HP Printers Dirty Tricks

by Izzy Goodman

There are still people out there who remember the days when HP meant good - though expensive - printers. They haven't realized that over the last few years, HP has become the biggest crooks in an already rotten industry. They are buying HP printers with rip-off cartridges that contain an ever shrinking amount of ink, not realizing that it would be cheaper to buy another printer than to feed their current one. Read our article on the Best Printer Deals. You can find printers which use cartridges under $5 with no expiration dates. But not content with ripping you off on the ink, HP has played a game of dirty tricks to make sure you can't even use the expensive cartridges you paid for and this has led to several ongoing lawsuits.

The next article talks about a lawsuit against Epson but mentions how HP was caught disabling cartridges, apologized, and then was caught doing it again a year later. Epson and HP dirty tricks

HP is one of the few companies left still producing new printers which use tri-color cartridges (cartridges with 3 colors in one cartridge). This means you are lucky to get 5ml of each color in that cartridge. Then you have to discard the cartridge when one color runs out, even if you still have the other two. The more honest companies make a separate cartridge for each color. You get about 15ml of each color and only replace the one which actually runs out.

Without notice, HP cut the size of some of their cartridges but didn't change the model number. They then changed their printers to accept the smaller size only. So people bought 564XL and 920XL cartridges only to discover they would not fit their printers even though those are the cartridges which came with the printer.

HP put expiration dates on some of their cartridges. When this date is reached, the printer displays a random error. Their is no reason for an expiration date except to inflate their already obscene profits.

HP knows that some people test printers with compatible cartridges before deciding to buy it. If it doesn't accept compatible cartridges, they'll buy a different model. So HP attempted something which backfired. They pushed a firmware upgrade in early 2016 to inkjet printers which would allow compatible cartridges to work but trigger a "dynamic security feature" many months later. This feature was apparently designed to disable an inkjet printer loaded with third party cartridges. In mid-Sept 2016, HP printers began displaying errors if loaded with third-party cartridges.

Affected customers banded together and sought the help of State agencies and consumer advocacy groups. It went viral and generated lots of negative publicity. HP apologized to its customers and issued a firmware update to unlock the printers. Ultimately, HP customers formed three class-action lawsuits which were consolidated into one mega class-action. It claims HP violated Federal anti-trust and consumer protection laws.

And the biggest dirty trick of all...
...Genuine HP cartridges may be programmed to stop working if you opt out of Instant Ink
HP has a program called Instant Ink where your printer notifies HP when it is low on ink. They then charge your credit card and ship you more ink. It's a terrible deal for you but a great deal for HP. Now you have no choice in the matter. You can't surf the net looking for the best deal. You take what they give you at the price they determine. In order to entice you to sign up, they offer a "discount" of about 20% but if you are already paying 500% more for ink than you should be, even a 20% discount is still a rip-off.

But wait, there's more (actually less)! According to letters posted on printer forums, if you opt out of the program, the cartridges you already bought, whether installed in the printer or not, will stop working! Imagine - genuine HP cartridges you bought and paid for stop working because you decided not to buy more! Is this even legal? This sounds like a reason for another class action lawsuit.

HP's Dirtiest Trick Yet - With Laser Printers

Someone sent me an email asking me if HP was playing dirty tricks with their laser printers. He had a new HP color laser - only four months old - which was working fine. Then a cartridge needed to replaced. He bought a compatible. The output was terrible. It looked like the paper wasn't going through the printer at the right speed. Some lines were too close together and others spread too far apart. He bought another compatible from a different company. Same problem. He bought a genuine HP. Problem solved.

From his perspective (and mine) it seems that the printer is programmed to produce terrible output if a compatible cartridge is used. I can't see how a compatible - even if it was defective - would affect the speed by which pages went through the printer. And to have two different ones from different manufacturers do the same thing appears to be more than coincidence. Once again, I urge everyone to avoid products by this deceptive company. I hope they lose the class action lawsuit.

excerpt from a Bloomberg article on HP

The HP 63 Tri-color ink cartridge retails for $28.99 at Staples. Stuffed with foam sponges drenched in a fraction of an ounce of cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes, that ink, which needs a refill every 165 pages, is ridiculously valuable. The solvents and pigments HP scientists concocted were so overpriced that the company could afford to sell its hardware at steep losses and make it up in ink and toner sales. The 1,000-liter vats of ink at HP’s manufacturing hubs might as well have been filled with Dom Pérignon.

Far from the grand vision of the HP Way, the executive team spent a significant portion of its research and development budget on ways to make its printers less compatible with other companies’ cartridges. An HP spokesperson says the company doesn’t prevent the use of refilled cartridges that have a genuine HP chip. (Not true. HP sued companies which were refilling their cartridges but lost. Now that they have put expiration dates on the chips, refilling a cartridge is pointless.)

In February 2019, HP projected its first decline in quarterly printer supplies revenue in years. This wasn’t some isolated issue. A critical mass of fed-up customers finally seemed to be sick enough of HP’s high cartridge prices to try generic ink resellers or, in some cases, counterfeiters.