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Author Topic: Epson 7900 - LLK channel clogging, banding - what a disappointment!  (Read 30804 times)
Alexandra M
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« on: August 24, 2011, 11:40:46 PM »
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So, I purchased an Epson 7900 in May of 2010 . It worked BEAUTIFULLY for 13 months, and I was in love with the prints that came out!
This July, however, the LLK channel got clogged, and no amount of cleaning (or power cleaning) would help (still printing the same clogged pattern, consistently only in LLK section - other inks are fine). Along with the clogging came horizontal gray bending (now I have gray lines on my prints), which I am sure is caused by the clogging problem.

I read this forum a lot, and researched the heck out of this clogging and banding problem, and tried just about all the possible solutions in the service manual - to no avail. I am also noticing that this is a VERY common problem with 7900s during their first, second, third year of life.

Of course, the printer by now is out of warranty. So I started calling Epson service centers to find out the costs of repair. I live in Chicago, and was expecting the quote to be maybe $500 $700 on the high end - but boy, was I NOT prepared for the astronomical numbers they gave me! Turns out, the closest service center is 20-30 miles outside of the city! Over the phone, a rep (who was brief and not very friendly) concluded that a print head replacement was necessary, which alone costs $1300!! What??! Then, a service call would consist of a $100 travel fee, plus a 3-4 hour job at $175 / per hour. And then maybe, just maybe the problem will be fixed. Or not. That's close to $2000 repair without any guarantee whatsoever that I'll end up with a fully working printer! All this for just ONE color not working! ...Gulp...what?!! what???!!!!!!

In hindsight, of course, realize that I should have purchased a warranty extension, which is also pricey, by the way, at $750 per year. But I didn't. Because I thought I had a quality working machine. Which is not supposed to break down after a mere 13 months!!

So my bigger question is (well, make that several questions): WHY are Epsons so darn fragile? Are they just DESIGNED to break? And why does Epson 7900 business model demand ASTRONOMICAL repairs for a minor problem, that is nearly just as expensive as the machine itself? And why does Epson community seem to just accept this as a fact of life? (or do they?)

In the meantime, my very first ever large format printer, the 24" HP DesignJet 130 (now serving as a back-up printer), is a little work horse, and has been plugging along since 2002. Yes, it is not as versatile or fast as Epson, but it makes quality prints, and has not given me a single problem in all of 9 years! (except for seven or eight failed print heads, which are super easy to replace and cost about $35 a piece). So I know technology CAN be durable, and it is up to the manufacturer to focus on making good equipment or to just be in business of selling paper and ink (and I think, Epson chooses the latter).

As for me - no thanks, Epson 7900, I am not spending that much dough just for the possibility of bringing you back to normal. I will go back to printing on my 9 yr-old HP, then save my money, and buy me Canon or a new HP printer. I no longer like you, Epson. You are a huge disappointment. Just remember, that by selling me a flimsy, sensitive, and expensive-to-fix machine you have lost my future paper and ink business as well.

I'm afraid to ask...but anyone has input on this?
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 09:57:17 AM by Alexandra M » Logged
Farmer
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 12:45:53 AM »
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Did you try speaking to Epson?
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Alexandra M
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2011, 12:52:54 AM »
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Oh, sure! Emailed Epson tech support - no reply. Then called Epson. Their answer is: "yep, looks like you're out of warranty! We'll have our service company (Decision One, I think?) call you back with a service quote". And that was THAT.
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Blinder
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2011, 02:54:24 AM »
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Depending on which country you're in I'd be inclined to speak to a consumer body who might approach the company.
In Australia it's often assumed that 13 months is very like 12 months and the duty of expectation is that the company would honour the agreement.
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ippolitois
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2011, 09:26:19 AM »
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Sadly, I have come to the same conclusion. My next printer will not be an Epson. There primary goal is head cleanings and not printing. I agree with Blinder, continue calling Epson or direct them to this forum and maybe someone will advocate on your behalf.

Paul
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 09:28:05 AM by ippolitois » Logged
Alexandra M
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2011, 09:55:57 AM »
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Thanks... sigh....
I'm in U.S. (Chicago); not sure if there is a consumer body, everyone seems to be fighting for themselves when it comes down to these issues. Even Epson's website is so NOT user friendly! (information is hard to find, and they don't seem to have a user forum, something that HP has and which came in very handy when learning about my much older HP printer.) Perhaps the only answer is to call Epson back and argue, which I will try to do; but doubt anything will come of that.
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Gigi
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2011, 10:25:19 AM »
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I had a similar experience with an Epson 4000 about 3 years ago, also in Chicago. Epson nationally was no help, I took it out to Decision One, got the full song and dance, and was really a bit upset as well.

At the end of the day, they worked with Epson, tried repairs, etc., and for about $600 got a new 4000 for me, very nicely. I don't know if you'll have the same experience, but once working with Decision One, it seemed in an odd way to work out reasonably.... and happily.
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Geoff
Alexandra M
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2011, 02:28:24 PM »
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Just got off the phone with Epson tech support, plead my case - and got nothing. Asked - aren't you interested in keeping me as a customer since I spend $100+ a week on paper and ink alone? Still got nothing. Asked him to maybe diagnose the problem a little better, since he is Epson tech support after all - maybe the issue isn't a print head, maybe it is swiper/pump/cap/whatever. Still got nothing. His only answer was "Sorry, if you're out of warranty, it will be a billable job. Call a service support center." That is ALL I got from Epson. They're useless. Calling Decision One later, will report on how that goes.   
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gromit
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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2011, 06:34:39 PM »
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I'm afraid to ask...but anyone has input on this?

I suggest you write a polite letter to Epson detailing the problem and history of other issues and see what happens. My 7900 died with a similar issue and was swapped, even though out of warranty. Not saying that Epson will do the same wherever you are, but these products have been out long enough for the company to have a fair idea of what the issues are. Nothing is perfect. Though as pointed out by first level tech support you contacted they are under no obligation to do so, the company does stand by their products and reputation as the leading brand of fine art printers and may decide to act out of goodwill. Agitating on internet forums isn't the way to go about it.
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Alexandra M
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2011, 10:27:44 PM »
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Not sure if I'm "agitating on internet forums", Gromit - just listing what happened to me, and my Epson 7900 experience. Am I upset, irritated, "sticker shocked"? Sure!! As anyone would be. But I thought this forum was as much about sharing a negative issue as it is about describing a positive one. After all, we learn from each other's experience, no? And because of YOUR and other members' replies I choose to pursue the problem - so thank you, and I am glad I made the original forum post.
You're right, Epson tech support doesn't owe me anything. Am I polite and thankful when speaking with them? Absolutely! But I was under impression, since they are called "tech support", they would at least be willing to discuss the details of the problem with me. They chose not to. Ok.
Moving on then. Waiting on a service rep to call me back from Decision One. Will report on how that goes.
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enduser
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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2011, 08:17:13 AM »
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Firstly, there's three leading brands of this class of printer: secondly, gromit, he's every right to relay experiences as he's done.  (or "she" if it be so).
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MHMG
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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2011, 10:52:08 AM »
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The Wide format aqueous inkjet printers (at least up to the 44 inch width) from the big "three" vendors all seem to exhibit a perverse distortion of the "Gillette Razor blade" business model. Any out of warranty repairs can quickly overshadow the purchase of another unit, especially if the break down occurs when you will also soon need another full set of cartridges. In the razor blade model, one simply threw away a small piece of plastic when buying a new set of blades.  Seems a shame to consign a huge 44 inch machine to the junkyard when it's time to buy a new set of inks or need a head replacement, but the economics have essentially gotten to this point of absurdity.  I recently purchased a new 44 inch Canon iPF 8300 which comes with a full set of 330 ml ink tanks (about $1800 replacement value) for $2200 plus free shipping. The dealer threw in a "free" IPad 2 into the deal as well. Meanwhile, I had a perfectly viable 8100 in my studio, but it needed a full set of inks (it still does).  In other words, for all practical purposes I bought a set of inks and got a free printer.  When asked if I wanted the extended warranty (about $1200) on the new machine, I laughed. I said the economics dictated that my "warranty" should simply be the purchase of a second unit.  Use the second set of inks in the first unit, and leave the second unit sitting as a "spare" in my garage! It would cost less than the warranty that they wanted to sell me.

I feel your pain!

cheers,
Mark

« Last Edit: August 26, 2011, 10:57:48 AM by MHMG » Logged
Alexandra M
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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2011, 08:03:49 PM »
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So, the printer tech called me back (from Decision One) and I am not sure if I'm comforted by my options. The gist of what he said was: "Well, I asked other guys around about your color clog problem and it could be the swiper, or the pump cap, or a print head issue. If you want, I can come over and clean your swiper, and if that doesn't solve it, we can go from there. Then I can come back and bring other parts".

I have him scheduled to come over a clean the swiper in the end of the week - which would be $175 - 1 hour job, plus $100 travel fee. I am suspicious, however, that it will not do anything (with $275 down the drain) and we will have to schedule another visit when he actually tries to replace parts (with a much, much higher bill). Also, I wonder if him having to "ask other guys about your clogging issue" indicates that he is not that experienced with working with Epson 7900s.

Have a couple of days to decide if I want to cancel his appointment and forget Epsons completely (and just buy a brand new NON-Epson printer), or if I want to take a chance on him. Not an encouraging situation. What to do, what to do.....
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langier
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« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2011, 09:08:00 PM »
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Other ideas...

First try a pair cleaning if you haven't. Next run a  "super clean" cycle. If you haven't tried either, it may help. Run a nozzle test pattern before each cleaning technique and then after you are done and see if that does the job.

I can tell you from experience that my old Epson 4000 needs about 6-10 cleanings after sitting a couple of months to get the head cleared and running like a charm. Sometimes, it's a matter of running an "Italian Tune-up" and simply run several cleaning cycles.

Another idea is to take a paper towel soaked in water and very damp, not dripping, and stick it under the head overnight to simply get it moist, then pull the paper towel and run a check. This seemed to work on the older (4000, 7600, 9600 and I think the x800 printers). Not sure if it would work with your 7900, but it may be worth a try.

Good luck in whichever approach you try!

Of course your results may vary...
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Gemmtech
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2011, 02:10:15 AM »
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Mark,

Who did you buy the 8300 from?  I remember there was a company giving away a free IPAD last year

Gary
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BobDavid
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« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2011, 08:25:23 AM »
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I'm biting the bullet and having DecisionOne come out to repair my 9900. I've talked to several authorized Epson dealers over the past couple days. All have said that the 9900 machine has the best overall output of any pigment-based printer in the market. All of the dealers commented that the 9900 is a machine that is prone to numerous problems that are well known to Epson. For instance, right now my 9900 doesn't "see" the yellow cartridge until I remove another cartridge. It doesn't matter whether the other cartridge is from the left or the right bay. Then, once I reinstall the cartridge that I pulled out, the Epson fails to see the yellow cartridge. This problem first surfaced when the printer was only a couple months out of warranty. I believe the problem started when I first replaced the original 110 ml orange cartridge with a 350 ml orange cartridge. I battled it out with Epson and they agreed to send me a replacement yellow cartridge. Of course, that did not solve the problem. I got a quote from DecisionOne for $1800 to fix the problem. Before agreeing to that, I spent the better part of a morning cleaning the chip contacts on all of the cartridges in the left bay. I cleaned off the gold-plated pins in the bay that make contact with the chips that are at the top of the carts. Miraculously, this worked. But, whenever I've had to change out a cartridge from the left bay, the problem with the Epson not "seeing" the yellow cartridge came back. I've been able to coax the 9900 to "see" the yellow by removing the yellow cart and going over the contacts with a white eraser. This workaround saved me the dreaded service call--until this Monday. I spent over four hours trying to get the Epson to read the yellow cartridge. To no avail, I contacted Epson. I spoke to three different techs and one supervisor. They offered to send me a new yellow cartridge. I declined, because I have four spent yellow cartridges that I have tested, and the Epson refuses tor "read" any of them. So, I have scheduled DecisionOne to come out. Now they are quoting $275 for the service call that includes a minimum of one hour labor. In addition ordered $800 dollars of parts from Epson for the repair.


Every dealer that I have spoken to has said that the 9900 is wrought with problems. It is an expensive machine to fix. They all recommend buying the extended warranty. The 9800 was the best machine Epson produced from a reliability and maintenance standpoint. Although its output gamma is smaller, it is a much more robust machine. I wish I still had my 9800. Unfortunately, it got zapped by lightning and had to be replaced. The 9900 produces beautiful ouotput, but I think Epson over designed it and released it to the market before all of its technical idiosyncracies were properly vetted. Epson does not cut any slack on repiar costs once their machines are out of warranty. Pity, I've purchased four Epson wide format machines over the past five years. I spend thousands of dollars a year on Epson media.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 08:38:18 AM by BobDavid » Logged
davidh202
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« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2011, 10:05:06 AM »
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Alexandra,
I'm sorry, but any repair person that says "they need to change one part after another to see which one is at fault" should not be trusted.
There are specific diagnostic measures that should be performed that will indicate which part or parts are faulty.

This used to be a fairly common pratice in Auto repair years ago before computer diagnostics, and a sure sign of  incompetance, or simply a lack of experience, and can be very costly to the customer but very profitable to the "repairman".!

Please check these people out read allthey have to say about clogs and maintainance from the left hand menues on the page. buy some cleaning solution first and see if it works before you invest that kind of money.
Sorry,but I would  not use plain water and paper towels that can introduce more fibers on the head.
 http://americaninkjetsystems.com/
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Garnick
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« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2011, 01:38:41 PM »
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Alexandra,

You've had many replies to your initial post and many have expressed a degree of disappointment or disillusionment with Epson and how they are treating the x900 series printers. Before I took ownership of my 9900 I had already started a log for potential issues, based on information gleaned from this and other forums. I will admit that the log entries grew pretty quickly within the first 5 months, mostly clogging issues of course. The LLK is used in practically every print you produce and is likely to be the cart that will exhibit the most obvious problems. My first service call was at about the 6 month point and there were at least three more after that. Two were covered under the initial warranty and consisted of a new pump/cap assembly and an attempt to replace the print head. The new head was defective and the original one was reinstalled. As the warranty was about to expire I bit the bullet(first time ever) and extended it for one year, with an option for another year when this one is finished. The day that I extended the warranty I had another service call and the head was replaced. All tolled, the pump/cap station has been replaced twice. The second time there were parts broken off when the tech opened the box it was shipped in, so he had to reorder and make another call just for that. Since I extended the warranty I've had one call and the printer has been working well since. Here in Canada the warranty extension cost almost $1300, so I think you're doing well at $750, albeit, an expense you weren't counting on. I look at it as an insurance policy and will be extending it in the future if possible. I know this is not what you want to hear now, and I hope you have some GOOD luck with Decision One. I get dealer net pricing on all Epson products, so obviously I'll be sticking with them. That, and the fact that the printers produce a superior product which my customers require and appreciate. In my opinion the warranty extension is a small price to pay for peace of mind, although I'm sure there are those who would disagree that it should be necessary.

Gary
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Alexandra M
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« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2011, 02:25:08 PM »
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Thank you ALL for your replies. And to all who experience similar issues / clogging / defects with Epson x900 series, thanks for sharing stories.

Today I went to my last resort as far as cleaning cycles go (after unsuccessfully trying regular, paired, and power cleaning for weeks) - went with "super strong cleaning" in service mode. Made absolutely no difference in now almost 100% clogged LLK. (I think "super strong cleaning" wasted about 10% of each ink cartridge.)

Davidh202, I'm afraid you are probably right about this repair guy. I'll call him back and ask some more specific questions, but in the end will probably cancel the appointment (unless he suddenly surprises me with wealth of knowledge). Perhaps I will also call Decision One back and ask to speak with someone else in the area.

I'm willing to try cleaning solution (heck, at this point, as more and more I am inclined to throw the printer out the window, I would try anything! The printer is not under warranty and I have nothing to lose). The problem is, I wouldn't even know how to GET to the print head of an Epson 7900. I suspect that Epson 7900 is purposely designed so a regular user can NOT access the print head easily. I am pretty technically inept when it comes to electronic equipment repairs. Maybe Americaninjetsystems will be willing to explain how to use a cleaning solution on an Epson 7900. I'll give them a call too.

The fun continues...
« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 02:26:57 PM by Alexandra M » Logged
davidh202
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« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2011, 03:18:59 PM »
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Alexandra,
 I  can appreciate your frustration, so far my 7900 is fine (knocks on wood).I am also abbout to hit the 13 month mark Roll Eyes
The instructions for moving the head to get at the capping station are in the manual for the 7900 available on their site in that same Maintainance Tab Pull down menu,on the left of the page.I was a camera repair tech in another lifetime and my mentor taught me to start with the most simple inexpensive and obvious fix first.That would be trying to soften and clean the LLK channel first. Once you have the cleaning fluid applied, let the head sit for a day or so.I am sure they will give you help on the phone.Read their testimonials.I would complain to Epson and see if you can't get a replacement Cart for all the trouble you've experienced Remember you can catch more flies with honey be nice on the phone and explain your utter frustration.
The directions to release the Carriage (print head assembly) are on page 388 of the manual.Once the carriage is released you can physically move the head assembly (carriage), to the left of the machine to get at the capping station  to apply cleaner to the pads. Follow their directions on how much to use.
I would strongly suggest reading all their material available in that section on maintainance, clogs, and cleaning including the manual, they make much sense.At this point it is possible your LLK channel is starved for ink rather than clooged, (explained in the manual I believe), but I would still attempt a try with the cleaning solution before resorting to further expense.
 I have no affiliation but so far they are the most informative source I have found.

Question.. do you shut off the printer and allow the head to park when you'r done printing?
I have also switched all the nozzle checks and cleanings to Auto and have way fewer problems than I did in the begining. Wink
Good Luck. Please let us know the final outcome.
David
« Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 03:51:58 PM by davidh202 » Logged
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