One of the unfortunate parts of trying to run my own business is that I have very little money with which to do so.  Since it’s not Christmas yet, all I have in the way of cash flow is some savings that I put aside and my (gulp) credit cards.  I’m trying to mitigate some of my business costs with DIY solutions, but as I said before, my time is limited, and I’m only one person.  So if I have to spend money, I have to be stingy about it.

Of course, Murphy’s law being what it is, just as I decide I’m going to save money by printing music and business cards myself, my printer breaks.  I spent several hours swearing at the stupid thing, but the printer would not be moved to do my bidding.  After trolling the tech forums for a solution, I found out that the only thing that seemed to work about 80% of the time was to replace the printhead, a part that would cost almost $70.  Ugh.

Since that’s about as much as a whole new printer, I decided to take a trip to Staples and see what kind of multi-function machines were out there (my old printer was a Canon MP780 scanner/copier/fax/printer, so I preferred to replace all the functions if possible).  Armed with my trusty Treo by my side to check prices on the internet while I shopped, I wandered the aisles, poking at Brother, Canon, HP, and Epson models.

I finally settled on two choices:  a Canon MP620, coming in just under $150, and an HP Officejet J5780, which was on sale for $75.  The Canon got better reviews, but the HP wasn’t bad, and the fact that I could get it for half the price of the Canon made me choose the HP.  Unfortunately, it looked like other people had the same idea as I did, because there were no boxes underneath the display model.  When I asked at the front desk, they said the only model they had left was the display model.  I could either go to Marlton (14 miles away and a good 30 minute drive) and pick one up, or I could buy the floor model in front of me.

My inner miser spoke up and said I could save money on gas if I just took the floor model.  After getting assurances that I could return it if something went wrong, I plunked down my $75 (plus $14.99 for a 2-yr warrantee) and walked away with the printer and a bag full of parts and directions (they couldn’t find the box).

When I got home and started putting the printer together, I realized that there was one important component missing:  the paper tray.  I called the store and asked if they happened to have a paper tray wandering around anywhere, and after being passed off to three or four people, I was informed that they did not have the tray.  My two options were to return the printer for a full refund or go through the warrantee company to get the part replaced.

Hmm.  Now this is becoming more trouble than it’s worth!  I saved money on the printer, true, but if I have to drive back, return the printer, get another printer (and/or maybe drive to Marlton for their HP, if they still have one), I’ll have spent about $75 worth of time (and gas), which would make it equivalent to the purchase of the Canon.  Or if I wait for the warrantee company, I could get the part shipped to me for free, but it’ll most likely take several weeks for the claim to go through.  Argh!

I decided to go with the warrantee.  Since I purchased it, I might as well make my $14.99 work for me.  I jury-rigged the computer so paper can go into the printer with undue fuss.  It’s not pretty, but it’s functional.

Once again, DIY saves the day.

On Trying to Save Money
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