HP Ink and Toner as a Subscription Service
HP seems to be dipping its feet into the “product as a service” or subscription-based with their “Instant Ink” service. Long story short, they will send you “free” ink if you subscribe to their service. They will monitor your printer and when you reach a certain threshold, they will send you replacement ink cartridges. On the surface, it sounds really cool. But if you read the fine print, it starts to sound sketchy, let me explain.
I purchased an HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e All-in-One Printer, and the ink that was included with it is my free trial of the Instant Ink service. Wait, what, stop the presses, they have always included ink when you buy a new printer, and so does every other printer manufacturer, but now they want you to think that you are getting free ink.
When I was setting up the printer, I chose an instant ink plan of 300 pages/month for $11.99 a month. On the surface it sounds like for every 300 pages I will pay $11.99 and for every magic number of pages, they will automatically send me replacement ink.
I logged into my Instant Ink account and it shows me that I have printed 331 pages, but don’t worry, I can buy additional pages at 10 pages for $1, which is crazy. I’m not going to track my usage, which is what HP wants me to do, so they can make more money.
HP describes the Instant Ink benefits as:
- Printing plans are based on pages, not buying cartridges. Color, black, and white, and photos all cost the same.
- Shipping, recycling, and use of cartridges are all included. When you print more, choose to upgrade or pay as you go.
- Cartridges have more ink than retail cartridges, so you don’t need to replace them as often.
- Check your pages, shipments, and plans anytime at hpinstantink.com/signin.
- Your printer automatically orders more ink before your ink levels are low.
I signed up for 300 pages per month, but what I didn’t realize is that if I go over the threshold, the printer will enter an “error state” and will not return to service until I purchase new ink from the Instant Ink program, this also renders the scanner inoperable.
Basically, it is described as an “endless supply of printer ink”, but there is a dark side to this.
There are two “significant catches” of the program. The first is that you can only use the ink cartridges that are supply from the Instant Ink program, you can not use a store bought cartridge, regardless of it being a genuine HP cartridge or a third-party cartridge.
In real life practice, if a cartridge eruns out of ink, you are required to replace all the cartridges, regardless of the amount of ink that is remaining in the cartidges.
Some subscribers are stating that they end up with late and faulty cartridges that leaves their printer inoperable for extended periods of time.
And if you cancel your subscription, HP disables the cartridges and forces you to buy new ink cartridges from a retail location.
Class Action Lawsuit
There is a class action lawsuit against HP for this “instant ink” service. In mid August, a federal judge has rejected HP’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that it intentionally designed its all-in-one printers to be unable to scan or fax when they are low on ink, as a means to increase profit by boosting ink sales.
Increasing their profits indeed, HP printing products, including printers and supplies, generated $18.9 billion, or 30%, of HP’s $63 billion of revenue in the year ending Oct. 31, 2022.
“Printer ink — which can exceed $80 an ounce — is more expensive than many cherished luxury items including silver, caviar and champagne,”
Things You Need To Know About HP Instant Ink
What Is a Page
HP counts a page as any page with any amount of ink on it. So, if you printed a period, then that is a page, which also means test pages and the like are counting against you.
Overages Are Bad
If you go over your plan’s allotted page count, and you have no rollover pages available, you will get charged for additional pages.
HP is Big Brother
HP monitors every page you print so they can send you replacement ink cartridges. When you sign up for the program, you authorize HP to remotely monitor your page count, ink levels, the type of documents you print, and the type of device(s) you print to and from. You also allow them to have your name, address, email address, printer model, and serial number.
It Isn’t Instant
It takes 10 days or more to get your replacement ink. The idea however is to send you ink before you run out.
Roll Over Printed Pages
You can roll over unused pages so you can have more pages next month.
Last Minute Thoughts
This post is based on my experience and those of some other users online. Your experience may differ.