Customer Receives Threatening Email from HP for Using "Off-Brand" Ink in Their Printer

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Jan. 22 2024, Updated 12:44 p.m. ET

A Reddit user (@a_couple_of_words) uploaded a now-viral picture of a message they received from their HP printer to the site's r/mildlyinfuriating sub.

The message is one that many HP printer customers who opted to enroll in the company's HP+ program may have seen if they use ink cartridges from a non-HP company in the printer — and folks think it's a grimy move.

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Scams. They exist everywhere in retail. Sometimes these con jobs boil down to slick marketing and tapping into a universal human desire: like convincing throngs of people that their significant other truly doesn't love them unless they purchase a rock that really isn't all that rare.

Property taxes can also be considered a scam: US citizens are taxed on their income and taxed on the products and services that they purchase and even if they own the land and home they live on outright they must continue to pay taxes on it or else risk eventually losing your home, no matter how much your local legislature raises the annual fees.

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Email Threatening Turn Off HP Printer
Source: Reddit | @a_couple_of_words

And while it's very easy to read the aforementioned paragraph and get all bad-guys-from-White-House-Down, there are other scams that folks deal with on a daily basis: like printer ink.

If you've ever walked through a retailer and seen a printer that looks like it's selling for a price that's too good to be true, that's where the heart of this scam lies.

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That's because, like Business Insider says, companies will often sell printers for a very, very low premium because they know that they're going to make their money back, and then some, on the high margins they earn on printer ink cartridges designed specifically for the devices they make.

There are ways around these premiums, however, as 3rd party companies are more than happy to manufacture and sell ink cartridges that are compatible with popular printer models at a lower cost, saving shoppers tons of money in the long run, especially if they go through a lot of cartridges.

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Source: Twitter | @internetofsh*t

However, it seems that some HP printer users are experiencing a warning message from the manufacturer when they try and use cartridges from these 3rd party suppliers and it boils down to its HP+ software.

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While the name sounds like customers are getting some kind of extra benefits, The Verge breaks down how this seemingly helpful service folks can opt into basically has them stuck paying high premiums for HP ink for as long as they own their printer.

In fact, the tech outlet calls it "one of the most dastardly schemes Big Inkjet has ever unleashed." It highlighted in May of 2023 how the brand's best-selling printer, the HP Deskjet 2755e, which packs a color printer and scanner for just $85 — but that's not all: HP was also offering customers 6 months of free ink (now it appears to be 3).

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Source: Twitter | @machinegunkasi

In the first 7 days of purchasing the device, the device will inform users that they only have a small window to take advantage of this opportunity: all they need to do is install the HP+ application, which also comes with an additional year of an extended warranty, and HP will plant trees for every person who signs up, not to mention the free ink.

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So what's the catch? Well, by signing up for it and taking the bait, customers are basically allowing HP to install software that gives them total control of the printer and customers waive their rights to ever using any other kind of ink other than HP-approved cartridges.

The Verge writes: "Here’s one reason, as detailed in a new complaint by the International Imaging Technology Council (IITC) that might turn into a false advertising fight: HP Plus comes with a firmware update that utterly removes your printer’s ability to accept third-party ink. You have to buy 'genuine' HP ink as long as you use the printer."

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Source: Twitter | @littlefreakgnf

As of the article's writing, The Verge said that they haven't discovered a way to change the firmware on printers that would allow folks to opt out of HP+ and use whatever ink cartridges they would like on their devices.

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And judging by Redditor @a_couple_of_words' post, it seems that the problem may still be a widespread one, as it was uploaded in January of 2024, just a few months after The Verge penned their article.

The notice says that they will continue to lose out on HP+ benefits, which they don't seem too concerned about as they write: "Tbh I'd rather save the money on the cartridges than use their mediocre features."

But if they continue to receive the error message, or another one from the printer that the cartridge is incompatible, that might just ultimately end up being more trouble than it's worth.

If you're thinking of buying a printer you might want to ask yourself if you really need a color one. If not, you're probably better served getting a black-ink-only laser printer with toner cartridges like this one.

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Source: Twitter | @Fact

It's go WiFi printing as an option, but is usually way less of a hassle to deal with than ink cartridges. If you absolutely need color ink but don't want to end up in an HP-non-genuine-cartridge situation, you may be better served paying a bit more money up front so you don't get hosed when it comes to ink down the line.

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