Monday, October 27, 2008

The Reply.

Okay, this is the first post I have actually completed in "real time". The rest of the entries were just getting caught up on what I've done over the last day or two.

I just finished composing the following email to my Lexmark eSupport rep. I did my best to be polite, concise, and comprehensive.

Hi {removed},

Thank you for your reply. I have followed your instructions exactly (and have even done some additional troubleshooting), but the tiny near-invisible matrix of yellow dots appears on printed documents regardless. I do NOT think this is an issue with toner cartridges or photoconductor units, but I will leave that for someone else to judge.

Here are the steps I have completed:

0. Before swapping any Photoconductor units, I printed a test page from the Print Quality Pages menu, and scanned it at high resolution. I've attached a file that demonstrates this: procedure_experiment0.jpg. This cropped image is the printer's serial number, and is my "control group".

1. I swapped the Yellow and Magenta Photoconductor units as per your instructions. I printed a second set of Print Quality Pages and scanned the results again, please see procedure_experiment1.jpg.

2. After swapping the Yellow and Magenta Photoconductors, the color did not change to Magenta.

3. Since the color did not change, I can safely conclude that the Photoconductor unit is not defective, based on your information.

4. Even though, according to the above test, the Photoconductor units are not defective, I have included the part numbers for your reference:
C53030X (4 units)
Serial numbers: CAS0633253B3 (Y), CAS0633253C7 (C), CAS0633253C4 (M), CAS063325397 (Black).

5. You said that if the Photoconductor swap didn't work, the toner must be defective. I decided to swap the Magenta and Yellow Toner Cartridges to see if this was true. When I printed a third set of Print Quality Pages, the dots had changed from Yellow to Magenta (see procedure_experiment2.jpg).

Therefore, either BOTH cartridges are defective, or the problem is something else. I would be willing to confirm this with the cyan and black cartridges, if need be.

Yellow Cartridge - C5220YS, Serial CAA080421969
Magenta Cartridge - C5220MS, Serial CAA080585567

I have attached scans of the menu settings pages as per your request. There is adequate toner to complete any print job.

Here is my contact information:
Name: Brahm {removed}
Contact Number: {removed}
Business/Company Name: N/A - the printer was purchased for home office use.
Street Address: {removed}

I would like to re-link you to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's research on the "yellow dots":

If the yellow dots are a result of a security measure implemented by Lexmark, I would appreciate acknowledgment of the fact. Is there is an option to disable the forensic tracking dots? If not, is there a software update that will allow me to do this? If there is no software update yet, is there one in development? Are there Lexmark printers that do not print these dots, and is it possible arrange an exchange for such a model?

I appreciate your assistance in this matter, and sincerely thank you for the time you have dedicated to my inquiry so far!

To be truthful, I do not know what to expect for a response.

I may receive additional technical support - for example "take out the toner and shake it". That's fine and I will play along, but I am extremely doubtful of that working at this point. I would like this issue of consumer rights (knowing what security mechanisms are present in a product you purchase) are present, and how they affect my privacy.

I may receive information about an exchange. It's theoretically possible I can exchange this model for one without forensic tracking dots, but doubtful. Were I to receive another yellow-dot printer in the mail, I would have to start from square one.

I may receive no response. I might "know too much". If that's the case, it's time to write my polite letter of complaint to their customer services, privacy officer, or whomever it is applicable to. If that fails, there is always the Executive Email Carpet Bomb.

The best case is a response that will explain how to disable these dots. Somehow... I feel that is too much to hope for.

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