Actually, getting the "NO cartridge" error after installing the Epson VLM cart is not a good sign... that could mean the chip sensor is damaged, since the printer isn't recognizing a cart is installed. The correct message I'd expect from installing an empty Epson cart is "cartridge empty, replace cartridge". If the original chip on your VLM cart wasn't working correctly for whatever reason, then you replaced the chip, but the new chip wasn't flat/flush on the cart before installing into the printer, this could have damaged the thin sensor wires....
If you get the same "NO cartridge" message when installing the Epson VLM cart or any refill cart into the VLM channel, this generally means the sensor is damaged (in which case, it needs to be replaced). To check the sensor in your VLM channel, remove the VLM and neighboring LLK cart, then look at the far back/top of the cartridge chamber, as shown in the photo below. The VLM sensor should look exactly as the LLK sensor (close up photo attached), but if any of the wires are bent or missing, this would explain why carts aren't being recognized in this channel.
Please keep me posted on what you discover.