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Tell HN: Cancelling HP Instant Ink prevents cartridges from being used
516 points by wfme 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 392 comments
I bought an HP printer that came with an HP Instant Ink subscription a year ago. The subscription promises to send you ink when you're running low as long as you print within the designated number of pages.

I recently changed my card and figured I would let the subscription expire.

Fast forward to today. I go to print something and find that the printer is "unable to print" even though there is ample ink left in the cartridges. I press a button on the printer and it spits out a report that states the printer is unable to print, except for printer reports (!).

I dig a little (since the error message they show provides no additional information beyond not being able to print) and find this thread [0] in their support forum. It turns out that once the subscription is cancelled or suspended, you are no longer able to use the ink that has been sent to you. Some even report not being able to print with cartridges they bought independently.

It turns out that their terms state that you're buying the ability to print x pages and the ink is actually always owned by HP, even when in your possession.

This has to be one shadiest and just overall worst product experiences I've come across in a while.

Printers have always been a bit of a pain but since when did they have to be near permanently connected to the internet else threaten to cut you off from all of their capabilities.

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20230522114823/https://h30434.ww...

I think that HP does a lot of shady shit. But I actually think that this is fair. If you purchase a subscription for 100 pages/month or whatever you can't expect to cancel and keep printing for a while after you stop paying. I think it is reasonable that they provide both options. You can go with the subscription and you don't own the ink, but HP manages refilling and replacing as needed. Or you can buy your own ink and mange it yourself. I don't think that you can expect both.

I do agree that it is a bit wasteful but unfortunately it isn't economical for them to retrieve the partially-used cartridges from cancelled subscriptions, so it is just thrown away. It would be interesting if they offered a "buy out" option. When you cancel the subscription with half an ink cartridge they could sell it to you for half of the price.

If they allowed use of cartridges after the subscription expiry then the system could easily be abused by only subscribing for one month at a time to refill your cartridge then cancelling until you actually used it up. There are workarounds for this like minimum subscription length or blocking people based on address but they have other problems.

The real shady shit is rejecting third-party cartridges, that should be illegal. It's your printer and you should be able to decide what ink you use.

milk delivery subscriptions used to be common. when you'd cancel your membership, they'd just stop delivering. they didn't come back to repossess your unused milk.

these days each bottle would have a "smart cap" that could remotely curdle your milk in case of non-payment. it's not (historically) normal, it's not fair, but it's recently normalized because tech has enabled new ways for corporations to squeeze their customers.

> they didn't come back to repossess your unused milk.

Well, it curdles on its own. They will come after you for the milk crate they delivered things in.



Ironically your second link, which begins

>Milk crates are one of the most versatile products around and can be used for everything from storage to fishing, furniture or even gardening. And the best bit of all is that you can simply pick them up for free from outside stores, right?


has articles about using milk crates for gardening, seating, in classrooms, and on bicycles in the sidebar.

For example:

10 Great Uses of Milk Crates You’ve Probably Never Thought Of!


I don't follow. They're saying you can't just take them off the returns pile. As with printer cartridges, you can buy them direct and do anything you like with them... but if you got them in a milk delivery, they're still the dairy's and the dairy will want them back.

Ehh, From the website name you might infer that they sell milk crates. It stands to reason that a company which sells milk crates has lots of ideas for things to do with milk crates. It also stands to reason that a company which sells milk crates wants you to buy said milk crates from them instead of, say, stealing them.

It's fun to argue about what analogy best describes this situation, but ultimately that doesn't matter. It's really about what was advertised by the company, and what the consumer agreed to in this transaction.

it's also about increasingly hostile profit opportunities being realized and normalized, enabled by tech (its decreasing cost, increasing prevalance, and increasing internet-connectivity) despite the externalized costs (in this case, the environmental cost of destroying still-useful materials, especially materials that are quite difficult to dispose of responsibly). this is an example of profit-seeking behavior acting against the good of society and consumers (or government) should resist this increasing trend.

In this case, OP is actually part of the problem, by voting with his wallet for these "hostile profit opportunities." HP has his money, so in their eyes, his vote is for this dark pattern. By buying these products, people are ensuring they continue to act against the good of society and consumers.

EDIT: and for the down-voters, I'll clarify: I fully support OP here. OP was clearly deceived by HP's marketing. But unfortunately we live in a world created by lawyers where there is no right or wrong--there's just "what the letter of the law lets you get away with".

> milk delivery subscriptions used to be common. when you'd cancel your membership, they'd just stop delivering. they didn't come back to repossess your unused milk.

No, because they charged you $1 for every bottle they delivered. You bought the entire bottle upfront (you may have paid in arrears, but when it was delivered you agreed to pay)

Imagine instead the milkman drops 10 bottles on your doorstep. Some days you only want 1 bottle for tea and a bit of cereal, but other days you make some pancakes and need 6 bottles. At the end of the day the milkman takes back the unused milk and charges you for what you used.

Aside from the problem of milk spoiling that seems a perfectly reasonable model.

A potentially better analogy might be a library. The library borrowing model existed long before software, so one can't argue that modern software subscription models "enabled" this "predatory" practice.

I can borrow as much as I can read from the library, but I can't keep the books I haven't read at home while I am not a member. The books never really belong to me, just as the HP ink never really belong to users (until they are printed onto paper, at which point they become a constituent part of a "page" which _is_ owned by the user).

I think the cognitive dissonance arises because this "borrowing" model is being applied to a _consumable product_, which is not common.

For this analogy to work the library would have to trash the books you borrowed after you cancelled your subscription.

Perhaps a train then.

I buy an annual season ticket for a London-Reading journey with a monthly direct debit.

I then decide after 3 months I no longer want to use it, so I cancel the direct debit, and my account is settled

The train still goes, I'm no longer allowed to use it.

When the product costs essentially little to nothing to manufacture - in comparison to the cost charged to the consumer - it may as well be considered a durable good to the manufacturer which allows you to "borrow" it for a fee that far exceeds the cost of lifetime replacement.

Imagine if your kid really liked drinking a lot of milk, so the milk man gave you double the amount of bottles one morning for no extra charge. Because its an "all you can drink" membership. This is sort of what the HP service is like

Within a membership limit, HP can send you 1 cartridge of 5 at a time. The number of cartridges are not pre-determined when you start paying

I really am reluctant to agree with HP on anything, but in this case I have to agree.

You can argue that the HP Instant Ink program itself is a scummy project, but these particular terms are understandable.

I mean just look at the pricing of the program, $6 a month for 100 pages. VS $30+ for an ink cartridge.

This isn't some "subscribe and save" program where they are sending you ink at a reduced cost but you can do with it as you wish. It's buying pages, it's made very clear what you are actually buying and the ink is basically leased to you.

Now if they bricked the printer (like iRobot does with iRobot Select) I would be far more sympathetic and would be upset, but otherwise someone could just subscribe for a month. Pay the $1 and get a full ink cartridge, which simply doesn't make sense from HP's prospective.

How are you buying pages if they don't include the paper? Clearly this is paying for the ink.

I also don't understand what your cost argument is supposed to say: if you actually print at close to the allowed limit you're basically getting a new cartridge every other month or so, which is still not profitable if the $30 price is close to the break even price. If the problem for HP really was worry about not getting the money back for the initial cartridge they could just demand you commit for a six month period at least.

Obviously what this is actually paying for is the Ink, but the way that is calculated is on a per page basis and the ink that is sent to you is basically being leased to you.

I don't know where you are getting your numbers from. If I to look at the HP Tango, and I look at the "High Yield" cartridge which is $46, that is rated at 600 pages.

So no, if you are doing 100 pages I would not expect you would be buying a new tank every month. Which is the $6 one I mentioned.

If they demanded that commitment we would just be complaining about the commitment and not this side of it... Also that doesn't account for when they do inevitably need to send you another cartridge.

The point here is simple, the marketing for "Instant Ink" is very clear about never stating how often you are getting a cartridge. It is just when you need it. They do that, because you are not buying the physical cartridge but obviously you need ink in your home to be able to print. If I subscribe to this for 3 months, spend the $18 a month. I may get that first cartridge but if O do zero prints, I won't be sent another cartridge (or at least shouldn't be).

Yes it is a bit weird to think that you have something in your hands that you cannot actually use. But you are not buying the actual cartridges in this model.

Put another way, let's assume this cartridge is actually 600 pages (it may or may not be since it depends on what exactly you print, unlike this subscription service that is just a per page). So you subscribe to this service saying you will print 50 pages a month. Theoretically that single cartridge you were sent at the beginning of your subscription will last for a year. You're paying $4 a month. HP is making the bet that you will keep up the subscription even though that first month is most likely a loss for them.

If they were to just be "nice" and allow you to keep the cartridge it just opens it up for abuse.

> I mean just look at the pricing of the program, $6 a month for 100 pages.

I mean, I pay $30 for 2 generic laser toner cartridges that last upwards of a year at my home (and my kids are prolific users of the Canon laser printer).

$6/mo is usurious just like $30 cartridges.

HP has gotten greedy and instead of making this transition to a subscription model easy they're getting well deserved backlash.

HP has separate costs for ink/toner cartridges. $4/mo for 100 pages.

Aside from that, they cover shipping and recycling of old cartridges, and they include color/photo printing in that prices (not sure if you that's relevant for toner though? not a printer expert.)

$2/mo for 50 pages is a pretty great deal, as someone who seldom prints.

> Now if they bricked the printer

That allegation was essentially made: "Some even report not being able to print with cartridges they bought independently."

From a money and business perspective. I agree, this isn't the end of the world. From an environmental view, this is disgusting and should be illegal. Bricking a perfectly functional printer and ink is not acceptable.

Think of it this way: to provide a monthly subscription, they can either send a new cartridge once per month with 100 pages in it (with all the shipping, plastic, production, etc costs associated with that), or they can ship one six times bigger a single time. That’s much better for the environment.

If they couldn’t turn off cartridges when subscriptions stop, they’d have to send less-filled cartridges. Otherwise, there’d be huge incentive to sign up for one month, get your big cartridge, and cancel.

The printer is not bricked, the OP can purchase ink from an office supply store without using the Instant Ink program and it will work fine.

That's not entirely true, as they only want official HP ink, as per a post of a few days ago

This is also not entirely true, HP only wants official HP ink on printers that customers opted into HP+. If you don't opt your printer into HP+, you don't need official ink, and 3rd party cartridges work just fine.

For clarity: - inkjets: the customer chooses during setup if they want HP+ (they trade the ability to use 3rd party inks for +1 year warranty... lol); or keep it HP standard (no forced limitation on inks, 1 year warranty) - laserjets: if the customer buys an HP+, it comes "preactivated". I think HP sells non-HP+ models of the same printers, and customers are free to use whatever cartridges they want.

Very nuanced, and they make it complicated. Fan of the Instant Ink service (I'm grandfathered into the old free plans), but not a fan of the way HP+ is pitched.

office supply stores would usually have a good selection of HP ink in stock.

not saying that not allowing generic ink isn't bad, though.

It might not be as bad as it sounds.

It looks like HP handles recycling old cartridges. It might be better than the alternative -- people buying ink and disposing of the cartridge in a landfill, rather than the cartridge being re-used.

The real shady shit is maintaining control of property you purchased after you paid for it. Rejecting third party cartridges, this subscription service, the ridiculous legal gymnastics that try to justify all of this, it's all ridiculous. If they want a subscription model they can't make you pay for the printer.

I would argue that the 'Instant Ink' service as a whole is somewhat shady and an environmental disaster, but I agree that this particular part is an obvious outcome that shouldn't really be controversial.

it isn't controversial that a company would rather destroy a resource than let someone have it, but some of us strongly oppose this

Don't subscribe to the service if you don't like the business. HP certainly pushes instant ink, but afaik, all of the instant ink printers are also usable with customer owned cartridges (although some printers won't use 3rd party cartridges).

I mean, I don’t. But I don’t think they should be allowed to something so senselessly wasteful at all. If the business doesn’t work without trashing perfectly good ink it shouldn’t be a business.

They are not destroying any resources, you are free to cut the cartridge open and use the ink or electronic components as you like.

This reminds me of how book stores "return" unsold books to the publisher:

Shipping boxes of heavy books costs a lot of money, and the publisher doesn't actually need the books back (because they can always print new copies very cheaply).

So the publisher just tells the book store to destroy the books, and as evidence for their destruction asks only for the covers to be shipped back to them (which is cheap).

This is why books contain within them the text "This book should not be sold without a cover".

So with this printer company, they are effectively "destroying" the unused ink cartridge since it's not worth it economically to have it shipped back to them.

The added bonus is that if the customer renews the subscription then the ink can be "undestroyed"!

The fact that HP isn’t asking for the ink back tells you all you need to know about its actual value.

I don't think them not asking for returned cartridges is much an indicator of value. How would it be worthwhile? Even Amazon destroys a large amount of returned merchandise, although I'm struggling to find a reputable source for that claim

> The real shady shit is rejecting third-party cartridges, that should be illegal. It's your printer and you should be able to decide what ink you use.

As a person who only uses original cartridges (w/o subscription, I buy and use them until they finish), I completely agree. However, ink chemistry is not some straightforward mixing and the risks are largely downplayed by 3rd party ink manufacturers.

This is even before going into ink pH, pigment vs. dyes, and print longevity discussions.

> However, ink chemistry is not some straightforward mixing and the risks are largely downplayed by 3rd party ink manufacturers.

Exactly and precisely 0.0% of printer manufacturers make their own ink.

Almost all printer ink in the world comes from a very small region, a single business park really, of Malaysia. Some is also made in Europe and Japan.

It is made by companies like Toyo Chem, DIC, Sakata, and Swan and transported directly to the facilities that fill the cartridges.

Printer companies have almost no input into the process, they buy based on spec from a list of offerings.

3rd party cartridge manufacturers buy the same ink, with the same specs, from the same manufacturers as printer manufacturers.

If a printer manufacturer claims to have an exclusive formula they are either lying, or the ink maker lied about giving them exclusivity because you can buy any ink from anyone at anytime. If the manufacturer wants to keep up appearances they'll change a single digit on the product ID and claim it is a different product, they don't care where the drums are going so long as the wire transfer goes through.

Even the ink manufacturers OFTEN don't "create" ink. They just blend pigments from pigment manufacturers together with solvents from solvent manufacturers in formulae that are pre-determined between the pigment and solvent makers.

If a customers says "I need an ink that does x" they go to the pigment and solvent suppliers and ask "what do I need to buy so the ink does x" and the suppliers tell them and the ink manufacturer follows the formula to the letter.

I don't think that's quite right. I work at HP (I hardly dare to say it in this thread hahaha), and I am quite sure that the full formulation of the inks is developed in house (at least for large format). I do think it's true that there only exist a few hundred pigments, and those are not developed at HP. And likewise for other ingredients I guess.

I am not involved in ink development myself, but I know that when we get a new ink from the other side of the ocean (with improved properties, or compying with updated regulations), many printing parameters have to be changed or new print mode algorithms have to be developed to maintain print quality. When it's just not possible, there may be hardware changes, or there is some more alchemy, and we get a new version of the ink. And so on. This can literally take years, and sometimes it just doesn't work and a new ink development path is abandoned

So, Why HP and Xerox have their own Ink and Toner labs specifically, and Xerox develops their own pigments/molecules (as they like to say)?

> print longevity discussions

The biggest problem with inkjet is clogged nozzles from dried ink. The best solution is to flow through a bit of ink every now and again when the printer would otherwise be idle. The business model of expensive, vendor-locked ink maximally leverages this reality against the customer's interests to the detriment of print quality and nozzle longevity. So no, vendors don't use DRM to maximize longevity. Quite the opposite. Lol.

> The biggest problem with inkjet is clogged nozzles from dried ink

My almost a decade old HP Deskjet 4515 Ink advantage is extremely resilient against cartridge clogs. In standard mode, its printing pattern tolerates clogged lines so well, so that you can't see any print quality degradation unless you get a "print quality report".

Moreover, a couple of cleaning runs unclogs all the nozzles 99% of the time, even after 6 months of hiatus.

I never replaced a cartridge because of a clog since I bought that thing. It also routinely underestimates cartridge life. Currently it claims the black cartridge is empty, but it's printing with the quality of a new cartridge.

None of my HP Printers (4515, 5150, 500C and another entry level AIO) never let me down in the cartridge department, even after long idle periods. That entry level AIO just worn out internally, I gave others away because I was upgrading. 4515 is my current workhorse.

The only printer which had cartridge clogging problems was my Canon BJC4300. That thing made me decide to buy nothing but HP only.

That Canon model number looked familiar, googled it and yep it was the same POS I owned ages ago. Can confirm massive clogging problems.

> However, ink chemistry is not some straightforward mixing and the risks are largely downplayed by 3rd party ink manufacturers.

I'd be willing to accept that for systems where the ink cartridges and printheads are separate and third-party ink not up to spec can actually cause serious damage (e.g. clogged ink pipes, replacing or flushing these is a serious amount of work), but HP's consumer printers are almost exclusively made with combined inkhead/cartridges.

Well, I had a Canon BJC4300 with separate cartridges and printheads. These things burst if you don't use printer for some time and the ink dried and expanded. As a result, you'd have four color bands at the end of every line. So, no thank you, I'll prefer combined ones.

My decades old prints done with an HP500C are still intact and looking nice-ish and definitely legible. I don't want to get an old printed document a couple of years old and see it faded away.

Same for photos. I print photos for people and some of them are still looking almost new after 5-6 years, despite being printed with a mid-end "Ink Advantage" printer with dye inks.

For high volume, ephemeral prints, a 3d party ink can be OK, but these are my concerns, and I'm not willing to take the risks personally. Failing print heads and flooded printers are also not in my wish list, thanks.

A simple printer like an old 500C can be cleaned easily, but a more compact AIO with a duplexer cannot be cleaned after such event.

While tangential, I remember seeing HP's own, official black cartridge refill kits when 500C and 550C were new. I didn't see them after.

If you treat your customers like thieves then they'll act like thieves. All of the above is a big waste of time for 99.9% of customers. At the minimum just let it go the first time as long as a customer has a reasonably long subscription. You know their margins on these things are nuts. I know to me and many other IT type folks HP is the last choice.

The easy solution that should've been implemented is to let you "ride out" your last cartridge.

I’ve been a very happy Brothers customer for nearly two decades. We still have the same laser printer. Would highly recommend a laser printer over ink printers in most cases and would advocate for Brothers over any other brand printer at this point. The printer we have has never had any issues, including a situation where a bunch of boba tea spilled into the printer. Hosed it down, let it dry, and still works!

I was looking into Brother (again) as a result of this post, and it turns out they also have their own Instant Ink-style program, with the same "cancel and we'll trash your still-full toner cartridge" terms[0]. Though, perhaps unsurprisingly, it does seem like they do a much better job about making it clearer what you're opting into, though the "we'll make your formerly-working cartridge unusable" note was fairly buried in the FAQs, and not terribly clear up front.

[0]: https://www.brother-usa.com/supplies/subscription-info/refre...

The problem is sometimes, ( 10-20% ) I need colour printing. And colour laser is still expensive. I know it is wishful thinking but I do hope someday we could have some innovation with Colour Laser.

Reposting What I wrote during COVID [1]

I had to install a new inkjet printer because kids now need to print out their homework during COVID.

I swear to god if I ever become wealthy the printer industry is what I intended to completely destroy. Not in it for profit. Not positive sum whatever startup thinking. It will be Zero Sum.

Edit: Lasers are fine. That will be left alone.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30553662

I bought a Brother colour laser 8 years ago for about £150. Its about double that now [1] at £275. The only fault it has had was that once I hadn't used it for a couple of years and the first page I printed wasn't quite perfect. The next one was though.

I think for £275 with toner is worth it. Its pricier up front than the inkjets but the ease of use and reliability are totally worth it for me.

1. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brother-HL-L8260CDW-Wireless-Connec...

If I could ever get one for £150 I would have bought one without thinking. I think £150 / $199 is the sweet spot.

Another problem is I only need it during the pandemic. Otherwise I might only need about 10 page per year. And all of a sudden that £275 investment becomes quite expensive.

> The problem is sometimes, ( 10-20% ) I need colour printing. And colour laser is still expensive

It's worth the cost though. I bought a behemoth Brother printer/scanner laser printer years ago and it's been completely reliable (apart from occasionally disappearing from the network and needing a reboot). I don't have to worry about mainly printing black as the colour toner can hardly dry out and is always ready for use whereas I'm constantly hearing of occasional users of inkjets needing to buy fresh cartridges after just a couple of months of them not being used.

Honestly, looking at the mechanics that go into my Brother color laser printer I’m surprised they go for the price they do. It seems fairly cheap, everything considered.

That’s because they lose money on the printer and make it up with the toner.

> And colour laser is still expensive.

Totally worth it though. I bought a Brother color laser over 10 years ago and it has been flawless. A lifesaver during covid and printing homework at home.

Before that I was going through cheap inkjets which each only lasted a year or less before becoming clogged and unusable. While cheap at around ~$100/ea, it was more expensive over the years than simply buying a color laser once and stop the frustration and waste.

My wife found some deal on Facebook marketplace for a HP 5550DN for $75. Had an extra set of toner cartridges for it, though the ones already in it aren't only a little below half full.

Though, if you don't have ample floor space... it's the size of our washer I think, what with the extra trays and whatnot.

> And colour laser is still expensive.

I've used colour laser printers at home for quite some time. An older Xerox (6125?) for some years which I later replaced by a 6510 (built-in duplex, faster) when that started to exhibit problems. They cost a lot more than for cheap home inkjets when looking at the initial outlay (£150+ compared to £30+) but once you consider the cost of ink (even just black) including the fact that if you don't print regularly you waste a pile on head cleaning as they gum up, after a cartridge or few you hit break even.¹

Or you used to. Manufactures seem to have got wise to the fact people were starting to get wise to this: the price of official consumables has gone up, and they've cracked down on 3rd party toner carts much like the inkjet world. Running the models that have replaced the 6510 would cost considerably more per page² even if using official cartridges for the 6510. I found this out when looking for a laser to replace my Dad's inkjet that had just died. Looking at second hand units of models that are still dirt cheap to run, they are selling for silly prices – presumably people & small businesses that print high volume are collecting them while they can.

I will be taking very good care of my current printer to try make it survive as long as possible…

edit: this change has happened in the last few years, just checked records and I bought the 6510DN in July 2019.³

> I know it is wishful thinking but I do hope someday we could have some innovation with Colour Laser.

Unfortunately the only innovation seems to be in techniques for gouging money out of customers, inspired by methods that have worked in the inkjet market. When you achieve world domination you may have to cast the laser printer market into the same volcano as the inkjets and completely start afresh.


[1] Also, the output quality is far better unless you use more expensive paper (I get crisper black text out of my laser on cheap stock paper than inkjets get on more expensive stuff designed to minimise ink bleed and such). Photo output on plain paper is better too, though ink wins significantly once you buy speciality paper – though for the few pages of that sort of printing I've needed in recent years I've just had done at the printing booth in the local supermarket and that further beats home inkjet output and isn't particularly expensive for small one-off tasks.

[2] Noticeably more than 10x, as high as 25x comparing 3rd party supplies which the new models make harder to use.

[3] It was £146.22 including VAT & delivery, so my top-of-the-head value of £150 above was about right. The 6125 I bought in Jan 2009 for £126, pretty much the same accounting for inflation though lower spec (no built-in duplex), so it did a touch over a decade of good service.

I also have a ~$70 black-and-white Brother laser printer which is more than a decade old at this point. Never had a single issue or complaint with it.

I can second this. I got a Brother HL-2270DW about 12 years ago and I have had no major complaints with it. Works great on Linux too.

I had a similar (or the same) HL model. It lasted 10-12 years, not sure exactly what the failure mode was, but I think I paid $75 for it. Definitely paid more for drums and toner over the years and I never even bought 1st party drums and toner!

I replaced it a few years ago with a more recent HL model that is almost identical, but has wifi. Really happy with the quality and reliability of both printers so far.

I bough a Brothers laser printer in 2020 because my kid and I were home to study and work, and I needed to print documents. It has been a glitch-free experience for me. The firmware works charmingly. No more messy ink change. And the laser cartridge lasts a long time for me. I would never go back to anything else! One thing I wish could be better is the cloud printing. But it could be because all my online accounts are now MFA and it is PITA to set up my brothers with them.

Brother is less bad and I still recommend them, but they're not not shady.

The starter cartridge that came with my laser printer said it was empty after 500 pages. I found a way to reset the chip from the printer and am still printing with the same cartridge a year later.

That said, it now works with Linux on WiFi and has not given me any other issues.

I've had the same issue (and same solution), but it's not shady.

Brother makes reliable printers for offices. A consumer might want to print until the ink gets faded and streaky (to maximize lifespan), but for an office setting reliability is more important. You'd rather replace toner more often and have the prints always look great, than have to QC every sheet to determine if it's time to change the cartridge. Given the variable amount of ink on each printed page, Brother knows that a toner cart should last X pages 95% of the time (or whatever it is).

Has anyone bought one recently that can vouch for Brother (especially on Linux)?

I love the "10 years ago" testimonials and those are helpful, but I'm worried that quality/philosophy of Brother might have dropped in the intermittent time. Or are the same models still available new? That would be neat.

We've been using previous equivalents of DCPL3551CDW and MFCL3770CDW in work site container offices for basic printing/scanning not much seems to have changed from the previous models in that use case and the latest (installed last month) seems as solid as previous iterations.

The more abused ones (plenty of dust from gravel lots and probably takes a meter tumble every 6-12 months (not that we'd be told about it)) last 2-3ish years before something get finicky enough on them that replacing them makes sense. The ones in the more cared for areas haven't had an issue and have only been replaced because site managerials want a newer printer when the mistreated printers are 5-6 years newer than theirs (but no actual issue with the printer).

I can say that quality hasn't changed noticeably from what I have seen in this narrow band of their products and that these machnies have done well and lasted longer than other ocassional cheap printer we've put in for whatever reason. I'd extrapolate from that to say ten years in a home office printing a few pages a week should be easy for them (Though maybe there's a part that gives up the ghost after 7 years that I don't see pop up in our use case).

Can't comment on linux support.

I bought a B&W half duplex Brother printer circa 2011 and have no problems with it. Besides the fact that it was half duplex. I've bought a generic brand toner cartridge twice since then; neither have had problems.

Earlier this month I upgraded to a full duplex color laser printer. (HL-3270CDW) Not because my existing printer is broken or has stopped working, but I was printing sections from a book and it annoyed me that I had to do all the flipping manually and gosh it would be nice if it were in color. Kind of an impulse buy.

It's the same. Everything is the same. It's got new tech in it; it's got newfangled stuff like wifi, bluetooth, and NFC. (my old one had nothing but a USB port; they had versions with ethernet and wifi but I got the cheapest one) But it looks the same, it feels the same, it sounds the same, the drivers are in one of my distro's package manager's overlays and just work. (Gentoo/brother-overlay)

I haven't owned it long enough to need to replace the toner. Amazon has generic versions of the toner for 30% of what Brother is charging. I don't know whether it will last forever with no issues, but my magic 8-ball says "all signs point to yes."

My old printer is the HL-2240. It's discontinued. It looks like the new model in that line is the HL-L2320D. Besides the fact that they've discontinued the half-duplex printers, (D is for full duplex, W is for wireless, C is for color) it looks like it's basically the same exact thing; they're putting precisely zero effort into "updating" the styling which I like. The toner cartridges for the 2240 and 2320 are not compatible, but Brother is still selling toner in the 2240 cartridges, despite the fact that they're not selling any printers that use them.




I have the HL-L3270CDW, too. No complaints so far. Linux, Mac, and Windows support, and the color is not too bad. It's not as beautiful as a good inkjet on quality, glossy paper, but it does the job for basic PDFs and web sites that have colored text.

I've had a Brother color laser for nearly 10 years at this point. Still on the original toner, because I don't print a lot. But it doesn't dry up like ink, and the printer just happily sits there waiting for the occasional page I need to print. Best money I ever spent on a printer.

I have a Dell 1320CN Color Laser, which has been great for some 15 years. The sad part is that it needs drivers on macOS/Linux which only work on Intel CPUs. So I have to cuddle an ancient iMac so to keep the ability to print.

I have a 1310CN from around the same period. It has been a great purchase. It has PostScript support. You should be able to get it to print using other PostScript drivers. (I’ve only ever used it from Windows PCs so I can’t tell you something that works for-sure.)

I have a ~$250 Brother laser printer that worked great until it mysteriously stopped accepting print jobs, regardless of connectivity (wifi, ethernet, USB). I've factory reset it multiple times to no effect and the only lead I have to potentially fixing it is reflashing its firmware, but that seems to require some kind of obscure Windows utility that only authorized Brother servicers have access to.

I had a ~$400 Brother laser about 10 years ago that I loved until one day it just stopped working completely. Repair company wanted... $500 so that ended that.

Same here, have a Brother printer that just printed and scanned. did nothing else and did not complain for years. Had the minimum features but that's exactly what I need it for.

I guess HP think they have a monopoly somehow for them engage in stuff like this? Except they don't.

They learned from watching Brother that you can't make any recurring revenue off your printer working without complaint for a decade.

Yes except people could just ditch HP and buy a Brother. It's not like printers are too expensive to replace.

Yeah, absolutely this. I'm incredibly happy with my Brother printer. I've never had a single issue with mine after almost a decade.

My Brother multifunction has been without CYM inks for literally years, which was fine as I printed in only B&W. A recent system update has suddenly made it refuse to print anything, including B&W, because one or more color inks are empty, despite the black being 80% full.

Brother saw the money on the table and have decided to move towards the dark side.

Can't believe people in this thread condoning this practice and sticking up for HP!

OP is in possesion of the physical product that his subscription PAID FOR. They can say the sub is for "pages printed", but that's complete nonsense and everyone knows it. It's the INK OP is paying for. They have paid for that ink. They own that ink. They should be able to use it.

Attaching a subscription to a physical product, and then disabling the use of that physical product, is complete nonsense. The phone contract analogy is a poor one. You are paying off the cost of the phone with the contract. They don't send you a new phone each month, and then stop you using it because you didn't use all your minutes.

Normalisation of stuff like this is alarming. Consumers are done for really, I despair as to where it is all going. Especially when you have a usually informed HN audience sticking up for it.

> They can say the sub is for "pages printed", but that's complete nonsense and everyone knows it.

I actually don't think that's nonsense, because HP is charging per page, not per ink cartridge. You don't get a new ink cartridge every month, you get the ability to print more pages, and only new cartridges as required to print those pages. Put another way, OP's subscription only paid for a fraction of their ink cartridge, not the whole cartridge.

HP could make OP mail back their half-empty cartridge, but that likely would raise the overall cost of the service due to shipping logistics.

I agree the whole concept of this service feels scummy and I would never recommend it to anyone, I just don't find this particular aspect so unfair.

I actually offered to buy my mother a printer with what I considered a more sensible ink replacement situation but she asked for, received and had been very happy with, a printer with the HP Instant Ink subscription. I was astonished, but she's not an idiot, and she doesn't have any reason to lie to me.

She's retired but she does a lot of arts and crafts stuff and seems to print a fair amount most months, and she hates having to drive somewhere to buy ink when you run out, so I guess this is more convenient.

I see what you are saying, but susbscription according to OP was for "HP Instant Ink". I also assume the cost of the subscription was pretty much to cover the cost of the Ink. In my eyes, OP has already paid for the ink. If they want to make it fair, then they could define a charge per page and then bill you for actual pages printed at the end of each month. The fact that ink must be bundled in cartridges that print many pages is HPs problem, not consumers, and they can't work around that with a non-sensical subscription model.

> If they want to make it fair, then they could define a charge per page and then bill you for actual pages printed at the end of each month.

But that's literally how it works! A certain number of pages are included in the monthly cost, and you're billed for additional pages over the limit.

The problem is that OP cancelled their subscription shortly after receiving a new cartridge. So now the options are:

• Make OP return the cartridge.

• Charge OP for the remainder of their cartridge as a cancellation fee. (Yuck!)

• Prevent OP from using the cartridge.


> The fact that ink must be bundled in cartridges that print many pages is HPs problem, not consumers, and they can't work around that with a non-sensical subscription model.

But at the same time: consumers are choosing to buy this subscription. HP provides an option to buy cartridges outright, without limits, and consumers are choosing the subscription instead.

I don't know why consumers are doing that. I would never do it, and I would strongly advise others against it. But many people appear to appreciate the service.

Now, maybe those people are being tricked into the subscription via dark patterns, which would be a problem, but a different one.

>The problem is that

IMO, the Problem is that HP markets this as an ink subscription, when it is really a printed page subscription. It's hard to blame someone for thinking that an "ink subscription" would prevent them from fully utilizing ink paid for during the subscription.

This seems like HP is trying to capitalize on all kinds of other product subscription models popular today (eg: Aamazon Subscribe and Save, pet food deliveries, water delivery, etc.), but purposefully making the marketing as misleading as possible.

Don't call it "instant ink", call it a Print Subscription and you'd probably eliminate most of the problems (and sales...).

It's called "HP Instant Ink" because you don't have to keep track of ink cartridge levels, HP takes care of that for you and bills per page instead.

I honestly thought all the marketing materials I've seen were quite clear about how the service was billed. I don't think changing the name would lead to more or less confusion or sales.

> I honestly thought all the marketing materials I've seen were quite clear about how the service was billed. I don't think changing the name would lead to more or less confusion or sales.

It's very clear how it works.

But sadly, the people that created the program don't spend enough time on the Internet to learn that the way the general public perceives things often does not match reality.

Ever since Instant Ink started, the Internet has been flooded with morons that think they're geniuses by thinking they can buy 1 month of Instant Ink, cancel the sub, and then keep using the cartridges they think they paid $3 for.

If you sub to Instant Ink, you never owned the ink cartridges. At best, you're renting them. Once you decide to stop paying the rent, you don't get to keep using them. I don't know why some people struggle with this.

> I don't know why some people struggle with this.

Because the internet is flooded with idiots, this is a massive waste of perfectly good ink cardridges.

It would have reduced confusion for me, anyway. I thought is was an ink subscription service, because that's how they market it.

But did you actually go through the buying process? I tried it and you have to select a plan based on number of pages.

No, I'm talking about the marketing. But is the fact that it's not an ink subscription service made really clear? Because it's absolutely not in their marketing materials. They do everything possible to make it sound like an ink subscription service.

I could easily see myself looking at selecting a plan based on number of pages and thinking that they're just using that to measure the amount of ink. "Plan x: 10 pages/month" meaning that you get the amount of ink you need per month to print 10 average pages, not that once you get the ink you need to keep paying for it.

> Charge OP for the remainder of their cartridge as a cancellation fee. (Yuck!)

I feel like this is the only reasonable solution? We do this for mobile phones and leased cars as well. I think it’s fairly well understood.

I think that would be reasonable, but isn't it actually a lot less consumer friendly than the current system?

I don’t think so? It feels fair to me that I should pay for something that I’m going to keep using, and unfair (and wasteful) that a company would brick a perfectly good ink cardridge.

> The problem is that OP cancelled their subscription shortly after receiving a new cartridge. So now the options are:

>• Make OP return the cartridge.

>• Charge OP for the remainder of their cartridge as a cancellation fee. (Yuck!)

>• Prevent OP from using the cartridge

• Let the customer use up the remaining ink as a gesture of goodwill so they do not hate HP forever with the rage of 1000 forest fires?

> consumers are choosing to buy this subscription.

The will never again once experience this.

Honestly, people have to remember that customers are not a value in a cell in a spreadsheet.

> • Let the customer use up the remaining ink as a gesture of goodwill so they do not hate HP forever with the rage of 1000 forest fires?

You think people should be able to buy 1 month of Instant Ink, cancel, and keep the cartridges they paid $3 for?

Look at the reaction to Adobe's behavior when people terminate their yearly subscription early and are still required to pay for the entire contract. They're not selling Photoshop by month, it's installments on a yearly contract.

Depends on the actual cost of that first ink cartridge. If it's $3 or less, then by all means let them have it. If it is over, then adjust your subscription's start cost to fit.

You're still opening yourself up to massive losses in profit.

Profit that is desperately needed since the printer itself is being sold at a loss.

> So now the options are:

... or just let them keeps the 50 cents worth of ink and consider it good customer service, let them leave on a positive note so they hopefully choose to come back, rather than burning the bridge? Why do they have to invent some system of enforcement beyond "just don't send any more cartidges"?

While subscribed, cartridges are free and you're billed per page. If you could keep the cartridges, canceling would potentially net you many hundreds of extra pages for free. And you could cancel again and again.

I think the incentive to cancel right after receiving a new cartridge would be extremely high, to the point of rendering the whole service non-viable.

HP would have to limit how frequently customers can cancel, institute a waiting period before resubscribing, or track individual abusers and issue lifetime bans.

Some numbers to demonstrate the above point:

The first result for genuine HP ink cartridge on amazon is $23, and has a claimed yield of 170 pages. Meanwhile, the cheapest plan for HP instant ink is $0.99/month. If you could subscribe for the cheapest plan, then instantly cancel, you're basically getting a 96% discount on ink cartridges.

> If you could keep the cartridges, canceling would potentially net you many hundreds of extra pages for free. And you could cancel again and again

Solution: non-refundable first month, make it greater than cost of first ink cartridge. Risk removed.

That eliminates the risk of any angry customer with disabled ink.

However, the new problem is that most customers would rather have the current situation pay as you go situation than pay up front.

Id be dammed if I pay full price for a product AND a subscription. If it is a 50% discount (as advertised), the customer is still looking at 3 cartridges before they break even.

> And you could cancel again and again.

Don't you have to buy a printer first? Am I missing something here?

> But at the same time: consumers are choosing to buy this subscription.

I wonder how many understand what they're buying into here. It was certainly very far from clear to me.

I thought it was an "ink subscription service." That is, you pay your monthly fee and they provide a continual stream of ink to you.

But apparently, it's not that at all. Instead, it's "printing as a service".

>I thought it was an "ink subscription service." That is, you pay your monthly fee and they provide a continual stream of ink to you.

The pricing section very clearly mentions pages, not ink cartridges. Also, the first FAQ question literally says:

>How does HP Instant Ink work?

>HP Instant Ink is based on pages, not cartridges [...]

Yeah, I understand now. I was 100% not interpreting any of that as meaning what HP means by it.

I was thinking that they were using "pages" as a means of measuring the quantity of ink in a way that people can understand, not as literally meaning "pages".

I thought that way because I really believed HP was offering an ink subscription service, and my interpretation is the only one that makes sense if that's what it was.

But it's not. This feels intentionally ambiguous to me. Perhaps it's not, but I bet my interpretation of what they're saying is not rare.

I remain very pleased to avoid HP inkjets, regardless.

> The pricing section very clearly mentions pages, not ink cartridges.

When you buy a cartridge it's also measured in pages but you are neither guaranteed that many pages nor limited to that many pages.

Thats exactly how it works, except you are paying ahead of time for a bundle of pages and then there is a cost to add more if you need them.


You are paying $6 for 100 pages. Then you can add 10 pages for $1 (that amount changes based on the subscription).

We can argue that the program has some scummy aspects but if we are going to argue about this we should at least look up how it actually works here.

> You are paying $6 for 100 pages.


That's insanely expensive. You'd think they'd have to beat the prices to print things out at the local copy shop, at least.

I think that's more-or-less in line with the cost of HP ink cartridges.

The real moral of this story is that people should stop buying HP printers, or at least HP inkjet printers.

(For a laugh, see also The Verge's 2023 Printer Buying Guide: https://www.theverge.com/23642073/best-printer-2023-brother-...)

It's actually pretty competitive. The 100 pages plan is £4.49/month in UK. If you use them all that's 4.5p a page. They can all be full colour photos if you like.

My multifunction printer cost £50 and a ream of paper (500 sheets) is about £6.

Commercial printers charge 10-30p a sheet. I even have an acquaintance with a pay per click service contract on his huge Konica Minolta photocopier who seems to pay the same per click as I do.

Are you are that is expensive?

Where I am printing a black and white document is around $0.20.

A color print is $0.60.

So 100 black and white pages would be $20 and color would be $60.

Sure you have to add paper to that calculation but considering that is a 500 count for $10-15 thats still makes it cheaper wether you are doing black and white or color.

Now yes you do have to take into account the cost of the machine.

Well, it's expensive compare to copy shops around here. Color prints in very low quantities start at 5 cents per page. If you are printing a lot of pages, the per page price starts to drop.

HP's plan also drops prices when you subscribe to more pages.

$1/month -> 10 pages $4/month -> 50 pages $6/month -> 100 pages $12/month -> 300 pages $25/month -> 700 pages

In my mind, the value for the consumer is at the lower prices, where it's nice to have a printer for a few pages a month, but you know the ink is going to dry in the cartridge before you use it. I'd think HP's program will send you a new cartridge when you need it in that case, but I don't know. At higher volumes, it's probably less expensive to buy cartridges as needed, unless all your prints are full page coverage. But then ink jet has a weird niche; it's cheap, but it's worse for low volume printing because the ink can dry and foul the machine, and it's worse at high volume because the print speed isn't near laser (or highvolume impact!) and the supplies are expensive. It's great if you print a few pages a week to a few pages a day. Warm up time can be better or worse, depending on how long it takes to squirt all the ink into the sponge before it prints.

While I have long sworn off HP, I have been curious about this for 2 big reasons.

1. is the one you mentioned with drying ink. I have to imagine that given some of the low print volumes that they are anticipating this and it is part of the system?

2. Related to this, are they smart enough to send lower or higher volume ink cartridges based on your plan and usage.

It kinda makes sense that neither of these are outlined in the FAQ since ink management is supposed to be on HP's side with this. But I am curious (not enough to buy a printer and sign up though)

From what I can tell I can't find anything like that near me.

I justified buying a brother laser printer about a year ago after running the numbers for low to mid levels of printing and it just didn't make sense to spend as much as the places around me were charging.

It would be an interesting thing to look at what the pricing for things like this actually is around the country to see if something like this actually makes sense.

If I was doing a super low volume (but consistent) of prints I could see how the math on one of these lower plans makes sense given the options around me.

If you're willing to share, I am curious to know where you can get color copies starting at 5 cents per page. Although I don't spend much time looking at copy shop prices, I have never seen prices even close to that low.

It's a mom & pop copy shop near me. I'm sorry, I don't want to identify them because I don't want to publicize my location that precisely.

It's the only copy shop I use, so I have no idea if their pricing is unusually low or not. I assumed it isn't that different in other shops, but it might be.

It's very low - Staples starts at 20 cents a page for B&W.

So having a print service for average price At Home is make sense.

“HP Instant Ink” is the name of the product.

When we use “Windows” we don’t complain that they’re not real windows. When we use a Mac, we don’t complain that it’s not real Macintosh apples. It’s just a name.

As the parent commenter says, you pay explicitly for a quota of printed pages, not ink or anything else. Therefore, they do define a price per page, anywhere from 10c on their cheapest plan down to 3.57c on their most expensive.

Is it a shitty practice? Certainly. But you explicitly dont pay for ink, regardless of the name of the product.

People aren't complaining about the name Windows or Macintosh being misleading. When companies are misleading about their products, they can be sued for it (look at Veggie Straws or Hagen Daas. Here are more: https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=b13444ce-27b4...)

The point is, you can't just throw your arms up and say "oh well what a coincidental name HP selected for their product". Misleading names can have a real business impact and might even be intentionally misleading.

Oh please, are you going to complain that the ink also isn’t magically teleported to your door? It is called “Instant Ink” after all. It’s the product’s name, so clearly it must be a factual description of what it does.

The subscription is more than clear. Please show me where it claims in any way shape or form that you are buying a cartridge of ink that you can keep using after your subscription. I’m waiting.

I mean, just looking at the product page it's all about receiving ink in a timely manner. It's not until you get to the poorly-named Ink Plans that you see that it's actually all about pages.

Did you read the same page I did?

Because it’s called a “printing plan” the entire way until you get to the pricing section, where they use “ink plans” to obviously distinguish it from the “toner plans” next to it.

It also actively talks about pricing being per page, replacements per pages printed, literally everything talks about it being based on pages printed. It even explicitly tells you you won’t get cartridges regularly, but based on pages printed. It’s more than clear that the whole thing is based off pages printed and not the ink itself.

It even explicitly goes over this in the FAQ on the homepage:

> The subscription cartridges only work while your printer is enrolled in HP Instant Ink service, so you will need to purchase store-bought cartridges after your final billing cycle to continue printing.

It’s like you’re trying to manufacture the outrage on the spot based on a loose skimming and the appearance of keywords.

> It’s like you’re trying to manufacture the outrage on the spot based on a loose skimming and the appearance of keywords.

Good advertising should only require loose skimming to know what they're trying to sell you.

> Good advertising should only require loose skimming to know what they're trying to sell you.

In my experience, good advertising is the opposite - it requires extensive reading about what they're trying to sell you - because it's good advertising, not a good encyclopedia.

Did anyone say they had good advertising? No.

Are they transparent about the pricing being per page, the actual thing we’re discussing? Yes.

The goal posts are over there. Gotta love the fact you ignored all of the points in favor of a bad strawman. As I said, manufactures outrage.

The goal post you're debating is a low bar for reasonable business practices.

Okay so you have no actual rebuttal of my points. Thanks for making it abundantly clear.

That's because you disagree that the issue is about good advertising. The page isn't as clear-cut as you've pointed out. It's also worth mentioning that buying a new InkJet printer is also tacked on with 2 years of "ink" advertised as "Up to 2 years of ink in bottles included in the box." that is also actually based on pages. Searching for HP InkJet on your search engine of choice will show how it's an "ink and toner monthly subscriptions" in their snippets. It's a shady business practice that we shouldn't be encouraging at all.

Abundantly clear landing page which calls it a printing subscription, explains exactly what you pay for and what happens when you cancel, and how to continue printing with your own purchased ink after you cancel is "misleading". Definitely.

A landing page that doesn't mention pages until you scroll halfway down to their pricing plans and see "10 pages/mo.", the details of the plan hidden behind a collapsed accordion, adding a subscription to all new printers to lock users in. _Definitely_ not misleading.

> You can cancel or change your plan anytime. If you don't use all of your pages, they automatically rollover to the next month.

> HP Instant Ink uses high-volume cartridges, pricing based on pages printed, and direct-to-customer shipping delivered only when you run low.

> You’ll get your first cartridges when you sign up and then receive replacement cartridges based on how much you print—not every month, like other subscriptions.

Ok, Jan.

This was called out in literally my very first reply to you. I'm done with this bullshit. I'd say have a good day, but I'd rather hope you didn't.

Sorry, Ctrl + F only found "Can I change or cancel my plan anytime?". The rest of those are hidden in those accordions (I assume, didn't check). Hope you have a good Monday and your printer mysteriously stops working.

Those three quotes are literally not in the FAQ but go off sis.

You really can't bother to even look at the page can you? Jesus fucking Christ, the audacity.

Are you gaslighting me?

Ctrl + F "high-volume cartridges" = no results found

Ctrl + F "first cartridges" = no results found

Edit: And this is the page I'm looking at https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/cv/instantink


The first result of your precious Google search.

Sorry that you use Google. Very confusing for them to have two landing pages for the same service on separate domains with basically the same SEO score.

> It’s the product’s name, so clearly it must be a factual description of what it does.

Nope. If it's misleading, it doesn't matter. Names don't have to be verbatim, but they should not be misleading.

> show me where it claims in any way shape or form that you are buying a cartridge of ink that you can keep using after your subscription

Not my claim. What I'm saying is that I believe the name and advertising could be seen as misleading in a similar way to existing class action lawsuits. It doesn't matter that the hpconnected site is ranked higher in google; the hp.com site for instantink is pretty misleading as seen in all the points in the other thread.

Maybe you don't think veggie straws was misleading either, but a class action lawsuit [1] came of it. My original point was that the name of the product is more significant than you implied in your comment.

1: https://truthinadvertising.org/class-action/sensible-portion...

Its not like im a fan of the plan (i opted out and buy my own ink) but HP is right

Its super easy to be on a "heavy" plan, get 10 ink cartridges, then cancel the first month and use that ink for a year. This causes HP to lose profits. They are betting that people don't really print as much as they think they do, most people are overpaying for their plan, and a small amount are actually using it up.

Imagine if Netflix would let you KEEP your downloaded content after you stopped paying. Customers would pay for a month, download everything, cancel, then watch stuff throughout the year

HP essentially created an optional netflix-style ink cartridge plan. As long as you pay you get unlimited cartridges. The second you stop paying you lose it all. No one is forcing you to opt in, but I know a lot of people who like the style even if they understand they're overpaying

The cost of the subscription should (And I'm sure does--more than) cover the cost of the ink you receive. It's not the same as your Netflix analogy at all, because there's only a finite amount of ink you'll receive, and HP knows exactly how much it is, and sets the price of the subscription accordingly.

well there is still a difference. Under the 100 page plan, you can print 100 completely black pages using the max amount of ink for the plan

or you could print 10 pages with a single sentence in them

HP sends you new cartridges depending on your use. So the second person in my example would not get a new cartridge, while the first would get 3 in the mail the next day. Both are paying the same monthly payment.

Its a dumb idea, but some people opt-in to it. And from my personal experience people end up with lots of extras being shipped to them. They can have 5-6 full cartridges at home at a time, for future use. HP doesn't want you to get stuck without ink, so they overstock you. Cancelling can cause people to take advantage of that overstock

> HP doesn't want you to get stuck without ink, so they overstock you.

Presumably they also don't want to spend more than necessary on shipping. It's a lot more economical to send 6 cartridges at one time, than to send 6 packages with one cartridge each.

> The cost of the subscription should (And I'm sure does--more than) cover the cost of the ink you receive.

It might not even cover shipping costs for the ink, you pay $0.99 and receive a full set of fully filled cartridges, that may last you a few years on a $0.99 subscription.

> The cost of the subscription should (And I'm sure does--more than) cover the cost of the ink you receive.

Are you really willing to subscribe to a baseline 100USD/month subscription for ink?

why does it have to be a baseline? how about "send a more ink when the current one is low". like amazon's feature to automatically reorder certain items when they run low. you can then specify that each order should be 1, 5, 10 or however many cartridges you need, and if you pick 10, but are not a heavy user then it simply takes longer until you need another delivery.

> why does it have to be a baseline? how about "send a more ink when the current one is low".

Because that is how much a single, high capacity ink cartridge costs on average. Can't be lower that the price of the cartridge, if you're buying whole cartridges. Also, will probably be more than this, because you might need several cartridges for more volume, or several types of color cartridges.

if that's the price of a cartridge, and i need that much ink in a month, then sure. but if i don't use up a whole cartridge in a month, or even if i use it up faster, then there should be an option to get the next one only when the current one is empty. why should committing to a fixed amount be the only option?

charging by pages printed is just creative accounting and unfair to those that print lots of pages with little ink, while giving an advantage to those who use lots of ink per page. what's more, that's information i don't even want the printer company to get.

there is only one benefit to charging per page: print shops, because they charge per page too, so the cost and profit margin per page will remain the same regardless of how much ink they need.

It’s not “condoning” anything. It’s accepting reality.

If you sign up for a cost per print plan, you get some benefits in consideration for your payment. If you drop it, those benefits end. It’s no different than renting a car and expecting to keep driving after it ends.

I use HP Instant Ink because my kids want to print color. Otherwise, I have a brother that I purchased like 15 years ago! The cost is cheaper at the volume we print, and you don’t get in a position where your marginal cost goes up by $75 or whatever the cartridge sells for. I think we pay about $60/year.

My sister-in-law is a photographer and prints alot. She has the fancy Epson tank printer, which makes sense for her as she prints easily 2,000 prints a year.

> If you sign up for a cost per print plan, you get some benefits in consideration for your payment. If you drop it, those benefits end. It’s no different than renting a car and expecting to keep driving after it ends.

This is more like paying for an aftermarket maintenance plan and then expecting to drive your car (that you bought) after it ends - like no fucking shit you should expect to keep using your car after that maintenance plan expires. When they expire they don't siphon out your gas, oil, windshield washer fluid, engine coolant, brake fluid, and automatic transmission fluid!

Nah, it's more like leasing a car, stopping payments and then expecting to continue driving the car (it's been already delivered to you!)

No, you're paying as much for this printer up front as you are for other printers, so you're just wrong here.

We’re talking about the ink cartridges, not the printer itself.

Okay, let me explain this analogy because I think that I am not communicating clearly

There are two components that you are paying for here:

  - For the car analogy - purchasing the car outright (not leasing!) and a maintenance plan for the car (which requires you to pay for and lays out a set of conditions for maintenance - bring the car in every X miles for an oil change, etc)

  - In the printer case - purchasing the printer outright (not leasing!) and the ink plan for the printer (which requires you to pay for and lays out a set of conditions for maintenance - limited number of pages before refills, etc)
In the first case, since you purchased the car outright, you would expect to be able to operate the car after the maintenance agreement expires - with you paying out of pocket for the cost of maintenance, of course. It would be asinine to assume that you lose the ability to use your car if the maintenance plan goes away - that's now how purchasing items works.

In the second case, you purchased the printer outright - it's not advertised as renting or leasing a printer, it's advertised as a sale. It is asinine to assume that you would lose the ability to use the printer after the automated ink refills end since you bought the printer outright, and bought for a price not for significantly less than the competitors printers without this service.

Another example that's closer to the model that HP is trying to mimic - razors and razor blades. Assume you sign up for a shave club that sends you blades and shaving cream every month with the purchase of a razor handle and a fee. If you cancel the shave club they don't ask you to send the razor back, and if anyone tried to enter your home and take it from you then you'd be well within your rights to involve the police for burglary and theft.

If HP doesn't want to get backlash for this then they need to clearly advertise their printers are leased and are bricks if you ever sign up for their instant ink and cancel. Otherwise they are being completely unreasonable, no matter what cutesy language they want to hide behind in whatever contract the user is not free to negotiate or is forced into arbitration if there are disputes.

They're a big boy company, no more lying to their customers.

If we're going to strain the car analogy (car analogies always get strained), this is more like:

Buying a car outright, then buying an "InstantGasoline" plan where you pay per month and get a tanker of gasoline delivered to your house, but if you go over 500 miles in any given month, they remotely disable your car and the tanker's gasoline pump. So you thought you were buying gasoline (given the marketing name "InstantGasoline") but instead have a useless car and locked gasoline tanker.

This is definitely a case of deceptive marketing, and people are defending them because what the company is actually providing is spelled out on page 72 of some dense, single-spaced contract somewhere.

> Especially when you have a usually informed HN audience sticking up for it.

It's pretty on-brand for the HN audience I feel. For several years HN has felt like the epitome of the temporarily embarassed millionare meme. The site often supports corporations taking what they can for users, and the only reason I can see for people to feel so strongly about it is they either are or imagine themselves in the future to be stakeholders in companies that make their money from exploiting consumers.

It goes deeper than that, it's just easier to call out when it's a corporation as rich and large enough as HP being defended. There's a more base "blame the victim to avoid having to acknowledge something is wrong and having to do anything about it" mindset at work. If the reader blames the victim (for not reading what "HP Instant Ink" service actually is) then the reader doesn't have to do anything. After all, it's the victim's fault for not reading the contract/having infinite knowledge/wearing too short a dress. If there was anything wrong with the attacker's behavior then the reader would have to get outraged and do something, or respond with something deeply cynical, powerless and defeated.

You don’t get to decide what people are paying for. HP and customer who sign the contract do. If the contract says they’re paying for the right to print, not the ink, then that’s what they’re paying for.

I wouldn’t use this plan because I don’t print enough to make it worth it, but that doesn’t mean they are evil for offering the option.

If it’s hidden in the UI that’s bad. OP sounds a lot more surprised than he should be.

> They can say the sub is for "pages printed", but that's complete nonsense and everyone knows it.

Not really, they have a choice of plans, all based on how many pages you want.

The cartridges are pretty big. Most people will get one only every few months or so, as they need them.

No, OP paid for a fraction of the ink they received. If you don’t finish paying for your house or car, you don’t get to keep them. HP is simply not asking for OP to return the fraction of the ink he’s deciding not to buy, presumably because it’s not worth the hassle to them.

Added: I, for one, am pleased that HP has sent me hundreds of dollars worth of consumables (paper and ink) and lets me then pay for it over time, at a discounted rate and no interest.

Wonder if it would help if people bought every unit available, disassembled all the packaging (so they have to go back to HP) and returned them.

Probably wouldn’t take long to get banned from like every retailer though.

I wouldn’t really endorse this but HP stiffed me on $500 when they canceled an order I placed with an HP gift card. It just, disappeared. Their customer support never even understood the problem, they just sent different and wrong form replies to everything. It had been too long to charge it back but at this point they’ve earned every bit of hate they’ve ever got in my mind.

> They can say the sub is for "pages printed", but that's complete nonsense and everyone knows it. It's the INK OP is paying for.

No, they are paying for pages printed. Which may be a dumb model for consumers (its common for business) but its the model they explicitly signed up for.

This is the kind of stuff the Defective by Design campaign [1], which opposes DRMs, has been warning us about.

This particular DRM is designed to waste ink, because this ink you are prevented using is not going to be used by anyone. This ink has cost resources and human time to be produced, and is just going to be discarded for the sake of a making a subscription-based business model work. Which fundamentally makes it faulty.

We already produce too much waste, we don't need to produce some voluntarily.

This kind of practice is shameful and should be boycotted.

I don't care for arguments like "yeah you didn't pay for printing so it's only fair you are prevented from doing it". While I could agree with this, the end result is more waste.

HP should be forced to allow any ink it sends to be used completely.

[1] https://www.defectivebydesign.org/

As I told here before; buy a printer, don't rent it. Get yourself a EPSON EcoTank. Yes they are pricy, yes they require some more maintenance but you BUY the printer. EPSON does not care if you buy ink from them of another party. No chips in the cartridges because there are non. It works with tanks. You can fill it with the ink you want. When I use a online store to buy ink that has clone-cartridges for each type of printer on the planet they do not have a replacement for the ink for my printer as they can not supply cheaper ones than the one EPSON sells. €40 for a set of four. And they last for about 3 years. And since I do not print that much... way longer...

I'd recommend a color laser for most people, unless they print a pretty high volume. Ink goes bad over time.

If you're high volume, I'd still go laser. Toner is expensive, yes, but you get far more pages per dollar.

AFAIK, the only reason to go inkjet is if you're regularly printing photos, as inkjets typically produce better photos than laser.

I probably print 20 pages per year. I bought a Brother monochrome laser printer because I want the convenience of printing from home but got tired of my inkjet cartridges clogging and drying up.

Honestly, I would say _most_ people could get buy on black and white laser. If you absolutely need or want color then get it.

Why is a color laser not suitable for high volume? What is "high volume" in this case? (100 pages per week? day?) Laser printers are cheaper than inkjet on a per-page basis.

You're misreading the comment. The parent commenter is trying to say that since ink goes bad over time, it doesn't make sense to use inkjet printers unless you have high print volume to justify it. Therefore, the logical replacement is laser printers, which do not go bad over time (or at least at a much slower rate).

You're correct that if you're printing 100s of pages per week, laser is the way to go. That wasn't really what I was talking about, although I realize I was not very specific.

Most people just print a few pages every few weeks, and I'm arguing that those are also good use cases for laser. The upfront cost of laser is pretty low these days. You can often get a color all-in-one laser, with duplexer, for under $200.

The sweet spot for ink is somewhere in the middle. Printing regularly, but not high volume.

I have an EcoTank and it is great and I would recommend it to anyone but there is a small catch of the maintenance box which is where ink goes when cleaning is being done inside the printer. If you don't print often you are more likely to use the maintenance box.

I have not looked at how easy it would be to clean out, reuse and reset the box but I suspect it is possible.

I spent the best part of a sunny Saturday trying to work out why an elderly relative’s HP printer wasn’t working.

The error messages were incredibly unhelpful (I like to believe they were too ashamed to tell you what was actually wrong).

Turns out their credit card was due to expire soon. Was shocked when I found that was the issue & had a hard time explaining what had gone wrong. I’ll definitely advise against HP printers going forward.

Yeah, I had to debug this with my MIL over the phone. Her card had expired and she ignored the many many many emails, and the printer had a light blinking, but it wasn't listed in the manual, and I don't use the service, so...

Once I figured out what the problem was, she was able to get the printer re-enrolled, but then it took a while for the printer to realize. And then, the ink was apparently dried up, because it didn't want to actually print. I don't have a problem with the HP printing plan, but clear messaging on the printer would help, and inkjets not being terrible would also help. (Also, it would help if my MIL wouldn't leave problems unsolved ... 'Ohh, it stopped working a few months ago', but that's a different issue)

I recall seeing this mentioned in the setup screen when they tried to sell my uncle on their stupid ink scheme. This crap is why reading the simplified terms of service matters.

It's a deviously smart trick, because people who let their subscriptions lapse probably really need to get something printed right when they find out about this restriction. You then have a choice between running to the mall and buying a new ink cartridge (or more realistically, a full printer, because those are cheaper) or paying for another year of ink subscriptions and continuing the print right away.

Friends don't let friends buy HP consumer printers. If you can get your hand on a second hand laser printer you'll probably be happy for years, but their inkjets are manufactured e-waste.

I tell people to avoid inkjets altogether.

Inkjets are great for photos and people who print a few pages a week, but are absolutely the worst for people who rarely print anything.

Leave an inkjet alone for months and you can end up with permanently clogged print heads.

I still like to think that those inkjets using tanks you fill up yourself are better in that regard. More expensive to buy, but cheaper per page and, I hope, more tolerant to 3rd party ink (unless I miss clever way to verify the liquid itself comes from the OEM once the bottle was opened. Come think of it, I am sure there are some stupidly complex ways to do just that...). But you actually never know, do you?

I looked in to those and you can still get dried print heads. You also have the issue that all of these home ink jets have a waste pad which is not user serviceable. Once you hit a hardcoded number of pages, the printer bricks itself as the pad is full.

To resolve this you are meant to buy another printer. Or you can pull the whole thing to bits and try to replace the pad, then find some way to hack the firmware to reset the counter.

You can find service software to reset the counter, but after doing it a several times it can actually overfill and ink can start leaking from the bottom of your printer. Some more creative people are re-routing waste ink tubing into a bottle to contain it.

I've actually used printer like that (Epson). Everything was fine when I was printing frequently, but it still dried up after not using for months. No amount of "cleaning" or "deep cleaning" restored it to 100%.

They verify ink bottles by requiring you to enter CD-key like number which is printed on a bottle. However, ink is cheap and you don't have to buy 3rd party one.

The vast majority of the cost-per-page for me is the cost of the printer. I reckon it's about £1 a page, or £10 a year (new printer every 5 or so years, 10 pages a year)

> Friends don't let friends buy HP consumer printers.

A while ago, pre-subscription era, I bought their cheapest inkjet printer in a store because I needed to print/sign/scan a bunch of documents.

I fully expected to hate it... and to my surprise it is actually decent. I have it for seven years now and unlike all other inkjet printers I used in the past, its ink does not run dry. It never let me down when I needed to print something in a hurry.

For most people running to the mall/office store when they need to print is a better deal. Yes the costs per page are high, but how often do you really print - between ink going dry, and cheap printers not having a long lifespan, the actual cost per page of a printer you own is probably a lot higher than you think. Plus keeping paper in the printer, and all the other issues are not your problem.

I still own my own laser printer because the convenience of not having to leave when I want to print is worth it, but I'm not pretending this is something worth doing.

Agreed, not only are the printing services actually cheaper in the long run, you get access to better and more specialized printers. Want to print on A3? no problem. Want to print stickers and have them die cut? Easy. The commercial printer will be 100x nicer than yours. You don't have to maintain it or deal with crap and malicious firmware.

Running to a store to print definitely seem like a better deal than buying personal printers at this point. Since those printers are in fact being leased instead of being sold, might as well have them take up somebody else's space.

>For most people running to the mall/office store when they need to print is a better deal.

Maybe if you don't value your time, or have perfect foresight/planning (eg. it's 10pm and you needed something printed for 9am tomorrow). The cheapest plan is $0.99/month, or $12/year. That seems like a pretty good deal to avoid having to do a 30 minute errand every time you need something printed.

Yes, our happy medium is a black-and-white laser printer that we use a few times a week. For color printing we go to the store a few times a year.

That’s always why people have bought home printers. The convenience is worth it to them.

To be fair if you don't print much (10 pages a month), it's not such a bad offer. ~1$ a month for a worry-free printing experience? Sign me up.

At any lower volume a print shop might be a suitable alternative.

Your point is fully valid. At some point tho - this feels like our lives are made so complex and we'll be so low on resources that we can only follow pre-chosen paths.

Printers do not come with a full ink cartridge. The ink itself is a better deal if you buy it online.

Another year? In the UK at least it's a monthly subscription.

This is why I never buy ink jet printers, and I also usually buy thoroughly-used office printers.

I have a 14 year old HP office laser printer (P4515x). After replacing the main cartridge (with a third party one!) and upgrading the RAM, it works fine, and it plugs into my ethernet. MacOS recognized the bonjour protocol using the generic PostScript driver. It works fine plugged into my 10 gigabit ethernet switch with a cat 6 cable.

I mean, it's 2d printing; this is something we've more or less nailed since the 90s (more or less with the advent of PostScript I think?); as long as the computers in my network can speak the protocol, I don't really see what I'm missing out on by not having a new printer...except subscription fees.

I'm using my ink jet to decorate my home with my own photographs. Borderless printing on high quality thick glossy photo paper, photo rugs and other types of paper is crucial and completely impossible with new or old office printers. The fidelity and color saturation just isn't there. Even the newest color laser printers are so far behind that they're unusable for this purpose.

I'm not saying it doesn't work for you, I'm saying it doesn't work for me and answering the question "what is one missing out on".

Yep, that's totally fair. I replied in a sister response, but I'll admit that my response was probably a bit reductive and a bit too me-centric.

In fairness, I do think a lot of people really just have a printer around for the same reasons that I do, which is to print out primarily text documents, in which case I don't think most people would be missing a lot getting an old black and white laser printer. I have seen people spend a lot of money on printers and cartridges just to print out three pages of text every couple months, and those people would probably benefit from a cheap, old, black and white laser printer.

> as long as the computers in my network can speak the protocol, I don't really see what I'm missing out on by not having a new printer

Borderless printing, color accuracy, the ability to use high-quality photo paper come to my mind.

That's fair; all I ever really print are documents (academic papers, lecture notes, and forms that I need to sign). The printer I mentioned is black and white, so color isn't on my radar.

I'll admit that maybe I was a bit reductive with my statement, let me amend it a bit: for a large percentage of common printing jobs, I don't think a lot of people are missing out by opting to not buy a new printer (except subscriptions).

Those have all existed for a couple decades. (I used to work at a printer company.)

You bought one of the printers that end with an "e". For example:

HP OfficeJet Pro 9025e vs HP OfficeJet Pro 9025


HP LaserJet Pro M234sdwe vs HP LaserJet Pro M234sdw

The "e" printers support subscription based ink and require an internet connection otherwise they won't print.

- It says it all over the outside of the box

- It says it in the box on multiple sheets of paper in big text

- It says it when you are installing the driver

- It says it when you are purchasing the subscription

The cost of the printer is subsidized to some extent (similar to carrier locked phones) and they are subscription based printers.

I don't understand how HP is at fault here. Subscriptions are a shitty business model, but nobody forced you to buy a subscription based printer. If you didn't want that, then you should not have bought the "e" model, you made that decision yourself, ignoring all the warnings outside and inside the box, regretted it later, then blamed HP.

Well looking the amazon (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/HP-OfficeJet-colour-printer-Instant...

It's not that obvious at all, actually even under their question section they state the subscription is not required:

- Does an HP+ Printer require a subscription to the Instant Ink service or rother ongoing costs?

"No, there are no additional costs associated with HP+. You can choose to enroll in an optional subscription for Instant Ink and receive 6 months subscription, but it is not required."

Okay, that is garbage... I don't know what to say other than to also look at Amazon reviews... But yes, totally misleading and you would never know until you get the printer in hand and purchase the subscription.

It depends on the cartridge. If you buy the subscription, you get special subscription cartridges that will stop working if you cancel, but they are included in the subscription price. If you buy normal cartridges, they will work until they are empty.

If you paid money for a cartridge that doesn't work without a subscription, you got scammed by the seller, not by HP.

You can load non subscription inks into the printer just fine.

You can load normal cartridges into that printer. You cannot get a subscription cartridge and keep using it after you cancelled the subscription.

That's understandable I guess, however I wouldn't say it is clear. Especially should the purchaser be someone not tech orientated.

I own such an HP printer and it seemed quite obvious from the on-screen instructions.

I'm sure in person it is, however my original point is it's not clear from the amazon link.

That might very well be, but the _on printer_ experience is pretty obvious I have to say. It even clearly explains what features are available / unavailable if you use non HP cartridges.

HP+ is different than Instant Ink. HP+ is required to use the printer, but does not cost money.

Instant Ink is an optional subscription, which they plainly state, and that costs money.

It says HP+ is optional in a lot of places too.

It is marked as HP+ eligible. It states that HP+ is chosen or not at setup (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/71OZXjots2S._AC_SX679_.j...)

In the requirements it says: "The optional cloud - connected HP+ printing system requires an HP account, ongoing internet connection, and use of Original HP Ink Cartridges for the life of the printer."


I don't buy inkjets anyway because they aren't worth it over color laser printers, but i will say trying to understand any of this seems hard at a glance.

You know, you're not "wrong", but I do kind of feel like it's sort of a depressing state of affairs that HP is just allowed to break stuff and remove value from the economy, and it's a profitable decision for them.

Like, fundamentally an economic model should incentivize the creation of value; I buy a widget from you for $N, you get $N, and I get to own something that is worth $N; if HP is actively sabotaging existing printers/cartridges, it just feels like it's subtracting value.

Stating on the packaging that it is subscription based does not change the fact that it is a very anti-consumer move from HP.

But like anything that has a subscription, don't buy it if you don't agree with it. Purchase the non-subscription based printer.

Just like I can purchase the non-subscription based Netflix to watch Stranger Things... Oh, wait...

Purchase not needed!

https COLON SLASH SLASH thepiratebay.org/search.php?q=stranger+things&all=on&search=Pirate+Search&page=0&orderby=

You can purchase the Blurays. You don't need Netflix to watch Stranger Things.

This is Hacker News. How do I turn an "e" printer into the equivalent non-"e" printer?

PSA: When you sign up for a subscription service you're telling the company they should keep doing what they're doing. What they're doing is repeatedly taking (often small) steps to degrade your rights and give themselves more power over you & your wallet. If you give them an inch, they'll take the piss.

(I am not suggesting that OP or anyone else getting screwed on a subscription thing are in the wrong.)

Can we actually have a discussion on here about printer manufacturers' practices, and which companies engage in this type of behaviour? If we could figure out who the companies that don't engage in this are, maybe we can change our purchasing decisions slightly and help steer the market towards less craziness.

This! I have a Brother B&W laser printer/scanner that does exactly what it's supposed to do -- print and scan. It works with CUPS drivers, macOS detects it fine, even Windows. No bloated drivers to install that send a bunch of telemetry shit over to the manufacturer.

Mother-in-law needed one too last Christmas, and we ended up getting her a Brother as well, even if the cost was a bit higher than the HP equivalent, purely because of their practices.

Vote with your wallet.

Every single post about printers turns into that and the answer is mostly Brother.

The best option imo is to just not buy a printer. Use the print service at the local library/office supply store. Its cheaper all things considered and you don't have to deal with shitty hardware.

Yeah I'm lucky to live in a country where every 7-11 has a multicopier that can print off of a USB drive/SD card. I like to print out small A3 posters for birthdays, but I'd never buy an A3 printer. Occasionally I'll print a photo or two, but it's rare enough that an inkjet would clog. It's very handy.

You say that, but in the UK, or at least where I live, they started adding a £2 fee per session, on top of the 50p per black and white A4 print (which alone was more than decent). I'm not paying £2.50 for a 1-page document. I checked multiple stores and the Post Office, £2 / £2.30 I think flat fee before they even print you anything.

You mean another tiresome discussion about how techies still don't understand the razor and blade business model of printers and are outraged anew every time someone explains it to them?

HP explicitly offers a subscription model of printing in which you can pay by the page. But cue the outrage about (surprise!) why that can't be subverted.

I use a LaserJet 1012 that was thrown out at a local law firm. It's almost 20 years old, and still prints great. I used it through high school, college, and now grad school, and haven't once changed the toner. It's plug and play on Linux, but is a pain to get working on Windows >7.

I don't know who still makes decent printers today -- I see a lot of people recommend Brother -- but why buy new when there are tons of cheap old laser printers from the days before they all became anti-consumer garbage?

> but is a pain to get working on Windows >7.

For the audience, the key is using the Vista USB drivers from the site. Good thru 10 and I assume 11.

> It's plug and play on Linux,

Did not know that. Which distro? I have an Arch install that might benefit (from that slow, reliable 1010/1012 slog).

Arch. I have hplip installed as well, and I'm not sure if that's necessary or not.

Neolib fantasy to shape your world via consumption decisions. Try “5 whys”ing your way to a more actionable root cause and sharing that message instead of a fragile “Wirecutter revolution”.

Pretty cool that we've let ourselves be led into a world where there's a rising private tax on use of "the printing press" and accept the choices that enable monopolizing control in the first place. Buyer's boycotts promote accepting the parameters but rejecting this one bad thing that just happens to be a product of those parameters and leave people exhausted from uninspiring campaigning with questionable impact. Like voting blue (or red whichever you want) harder to try to fix this kind of problem.

Speaking practically on topic, I haven't seen any Wirecutter-level consumer awareness campaigns in tech lead to material lasting change against corporate interests. The state of most Wirecutter type coverage of product categories seems to be generally worsening and getting more expensive rather than resulting in consumer-friendly change from market pushback. What you advocate for is essentially a Wirecutter movement and is as radical as Wirecutter is which we can see the underwhelming results of already.

You’re downvoted, but you’re right; “personal carbon footprint”, plastic straws, and boycotts of companies behaving egregiously etc. are all traps to blame individuals for problems caused by other actors. Empowering individuals to solve societal problems rarely work.¹

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=31178680

I can see two different cases here:

1. You are not OK with Shell dumping so much oil in the sea, so you stop buying Shell. But your action doesn't have any effect: you stop buying shell, oil still in the oceans. Boycott isn't the best path, unless it's really massive.

2. You are not OK with HP printer practices, but you don't necesarily want HP to go bankrupt or to pass a law banning HP practices. You just don't buy HP printers and you live happy afterwards. What other people does is not your problem. Boycott works.

You can say that HP selling ink subscription doesn't have any externalities, so every individual that buys one of such subscriptions is to blame and they don't shift costs to other people. You have options that keeps you safe from HP practices. Ask any Mac or Linux user how do they feel about Microsoft pushing trackers and ads on their OS: at best they don't care, but probably they laught at it.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

— John Donne, 1623

Any time I talk politics in HN people always come back when individualist career advice lol like I don’t know there are tricks for some of us to get ahead in this society. Thanks for getting it

To everyone defending this, if you were to cancel a physical magazine or newspaper subscription, should the publisher be allowed to send goons to break into your house and burn all of the issues they already sent you, or should they have to settle for just not sending you any more new ones?

I'm not defending this, but that's not really a fair analogy. It's more like "the gym already gave you a keycard, why should they cancel your access just because you stopped paying for the membership?"

Every gym membership I’ve had would let you finish the current month.

To extend the strained analogy, they do let you finish the month (of printing pages). The complaint here is more “my keycard barcode is still legible, but it stopped working at the end of the month”.

    Cancellations and plan downgrades are effective after the last day of the current billing cycle.

As does this one from HP. The OP mentions explicitly that they let their subscription expire, and the printer THEN stopped printing.

I'd consider that more analogous to what HP did if they made you send back all of your old cartridges, but they don't. HP doesn't treat the cartridges like you're renting them, and doesn't care about getting them back, just that you can't use them anymore.

The gym is selling access to the equipment and HP is selling access to the printer. Both the keycard and the ink cartridge are tools provided to allow you to use your access. Neither require you to return the tool providing you access after you cancel.

Analogies keep failing

It depends. Did the contract that you agreed to and signed of your own free will, without coercion or duress, give the publisher the right to send goons to break into your house and burn all the issues they already sent you after you cancelled?

I would argue that if that is indeed what you actually agreed to, yes, the publisher should be allowed to do that.

The obvious solution is - don't accept stupid fucking contracts with terms you don't actually agree to!

Well HP also doesn't make you burn all the pages already printer right? They just don't let you print new pages with a cartridge you didn't pay for.

This would be easier to understand if you had to return the cartridge after cancellation, but they probably figured it's cheaper to let you throw it away.

Do you genuinely think those two scenarios are fairly comparable?

Yes. In both cases, you were paying for a recurring delivery of a physical product, and the question is when you stop paying for new ones, should the seller be able to keep you from getting any value from the old ones too?

> In both cases, you were paying for a recurring delivery of a physical product...

This is precisely where the analogy falls down. https://www.hp.com/us-en/printers/instant-ink/plans.html

Each plan talks about paying for x pages per month. It's pretty clear you're not paying for recurring delivery of a product; if you only print a few pages a year, you may never need a second delivery, ever.

> This is precisely where the analogy falls down.

No it doesn't. The reason you're paying is for the ink to be delivered, even if pricing is only indirectly related to that.

> if you only print a few pages a year, you may never need a second delivery, ever.

This isn't true because the cartridges dry out and clog up if you don't use them enough.

> The reason you're paying is for the ink to be delivered, even if pricing is only indirectly related to that.

This is factually plain wrong. You’re paying per page. If you print more pages than agreed, even on the same cartridges, you need to pay up per page. When you sign up, they even tell you to keep your original cartridges because the new ones are for your subscription only.

No one is paying for an agreed amount of ink or cartridges to be delivered. That’s not the service. The advantage of InstantInk is that you literally don’t care about ink anymore. You know you can print the amount of pages and HP takes care of when and what ink you need.

> The reason you're paying is for the ink to be delivered

No, you're paying to be able to print up to 10 pages a month.

Thought experiment: If signing up for a subscription required an agreement to mail (postage-paid) the cartridge back to them when the subscription lapses, would that be legitimate?

> Thought experiment: If signing up for a subscription required an agreement to mail (postage-paid) the cartridge back to them when the subscription lapses, would that be legitimate?

If it was to refill the cartridges and send them to another subscription customer, yes. If it was just to make sure they end up in the trash instead of getting used, then no, that should be illegal.

So your concerns are purely environmental?

Not purely environmental, but that is a piece of it.

> The reason you're paying is for the ink to be delivered

Wanting this to be true doesn't make it true.

The wording is clear. You're not paying for ink, you're paying for pages printed. The ink is nothing more than a vehicle to deliver those printed pages. You never owned the ink.

That distinction must be understood. You never owned the ink cartridges. At best, you're renting them. Once you decide to stop paying the rent, you don't get to keep using the cartridges.

They didn't confiscate already printed pages, they stopped allowing you to print more.

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