generally in New Zealand already include the cable if it’s not in the package itself.

21
23

I think that HP has a note on the package of their printers that says that there is no cable on it.

Most probably they don’t include cables for two (or even three) reasons. First, because you might have a serial port and a USB port. So, should they include two cables? That’s 4 euros. Second, maybe they are afraid that the quality of the cable is such that it might not work. Maybe?! Third, what if you wan’t a 5-meter cables instead of a 3-meter one because the printer sits further away from your PC?

In any case, any salesperson can inform you about the missing cable and add one as a gift.

25
32

Miles: I didn’t know that and it makes a lot of sense even if I don’t particularily agree with the practice. The market is pushing the price of these devices down consistently which pushes corporation to “hide” the profit in things such as cartridges, media, and apparently, cables. Is the way that Apple choses to go (charge premium for everything but include what’s required) better? I don’t know, but it’s certainly more transparent.

23
29

HP’s decision has more layers than you realize, and is arguably kinda clever on the sales level: omitting the cable is a consolation prize to incentivize the store/salesman. This is necessary because low-end printers have lousy margins for stores, which is because their low price points allow little markup for HP, which is because their main purpose is to sell very high-margin ink cartridges & paper later (aka the “razor blade” sales strategy).

Notice that most consumer-type stores don’t sell cheapo cables, but rather sell the expensive supposedly “premium” name brand ones that make a zillion % markup for the store. Also notice that those little last-minute extras almost never go on special. Some stores have bonus commissions for salesmen specially on cables. If you were a salesman, this alone would convince you to push printer brands that come without cables so you could make the special commission on the cable.

21
31

Isn’t newswine a comparison between news.google.com or digg?

27
26

How does this site compare to the upcoming Newsvine

25
29

Last months I blough an HP printer too in Chile and think the same “why HP destroy my possitve conection with his product for only EU2!”

25
24

I understand your thoughts on that matter totaly. I’ve also bought a printer some years ago (yes it was HP also!) and i found out when i got home that i could use it as it had no cables!! You pay so much money to find out that you just can’t print!!

Well at least they could inform consumers and somehow make the user experience a bit better! They could spend some money on ink and print with big letters on the printer’s box “Cables NOT included” [as the Batteries not included” sign in some toys] so as to be honest and INFORM you what you’ll need in order to have your product able to work before you get home!

Anyway… information is a VERY valuable good, and on this everyone should invest…