It Never Hurts to Double Check

Recently my all-in-one printer/scanner/copier experienced a malfunction. During the initialization process, the print head moves around a bit, dancing a noisy little jig, and then the light on the scanner head illuminates, and the head moves out a few inches from its “home.” After a moment or two, the scanner head does its own jig and then goes back out of sight. This is where the problem occurred.

Instead of retreating into its original position under the glass and plastic housing just off to the right of the lid, the scanner head kept trying to creep further into its hole. Unable to find its den, it would bang into the housing and make a terrible grinding noise. Just when the grinding would become unbearable, well, actually about two minutes after it was annoying, it would stop and an error message would display. “Scanner failure – please turn the unit off and back on,” would scroll across the read-out.

The really bad news is that this was the only thing that the unit would do. Even though there were no errors from the printer, I was unable to print because the device was too caught up with the fact that the scanner had failed to do anything else. After my initial frustration over the fact that I did not want to use the scanner, I wanted to print a coupon and go to the store, I decided to investigate and solve the scanner failure.

Seeing as how the unit is an HP 2175xi, I decided that the best place to start would be google, of course. Then I decided that I will open two tabs, and let my google searching skills compete directly with the HP website. The HP site had a tab for support followed by a dropdown menu where I chose the correct piece of hardware. Google brought back a slew of websites that related to my search, “HP 2175xi scanner failure.”

The third choice on google, was a do it yourself forum related to fixing printers. I decided to give that one a shot and went back to the HP tab while it loaded. HP had a long list of potential errors that my unit could have. I decided to be fair and type the same search, “HP 2175xi scanner failure” in the search bar on the HP site. I found a few knowledge base related links and started to check them out. After trying a “power cycle,” which I actually did a few days prior to no avail, I was informed that I should do a “partial reset” and sent to another link to cross reference my printer model with the key-code that I would need to complete the task. For my model the official HP site suggested that I unplug the power cable from the printer, wait so many seconds, and then while pressing the cancel and left arrow buttons simultaneously, plug it back in.

I unplugged the unit and then went back to the forum. The forum said that the scanner is grinding because it cannot find its starting point, most likely due to dirt or a haze on the glass. Most of the posts were arguing over whether or not a partial reset could ever fix this issue and if it could be skipped. The most common fix seemed to be dismantling my printer to clean the underside of the glass and the mirror beneath the light bulb on that scanner head. A few posts claimed that the reset did solve the problem and even gave directions on how to the “full reset” that the HP tech was sure to tell me to do if I opened a trouble ticket. I noted a few links to other forum posts where someone gave step by step directions to get to the glass on several different model HP printers. I opened them in separate tabs to see which would refer to my model, and went back to the HP tab.

I held in the cancel and right arrow keys and plugged the printer back in. I read the rest of the directions which said if the “partial reset” did not correct the problem then I should click contact HP and fill out an incident. I clicked the contact HP link as soon as I heard the grinding sound. It took me a few minutes to enter the model and serial number, and to make a good guess as to when I purchased the printer. I was then able to type a description of the problem and list all of the steps that I went through to attempt to find a solution. I followed the advice from the forum on holding down the cancel and black copy buttons to set up a full reset so that I could add that to the list of attempted corrections, and then sent the incident report. One of the pieces of information that they requested on the form was my competency level, which I chose the highest available.

With a gut feeling that I would get an email in an hour telling me that the printer was out of warranty and they either could not help me, or they could for a fee equal to or greater than the cost to replace the printer with a newer model, I decided to follow the directions from the forum to clean the underside of the glass. I had to go to the garage and get a number 10 torx head screwdriver, and a small flat head. While I was AFK (away from keyboard, for you three who did not know) I received a reply from HP saying “do not reply to this message.” It was basically an indication that they received my request and a technician would be contacting me with more information soon.

By the time the technician sent an email, I had already followed the directions to open the top of my printer, cleaned the glass and the mirror under the bulb, put the printer back together, tested it, hooked it back up to my desktop computer, printed the coupon, bragged to my wife that I had fixed her broken printer, and gotten a snack from the refrigerator. The email said that I already tried everything that they were going to recommend and they were “sorry to inform” me that I would have to take my printer to an authorized HP service center. I replied back with the link that I found on the forum and advised the technician that I had followed the steps contained therein and my printer was once again fully operational.

After I returned home with my purchase from the store, which was free with overage, after the coupon that I had printed and the store coupon at the end of my receipt (but that is a different article), I checked my email for a reply from the HP technician. His communication expressed his happiness that I was able to get my printer running again, but did not explain why I had to sniff out the fix myself or why I was not given the link that eventually corrected the problem by him. Considering the link that I followed from the forum actually pointed back to a knowledge base article on the HP website, I was kind of disappointed that the HP tech had not pointed it out to me. I also could not find that article through several attempts of searching with the HP menus and search options available.

The good news is that this is the longest that I have ever had a printer in my life, and thanks to a little skill at google, and the ability to follow directions and having a little patience in not hurrying and breaking any of the clips or cables, I am going to be able to use it a bit longer. I will add that just because you read something on the internet, does not make it true. Also, there are people in this world who would recommend that you do something to try to help yourself, knowing that their steps will do more harm than good. I used common sense and read ALL of the instructions before I began.

Companies offer tech support as an added service, but they will make more money consumers replace their products rather than have them repaired. I am certain that the HP technician was not trying to deceive me by not sharing the document that I was able to find myself. He may not have seen that document or even though I put that my level of knowledge was high, the techs may be instructed to assume that the consumers are not that savvy. It is better that they did not give me information, than if they gave me information that I used incorrectly, damaged my equipment, and blamed the technician for it. This, by the way, happens a lot to technical support representatives.

I worked on a helpdesk where the person who called in was the onsite technician for a financial institution. He called about an issue with his keyboard and even though I advised that he look at the plug of the cable and remember its orientation before removing it, when he plugged it back in four seconds later, he turned it, forced it, bent the pins and wanted me to send him a free replacement because he damaged it while following my instructions. I can relate with and certainly understand why they might not feel comfortable instructing every single customer to take the control panel from a printer, remove the top cover and take out the glass.

But, I am equally certain that every day someone is being advised to trash, recycle, or take a piece of equipment in for a costly repair, that they could probably do themselves if they researched the issue and exercised care and caution while following the directions. A similar model of printer/scanner/copier with added features such as wireless connectivity, would have cost me between $60 and $150, and would have rendered the spare color and black ink cartridges that I own useless. I am not sure how much a repair would have cost but I am going to guess they would have charged me as much as $25 even if all they were going to do was advise me to replace the unit. Some local electronics shops may have found the article that I used and only charged me about that much or twice that price to do the simple repair for me. The “HP cetified repair center” was certain to charge even more.

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One Response to It Never Hurts to Double Check

  1. Gail says:

    Well you have given me some ideas since my printer (laser) is printing like an ink jet about to run out of ink it is so light. Since I know that isn’t how laser’s work (at least the last one we had didn’t) I think I will try to problem solve this.

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