HP has taken measures to disable the printers of customers who use ink cartridges from cheaper rivals

A prominent computer brand has rendered its customers’ printers inoperative when they employ ink cartridges from competing firms.

Hewlett-Packard, commonly known as HP, has incited outrage by introducing a recent firmware update. This adjustment prevents customers from utilizing less expensive, non-HP ink cartridges in their printers.

With the new terms, customers’ devices were remotely updated, stipulating that their printers will only operate if they use approved ink cartridges.

This measure bars customers from using cartridges that do not contain an HP chip, which is usually pricier. If a customer attempts to use a cartridge that is not HP-branded, the printer will decline to print.

In the past, HP printers would simply display a warning when a third-party ink cartridge was used, but now the printers will outright refuse to print.

The printer manufacturer stated the update was rolled out to decrease the probability of malware attacks, citing that “third-party cartridges using non-HP chips or circuitry can present risks to hardware performance, print quality, and security.” HP also mentioned its regular updates as a means to enhance its services, such as sending alerts to certain customers when their ink levels are low.

However, HP’s website reveals that the company also obstructs the usage of competitor’s cartridges to “uphold the integrity of our printing systems, and safeguard our intellectual property.”

Customers have taken to social media to express their indignation, stating that they felt “duped” by the update. HP ink cartridges can be more than twice as expensive as those offered by third parties.

This isn’t the first instance of HP infuriating its customers by restricting the use of alternative ink cartridges.

Since its initial implementation of dynamic security measures in 2016, the company has had to distribute millions in compensation to customers in the United States, Australia, and across Europe.

Just the previous year, the company compensated consumers in Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Portugal with $1.35m (£1m) who purchased printers without knowledge of the cartridge-blocking feature.

Consumer advocates last year urged the Competition and Markets Authority to scrutinize whether the costs of branded ink and “dynamic security” practices were justifiable to consumers. This followed discoveries that less popular ink cartridge brands provided better value for money compared to major brands.

The consumer organization, Which? accused manufacturers of “actively preventing customers from exercising their right to select the cheapest ink, thereby securing a better deal.”

A representative for HP claimed that printers employing “dynamic security” are labelled as such on its product packaging, technical documentation, and various online resources.

They indicated that only a portion of its printers come with dynamic security measures, though they did not detail which ones. According to its website, all standard HP printers will reject cartridges that utilize a non-HP chip or circuitry.

The representative further noted that some third-party cartridges repurpose the HP chip or electronic circuitry, and those cartridges will operate as usual.

HP stated that some customers can opt to deactivate the cartridge-blocking feature in the printer’s settings, although this depends on the printer model. Others will be left with a printer that only functions if they agree to spend more on HP-approved ink cartridges.

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