..... We were told by Epson sales point blank that this was the best machine we could possibly get. ....
The Epson 9900 is the best machine imho, but what the marketing materials and Epson sales reps don't go on to tell you (educate end-users) is how to keep your Epson 49/79/99** printers running trouble-free the majority of their usable life expectancy.
The 9800 imho was like that old beat-up but reliable pick-up truck you parked out in front. Always started, always dependable. It just worked. I had my reservations about upgrading to the 9900. She was like this slim, svelte blonde model (or sports car), sexy output, but feisty and high maintenance. Treat her well and give her constant attention, and the 9900 dazzles. Ignore her and risk the potential ire of a passive-aggressive mate dishing out irrational frustration to all those that come in contact with her.
I wish Epson would be more forthcoming with "End-user Maintenance Tips, Guideines, and Recommendations." But apparently it's something that we end-users have to come up with on our own, or by sharing our successes and miseries on the forums. And there are a lot of great tips here, we just need to find a way to put them in one place, in an unofficial end-user pdf publication. After over a year of using my 9900, I have to say that this slim, svelte blonde model of a 9900 and me have come to an an understanding. Not that we ever had problems, but our relationship has evolved to one of respect and she really is like that old reliable pick-up truck now, similar to my old 9800 but much prettier and a better performer, as long as I pay her the requisite attention
. She is smarter, faster, and better in every way.
Regular usage and monitoring constant humidity is at the top of my usage/maintenance list. Get a hygrometer; watch out for air-conditioning and heaters (climate controls!) can dry out air even in humid climes. Harvey Head Cleaner can help when you're on vacation for printing automatic nozzle checks in your absence. Cleaning and keep the deck clear of dust and debris. Regularly checking and cleaning the wiper with swab its; replace the wiper regularly. Burn sage and dance around naked if it helps.
Not a fan of extended warranties, but I went ahead and bought one from Tastar Supply anyway. I've had zero problems with my 9900 and 9890, but figured if I didn't do it, Murphy would come knocking...
For the most part, I do think that most users of the big Epson printers are happy. You just won't find people that are happy with their equipment making a big effort to post on the forums about it. They just go about their business printing. Imho, you're more likely to read about those who have issues with their Epsons, and not to make light of their difficulties either, as most know that the wrath of a passive aggressive mate is not a pleasant experience. But it is one of the few ways to share and learn from others experiences, and keep these big printers going, regardless of manufacturer.
And MB, your geographic location certainly doesn't help, as it sounds like a nutless monkey could have done a better job than your repair Epson guy. I think Epson service is a bit better here in the States! Hope you can reconcile with your 9900.