Lexmark has a funny way of working

I occasionally find friends who are seduced by a low price or just don’t know anything about the history of equipment. One person bought a Lexmark which I have only had problems with as a tech. This is another example of why Lexmark is a printer brand I avoid. I prefer Canon for home and HP printers for a business.

The Lexmark was a color laser printer and the print quality was average. It had gotten very slow to print and ultimately would fail to print, take a long time to print, or distort whatever was printed. I looked into it and had to call Lexmark for support since it was acting so strangely. It wouldn’t connect to the network and I couldn’t manage it through its physical controls. It turns out that you have to clear the NVRAM and reset the printer to factory defaults several times and let it reboot. So I test on the iPhone, iPad, laptop and everything works great. I go to the manager’s office with the printer and it fails to print from the iPhone and iPad and very slow on the laptop.

At this point after spending 3 hours on the issue, it is time to throw in the towel. It just isn’t worth investing this kind of time in. I discuss getting a new HP color laserjet and I get approval. I test it, install it and it works perfectly. Part of being a professional is knowing when to throw in the towel. In my opinion they should throw away the printer and I told them that. You don’t waste your life dealing with junk.

So why did I say Lexmark has a funny way of working? The Lexmark tech told me that this printer can either work and accept jobs wirelessly, or wired but it can’t do both. It had a Wireless access point at the top. This is completely different from any other printer that I have used. I have had the most experience with Airprint on HP devices and they worked great through a wireless network no matter what manner the signal was sent to them. Choose quality and simplify your life.

Stories from my Past: Did you try rebooting it?

Most people who work in an office know the tired refrain from IT people: Did you reboot it? It is really amazing how often that advice works. I will share an example.

I had someone call in for help once and he said his computer couldn’t print. Ok that is a problem. He also shares that his neighbors computers can’t print either. Now it becomes a device or network issue, not a local computer problem. As he is talking I try to find out more details. It used to work on Thursday but it doesn’t work anymore. The printer was just installed a few weeks ago, so he thinks perhaps that has something to do with it. It doesn’t print anything so it’s not application or computer specific. I ask when the last time it was turned off and turned on. He pauses and thinks about it. He says “I didn’t know you had to restart it.” I said just humor me and let’s try restarting it.

So he restarts the printer. It takes a long time to restart which is typical because it is a huge multifunction business copier, scanner, printer machine. Which is probably why it doesn’t get restarted. Then he tries on the first computer to print. Success! He tries on the second. Success! He concludes that it must have needed to be restarted.

I ask him if he got the email I sent with 5 tips to keep computers working efficiently. He said he was out a few days last week. In that email I shared that things should be restarted when they have an issue. Its cheap, easy and might save a phone call to technical support. He promised to read it.

When you deal with computers sometimes the issue is very complex and requires a great deal of understanding to fix. Most of the time it just takes common sense, and a good troubleshooting methodology. As one of my former bosses said when he was hiring me “Can you do the job, it’s not rocket science.” Was that an insult or compliment?