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Inka dinka don’t

December 5, 2006

With apologies to Jimmy Durante

Staples beats Epson in the inkjet recycling department. Lots of nonprofits used to accept Epson cartridges, along with other brands, until just the past few months. And Staples used to give those nifty $3 coupons per cartridge returned to the store, also until recently. So what’s an environmentally conscious user to do with the 11 cartridges she’s accumulated with no place to unload them?

Today I called Epson and was referred merely to an email address to send my query. No live person, right now. Not what I wanted to hear. Next I called Staples and actually spoke to a live human being who not only listened to my plaint but seemed to share my concern and even went so far as to be helpful! What a shock! Someone who knew the real meaning of customer service in the sense of The Cluetrain Manifesto, i.e., markets are conversations.

So what’s the solution? No more $3 coupons for Epson cartridges — they’re not in as great demand as Dell or HP, so it appears to be a supply and demand thing. But Staples does have a “Recycle for Education” program that’s spelled out on its website, and an express request to have all brands of inkjet cartridges returned to the store even if they’re not eligible for the coupon promotion. Staples recycles them for plastic and metal content.

Bouquets to Staples for doing the right thing for the right reason AND entering a conversation with a customer. Brickbats to Epson for just not being there.

Hmmm… wonder if there’s any correlation between this recycling abdication and the pending settlement of the class action suit against Epson for inkjet cartridges that supposedly were “empty” and suspended printer functions but in reality substantial ink still remained in them…

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