HP Shows No Remorse Intentionally Sabotaging Third Party Printer Ink Cartridges, Citing Innovation And Safety Concerns

Over the weekend, we reported that Hewlett-Packard had made the unsavory move of essentially bricking scores of third-party ink cartridges that were in use in customers’ printers. HP’s rather brazen move was easy to track down since it programmed its printer firmware to throw up an error message on September 13th, meaning that thousands of customers experienced ink cartridge failures at the exact same time.

HP is now coming clean about its move that had angered some customers. The company released a statement to the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS), which is part of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting system. HP stated that it made changes to the firmware in a number of its printers in order to “protect the printers and to protect the communication between the cartridge and the printer.”

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HP went on to state that its printers “reject non-HP cartridges in several cases,” and that these modifications are crucial to not only “protect innovation and intellectual property, but also to improve the safety of products for customers”

Interestingly, the company adds that customers who simply refill their genuine HP ink cartridges that contain the original security chip will not be affected by the error message that disables printing. However, this loophole flies in the face of what HP says that it’s trying to protect — the safety of its products. If HP has no problem with customer refilling their genuine ink cartridges with third-party ink, then what’s the problem with using remanufactured cartridges in the first place?

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Customers that have run up against HP’s third-party ink crackdown have encountered the following error messages on their printer displays:

Cartridge Problem.

The following ink cartridges appears to be missing or damages.

Replace the ink cartridges to resume printing.

Many customers use third-party ink cartridges because it’s incredibly cost effective. Third-party ink cartridges can often cost half as much as genuine cartridges (or even less) while providing similar, if not indistinguishable performance.

HP and other printer manufacturers, however, scoff at this practice as its cuts down on a highly profitable revenue stream for the company. In fact, ink sales are likely a much larger profit center than the printers themselves.