Umax is one of the leading manufacturers of scanners. A week ago, they began charging for driver updates that previously had been available as a free web download. And prices are high – between thirty and sixty dollars. So if you own a Umax scanner and you’re looking for full-featured Windows XP support, or Mac OS X drivers, you’ll have to pony up more money before you can get your scanner to work. How about that for a gouge? Here’s an article about the driver charges.

The Register discovered an interesting twist when it tried to ask Umax some questions about the new policy. It turns out Umax doesn’t really exist. Its corporate headquarters are supposed to be in Dallas. But it’s been removed from all the Dallas phone books; the “media contact” listed on the web site is a PR firm that was fired 18 months ago; the technical support is outsourced and will not release any information about how to contact the corporate office. Umax doesn’t actually manufacture anything – it outsources manufacturing, distribution, and support. There’s no way to tell who runs the corporation. It doesn’t fill me with confidence about Umax products.

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