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Xerox's Scanner Problem Just Got Bigger

Xerox's Scanner Problem Just Got Bigger

Photograph by James Leynse/Corbis

Xerox (XRX) is now saying that some of its scanners can alter numbers in documents, even at the highest resolution setting. It blames a software bug for which it does not yet have a fix. “We continue to work tirelessly and diligently to develop a software patch to address the problem,” the company said in an Aug. 11 statement.

The admission over the weekend is a fresh embarrassment for Xerox, which assured customers last week that scanners would alter documents only if the factory settings were changed to a lower resolution. Now it says problems can occur at the factory settings and even at the “highest modes”—i.e., above the factory settings.

“We apologize for any confusion that came from our prior communications,” Rick Dastin, president of Xerox’s office and solutions business group, said in Sunday’s statement.

Routine documents should still be reproduced perfectly, according to Dastin. The ones where problems occur are “stress” documents, “which include documents with small fonts, those scanned multiple times and hard to read.” His statement includes a list of affected machines.

The problem came to light when German computer scientist David Kriesel scanned a construction plan on a Xerox machine and noticed that it changed numbers on some of the room measurements. In an e-mail, Kriesel said he was honored that Xerox had reached out to him to acknowledge the problem and asked him to test their patch. He wrote, “I am glad not to go down in history as the guy too dumb to read the manual. :-)”

Coy is Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor. His Twitter handle is @petercoy.

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