Last week, we reported that HP had released firmware for some of its inkjet printers that blocked the use of replacement third-party replacement ink cartridges. Consumer advocacy group CHOICE even launched an investigation into whether HP broke Australian Consumer Laws with this move. Now HP has come out to apology to customers, not for making its printers unusable with unofficial cartridges, but for not being upfront about it. The company also plans to release firmware to remove the block on third-party catridges. Here are the details.
Third-party replacement printer ink cartridges are popular among consumers because they are a lot cheaper than the ones released by printer vendors. So you can imagine the outrage from HP customers when their HP printers stopped with those unofficial cartridges. HP had confirmed it was indeed a firmware update that caused this:
"As is standard in the printing business, we have a process for authenticating supplies. The most recent firmware update included a dynamic security feature that prevented some untested third-party cartridges that use cloned security chips from working, even if they had previously functioned."
It's a bit of a dick move. As CHOICE explains:
"HP ink, at $5128 per litre, already costs substantially more than luxury goods like Chanel No 5 perfume, which is a comparative steal at $3514 per litre. Consumers are already being asked to pay exorbitant prices for HP ink, and now the company is reportedly cutting off consumer access to cheaper competitors."
In a blog post by HP chief operating officer Jon Flaxman, the company tried to downplay the issue with an apology for not warning customers beforehand:
" We should have done a better job of communicating about the authentication procedure to customers, and we apologize. Although only a small number of customers have been affected, one customer who has a poor experience is one too many. It is important to understand that all third party cartridges with original HP security chips continue to function properly."
HP is also going to fix the problem by releasing a firmware update that will remove the unofficial cartridge restriction:
"As a remedy for the small number of affected customers, we will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will post additional information here as it becomes available."
[Via HP blog]