I’m so blue…

Back in the mid 1990’s, my color copy business was booming!  This was still the era of high priced color copies, not the sub – $.30 you can get now.  We were running over 20,000 clicks per month on a bad month. This was KILLING our poor little copier, not to mention that I had to pay someone to stand in front of that thing for several hours per day when they could have been doing something else.  So after a month or so of shopping, we decided to splurge on a new copier.  I don’t recall the model number, but it was a new Canon high speed color machine.  By high speed I mean it was able to do over 60 copies per minute once it got going as compared to the maybe 12 per minute we were getting before.  Just as a point of reference, the machine I have now is considered a slow machine, and it does about 75 per minute.

So after we sign all the paperwork, in comes this huge, beautiful new copier.  It is probably about 12 feet long and all shiny and new, and in about 5 or 6 pieces that need to be put together.  So in walks the tech and after a brief review to make sure all the pieces are here, he begins to assemble our new toy. About 2 hours later he has it all together and starts to put the supplies in.  Machines now have these huge toner bottles that you slam into the machine and they sit inside dispensing multi-colored goodness until empty.  Back then, they had internal hoppers where you emptied the toner bottles into. So we hand the tech the toner bottles and go on about our business, eagerly awaiting our chance to use the new copier.  10 minutes later we hear “oh no. no, NOOOO!” coming from the tech.  As we turn to see what the problem was, we see a blue ‘cloud’ forming around our new copier and the tech, as he is frantically opening up the front of the machine sand trying to do something.  Turns out that someone at the factory didn’t put a plug in the bottom of the cyan toner receptacle, so ALL the toner he was putting in was just coming right out the bottom, onto our carpet and making that blue hazy cloud I was talking about.  An FYI, the color copier toner is a super fine powder that almost resembles a liquid. This stuff was hitting the floor hard and spreading out as well as turning into an almost mist now starting to cover a small portion of my store. The tech finally stops the flow of toner going INTO the machine but can’t do anything about what is coming out, short of grabbing an empty paper carton nearby and holding it under the machine to catch was was left.

15 minutes later it was time to survey the damage. My shiny silver machine was now almost entirely cyan.  An area about 10′ x 10′ of my carpet was also all cyan, as well as every surface I could see in the front of my store. The tech started sweeping and scooping the toner because using a regular vacuum would just spit it out the back, the toner being so fine. he then used his special vac to try and get up the last remaining small piles and tried in vain to wipe down the machine.  Meanwhile we started wiping every surface we could find.  The spread was somewhat limited as my press guy wisely shut the door between the front and back, and the 2 offices were closed as well.  However I still had a 35′ counter and all that area to clean.  The technician is almost sobbing as he says how sorry he is, doesn’t know why there was no plug, no way for him to even see that, had to be at the factory, etc.  He called his office who promptly sent over 3 additional techs to tear apart this new machine and try and clean it. They were in my store for almost a week trying to clean that beast.  Several rolls of paper towels later we were still wiping up blue, even if your couldn’t see it. 

First thing that happened is we started yelling at the copier company and got them to cover a carpet cleaning and a ‘disaster’ cleaning, where they came is with industrial stuff and cleaned everything, including opening up the 3 computers up front and vacuuming out blue crap.  1 week later they claimed to have fixed the machine but every time I tried to run it, the copies came out with blue hues in them that weren’t supposed to be there. Anther week of my bitching finally got them to remove the machine.  They didn’t have another one available and wouldn’t have one for almost 2 months so we ended up cancelling the contract.  Timing was actually fortunate as our biggest color copy customer closed up shop just after this incident started.  My demand was just halved, which means I didn’t need that big machine for a while.  So was being blue a good thing or bad?  Despite the professional cleaning, we STILL would get some blue toner coming up when we wiped down the counters or machines for at least another 6 weeks. However I was out from under an expensive lease obligation.  Hmmm….

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