HP pays out in another settlement over ink cartridge DRM

Daniel Sims

Posts: 672   +27
Staff
A hot potato: Printer ink cartridges have long been notoriously expensive, and printer manufacturers use DRM to keep users from buying cheaper third-party versions. HP is still paying settlements to customers over how it deployed its DRM years ago, but the practice shows no sign of ending soon.

Consumer group Euroconsumers recently reached a settlement with HP in which the printer manufacturer will pay up to $1.35 million to customers in four European countries over its enforcement of ink cartridge DRM in 2016. HP already agreed to similar pay-outs to customers on other continents.

The trouble started when a firmware update for some of HP's printers caused them to refuse ink cartridges from companies other than HP, identified by the lack of HP's DRM chips. The DRM can also tell if a used HP cartridge has been refilled. Third-party ink tends to be cheaper than "official" cartridges from printer companies that operate under a razor-and-blade model to recoup costs from selling cheap printers.

Claims against HP emerged because many users were unaware of the DRM until after their cartridges stopped working. HP apologized and initially removed the DRM. However, it reappeared in 2017, and HP continues to sell printers with DRM.

The company had to compensate users in Australia over the surprise DRM in 2018, paying out AU$50 each for a total likely exceeding AU$100,000. A US class-action lawsuit accused HP of "underhanded" tactics and anticompetitive behavior in 2020.

The Euroconsumers settlement lets customers in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Portugal who owned certain HP printers between September 1, 2016, and November 17, 2020, receive up to 95€ in compensation. Customers must submit a claim before March 6, 2023, with a possible three-month extension.

Canon uses similar methods to force its cartridges onto users of its printers. As an unintended side-effect of the pandemic supply chain shocks, the company couldn't manufacture enough DRM chips for its cartridges, forcing it to let customers circumvent the DRM in January.

Ink cartridge DRM will likely persist in the long run despite the settlements. To avoid further accusations of deceit, HP is more up-front about its DRM nowadays, describing it in the fine print on product pages and FAQs.

Permalink to story.

 

p51d007

Posts: 3,375   +3,047
As someone who has been in the copier/printer business, on the SERVICE side for 42 years, yes, I can tell you it is a RIPOFF. The only difference between Yellow, Magenta, Cyan & black toner/ink is the PIGMENT of the toner/ink. ITS THE SAME.
On the plain paper copier side, most 2-part systems use carrier (very microscopic beads) made of a magnetic material that the toner clings to. But, when you replace the carrier (if premixed with toner, it is usually called developer), the black developer is many times less expensive than the color developer. But, sometimes when you are in the middle of no where, you do what you have to do, to get the machine to work. Dump in the wrong color, adjust the level, then run enough copies to get the wrong color out and the right one mixed in. Same with drums. On some machines, they charge you a higher amount for the Y,M,C, drums, than the black. IT'S THE SAME DRUM. They just use a crum chip on the back and software programming, along with a keyed container, to stop the customer from swapping them. (on machines where the end user replaces them).
In the field, for troubleshooting, it's common to swap the color drums around, to see if the problem moves to the other drum, or stays in the same place.
Consumers have been ripped off since the advent of color machines.
One of our vendors recently "refreshed" their line. The b&w only machine looks almost exactly like the previous model, but takes a different toner & developer. With the back order of supplies and what not, I took the previous model developer and dumped it into the new machine. (bag has the same weight as the new one). Installed the new toner and set it up without any issues.
Then I grabbed the previous model toner, but it wouldn't fit. The "key" on the front of the cartridge was just a little different. Since the old toner was just laying around, I broke off the key. Cartridge fit perfectly, but the SOFTWARE coding on the crum chip, would not allow it to work.
The industry is setup like the razor & razor blade model.
They sell you the machine, not much profit, but SCREW you on the supplies necessary to operate the machine.
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,223   +1,491
For me it's hard to believe people are still using ink cartridges at all! Time to throw those things in the bin and buy a cheap laser printer you fools! Even if the color laser costs more upfront, it will save you HUNDREDS in cartridges and, if you don't use it for weeks, you won't have to spend an hour cleaning your crappy ink printer and praying it actually prints.

I have not used an ink printer in 15+ years, at home, at work or ANYWHERE.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,096   +3,991
TechSpot Elite
This is one of the reasons why I've NEVER owned an HP printer and over the past 15 years, I've only owned Laser Printers. For the longest time, I had an OKI Data C3400N and now I have some kind of Samsung (Don't know the model # off-hand). All my years of tech experience has taught me to avoid anything that has a "big name" like HP. Back in the day, Epson was the big name in printers and they were so expensive that I used a Panasonic KX-P1091 instead. :laughing:
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 1,455   +1,361
For me it's hard to believe people are still using ink cartridges at all! Time to throw those things in the bin and buy a cheap laser printer you fools! Even if the color laser costs more upfront, it will save you HUNDREDS in cartridges and, if you don't use it for weeks, you won't have to spend an hour cleaning your crappy ink printer and praying it actually prints.

I have not used an ink printer in 15+ years, at home, at work or ANYWHERE.

So you have no idea about fine art/photo/archival printing where a laser printer is utterly useless.
 

lazer

Posts: 453   +139
I have an HP printer and it is good, but I bought a cheaper version of the ink and it wouldn't work. Couldn't figure it out until a friend told me only buy HP ink. What a rip off.

and I won't be able to get money back.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,096   +3,991
TechSpot Elite
I miss the old days when I could buy a bottle of black ink for $1.25 and re-ink ribbons for another roughly 10 years. ........
Yeah the only problem with those was printing speed, resolution and the ungodly amounts of noise involved. I used to hear my Panasonic KX-P1091 in my sleep! :laughing:
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,375   +3,047
For me it's hard to believe people are still using ink cartridges at all! Time to throw those things in the bin and buy a cheap laser printer you fools! Even if the color laser costs more upfront, it will save you HUNDREDS in cartridges and, if you don't use it for weeks, you won't have to spend an hour cleaning your crappy ink printer and praying it actually prints.

I have not used an ink printer in 15+ years, at home, at work or ANYWHERE.
I haven't either, but, when you print photos, that ink on glossy pops better than toner a lot of the time because the ink "sits" on top of the paper, whereas the toner is kind of pressed down into the fiber of the paper.
 

Athlonite

Posts: 389   +154
Atleast with Canon you can untick the box that say use only Canon Ink cartridges you don't even get that option with HP. Consumer NZ proved that third party ink was either the same quality or better than oem ink
 

beardrinksbeer

Posts: 62   +11
Atleast with Canon you can untick the box that say use only Canon Ink cartridges you don't even get that option with HP. Consumer NZ proved that third party ink was either the same quality or better than oem ink
I had a Canon MG6860 for at least 7 years & I always filled it with ink myself; good ink, not crap ink. I don't print much so that printer was all that I needed.

Earlier this year, the black started to stop flowing if I didn't use it for over a month; but I took out the print head & gave it a good clean. It did it again a few months later, so I looked on this website that I get my inks from. They suggest another Canon printer, a TS 5160; they picked that model as it was easyish (it is a word now) to refill & it didn't throw up flags; if it did, they sell chip resetters, perfect for $100. I bought that and I also bought extended size black & colour tanks, so there is more pages between fills. The upside is the printer comes with onboard scanner - cool.

I re-cleaned the MG6860 again, and then I wrapped it up in the stuff that the TS5160 came in & put it under the spare bed; I am not going to throw away a just cleaned printer (I left the ink tanks out after I cleaned the old girl up), my name is not HP (hopelessly pathetic)