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Here’s why I no longer recommend HP printers

UPDATE: This article was posted on 24 Feb 2021. Since that time, HP has evolved their line of ink tank printers. These will address the concerns presented in the original post regarding waste of consumables and a the costly and complicated automatic ink fulfillment program. The original article is below. (20 May 2022)

I had been recommending HP printers for about 30 years since the original HP LaserJet printer was introduced in the 1980s. While HP products have generally been good, their business practices have become disappointing as is evidenced by the numerous class action lawsuits filed against them. One lawsuit addressed the problem of HP printers no longer printing with black ink if any of the color cartridges were depleted — a condition irrelevant to the task of printing, but relevant to the task of wasteful greedy boosting of profits. Another practice of HP is to offer very low capacity ink cartridges which results in more landfill waste. In my experience, some HP models were susceptible to having ink evaporate.

I spent several years quietly appealing to HP in an effort to encourage them to change their process for automatic ink fulfillment. Once customers signup for the automatic ink replenishment, they will find their printer is controlled by HP and will no longer print using standard ink cartridges. This is inconvenient and confusing for some users. If someone has a big print job, and they run out of ink, the replacement in may not arrive on time. They can’t go to the store to get more ink. They must unsubscribe from the service first, which requires they have access to their HP customer account. This is all very unnecessary.

The pricing for the HP ink replenishment plan is complicated and costly. Their billing plan is modeled on cell phone subscription plans from 30 years ago. Fist, you need to be clairvoyant and determine how many pages you will be printing each month. If you go under that estimate, you’ll be overpaying for ink. If you exceed your estimated printing needs, you’ll be overpaying for ink. It’s a formula for maximum profits for the company, but also maximum frustration and costs for the customer.

The ink fulfillment process I advocated was that the printer not be restricted to using the special ink cartridges, but instead allow the printer to initiate a standard ink order when the ink is low. Then, the customer would receive standard ink shortly before it is needed. If for some reason ink was needed before the automatic shipment arrived, the customer could purchase ink from the store.

HP decided not to change their automatic replenishment system. However, Brother is implementing a system identical to what I proposed. It’s more ethical, simpler, and less expensive for consumers. So, I’ve stopped recommending HP and recommend Brother, Epson, or Canon printers. I’ll happily help anyone regardless of what product they own, and if they choose HP that’s fine, but I do make sure they are aware of the ethical issues with HP.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com

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