HP DeskJet Not Printing Color!

I've had the HP DeskJet 950C printer for my Windows 2000 Pro system for over a year now.  It was working perfectly printing out black & white and color photos.  About 6 months ago the unit started printing out red color images for color pictures which I concluded to be the color ink cartridge was running low (no green/blue left).  I continued to use the printer without replacing the color ink catridge mostly printing b&w documents.  Around 1 month ago I wanted to print out a Word document which contained a table with a 45% gray shaded background.  On printout the table had no gray scale (it printed nothing in this area).  I was thinking that a setting must have been off since the black catridge was running low but still had lots of juice to printout many other docs, and gray scale was the result of b&w dithering.  After many hours of frustration I've concluded that the black catridge isnt responsible for gray scale and the color catridge IS.  

I decided to replace the color ink catridge with a new one.  On printout I still don't see any gray being printed out.  In fact I tried printing a color image which resulted in a black and mostly white image.  It seems the printer isnt printing color!!  What the heck is going on?!?

Here are some facts about my situation:
x The HP Printer Toolbox utility reports the black ink catridge as low (0% - Though I've printed out 50 more pages of documents despite the value) and the new color ink catridge as high (90% -- It hasnt even been used so why 90%?!?).  Sometimes the values for both catridges fluctuates from 80-90% for the color and 0-90% for the black.
x I've run all calibration, diagnostic, and print tests the printer offers but on printing out a color image the result is always a black on mostly white image.
x Printing colored text from MS Word results in nothing being printed out.
x The new color ink catridge came sealed in a reflective package.  The catridge had a 3.5"x1.5"x.5" plastic guard capped onto one end protecting the electrical leads on the catridge and the nozzle end.  I did not see any transparent tape over the nozzle end.
x I used rubbing alcohol on the catridge leads as well as the color ink connectors within the printer.
x I rubbed the nozzle end of the color ink catridge onto toilet paper to see if there was any colored streak.  There was.
x Printer Properties is set for Color
x I've tried using the Parallel Cable connector as well as USB.
x I'm using the latest driver from HP
x My replacement color catridge name: HP C6578D.  HP's website states the color catridge to be: HP 78 (C6578AN large or C6578DN economy).  My new replacement catridge, though, appears to be non-HP -- I have no idea who made it.  There is no actual HP logo on it like there is on the black catridge.  Though the very same type of catridge is consistently bought at my work so it must be satisfactory.

Can someone tell me why my Deskjet doesnt print in color?  Is this a common occurence for HP DeskJet 950C Printers?  How much does a technician charge to repair such a unit, hopefully for less than a used one on Ebay?

BTW, I have an extra new color ink catridge and black catridge though I'm a bit hesitant in opening up the packages just to find out the printer is still screwed up.  Can someone reassure me that once the new catridges have been opened I can put them "back" into their packaging for future use, perhaps 1.5 years later?

Im using Windows 2000 Pro (SP4), printing mostly through MS Word 2000, using Parallel Cable.

Thanks for any info.
barkinAsked:
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DRRYAN3Commented:
You can rule out all computer related pieces by running either a demo page (power on printer, press and hold the RESUME button until printing begins, release RESUME button), or a self test (turn printer on, press and hold power button, press RESUME four times, release power button).

If you have no color on either of those pages, your problem is in the printer.  If you do have color on those pages, your problem is in your computer.

From what you are describing, it sounds as though your color cartridge is either not making contact, or is dried up.  Were you to call HP on this, they would most likely tell you that only HP brand cartridges are supported.

Unfortunately, once you open the ink cartridge packaging, it will probably not be working that well in 1.5 years.
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barkinAuthor Commented:
Running a Print Test from the printer bypassing the PC still prints B&W images.  Ouch.  I guess Ill try cleaning the cart nozzle and perhaps taping back the cart to the leads for better contact?  The weird thing is I never dropped/banged the printer in any way for it to simply die.  It just stopped working.  I would like to know why.
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DRRYAN3Commented:
Until proven otherwise, I would focus on the cartridges, not the printer.

Taping the cartridge back may change it's position to such a degree that you cannot align the print heads.  Probably OK for a test, but I don't think you'll want to run that way for good.

You should try another cartridge.  Perhaps you have a friend who will loan you a known to be working one for a few minutes instead of opening a new one?
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barkinAuthor Commented:
I still have no idea what the problem is but have yet to insert a "proven" color ink catridge into it to conclude whether the printer itself is to blame.  In the meantime I think you, DRRYAN3, deserve your points.  Thanks a lot!
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DRRYAN3Commented:
You're welcome.  Good luck.
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