I rarely do product reviews, and even more rarely write anything negative about something we have sold in the shop, but my experience with OKI has really been something special.

We have mostly sold Canon and Epson inkjets, and HP, Brother and Fuji/Xerox laser printers. Occasionally we have had a dud, and when we have had a problem the manufacturers have generally been helpful, replacing failed product or arranging for repairs. Then there is OKI.

I wanted something at a lower price point to offer as a special. Synnex (national IT wholesalers) had the OKI B2520 multi-function printer with an RRP of $299 for sale at $159. You have to add GST and freight to that, but even so, I thought we could sell these at $249, have some happy customers who had got a good deal, and still make a few dollars. So I bought four to see how they would go.

They all sold. But three out of four came back with problems.

First customer back – there are no Windows 7 drivers. Windows 7 has been out for over two years, so this is simply inexcusable for a ‘current’ product. You can get the B2520 MFP to run under Windows 7, but it constantly reports that it needs troubleshooting, and the bundled ‘software suite’ will not run at all. I can put up with the trouble-shooting requests, and I would not have used the suite anyway, so I gave the customer a new Fuji printer and took the OKI home, where it replaced my older but Win 7 compatible, cheap to run and super reliable Sharp MFP.

Next customer, annoyed for two reasons. First, I had sold her the OKI as a budget printer. But the RRP on cartridges is over $250. My reaction to this when I first tried to order some was WTF!? I would not have ordered the printers if I had known this. How can I tell a customer I am selling her a good value printer if the cartridges cost more than the printer, and twice as much as comparable cartridges for Canon or HP printers?

Anyway, I ordered three OKI toner cartridges, and sold one to my client at cost. She was back two days later. The ‘reset card’ that comes with the cartridge had not worked, and having just installed a cartridge that cost her $200, the printer was still telling her she needed to replace the toner. I went to her home and checked. She was right. The card simply would not reset the printer.

Efforts to contact OKI and ask for a replacement card were unsuccessful. The only possible purpose for a ‘reset card’ is to force consumers to buy the exorbitantly priced OKI toner cartridges instead of generics, and to stop people refilling them. Greed, in other words.

So I gave her a Samsung MFP, and found a place in Hong Kong where I could order a replacement reset card for the B2520 for about $30. The OKI went into my office, where it replaced an older, but Win 7 compatible and reliable HP printer.

Third customer. He had the same problem as customer number one – no Win7 drivers – but like me was willing to put up with this as long as the OKI B2520 actually printed.

His wasn’t printing any more. Instead there was a message on the printer LCD screen saying ‘No printer.’ Yep. the printer was saying ‘No printer.’ Nothing would print from the computer, and if you tried to use any of the stand-alone functions – copy or fax, for example, you got a message saying ‘Printer busy’ for a few seconds, before it went back to saying ‘No printer.’ Great.

OKI B2520 Printer 'No Printer' Message

I definitely did not need or want another OKI printer, so I told the client I would contact OKI and try to arrange repairs under warranty. After some to-ing and fro-ing, a representative confirmed it would be repaired under their ‘return to base’ warranty. I have no idea how long that might take, and my client needs a printer for his small office. I gave him a new Fuji printer. Gol darn it. So now this dud OKI is mine again.

But at least I can get it repaired for free, right? Well, yes. But the nearest OKI repair centre is 200 kilometres away, and I live on a island. Cost to get it there, about $50 in each direction, plus packing materials and time. So I will get it back having cost me an additional $100 on top of what I paid for it in the first place.

But I can’t sell it as new now. It isn’t new. It has to be a secondhand or demo model. So the absolute most I can hope to sell it for is $200. And I would need to give the new buyer a warranty, and put a new cartridge in it. So on top of the $190 or so it cost me in the first place, I would be spending an additional $100 in transport costs plus $200 on a new cartridge, to be able to sell the printer for $200 at most, and have to offer a warranty, which given the odds, well you get the picture.

So the latest OKI B2520 to come back to me is not going back to OKI, it is going to the dump, and I will never sell another OKI product again.

My advice to anyone thinking of buying an OKI printer? Don’t.