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Why Printers Suck #247: HP's Getting Sued Yet Again

Whether there’s an omnipotent God or not, he or she definitely exists and hates printers. Like Bluetooth, printers are against God’s wishes, violating universal laws on such a level that they must be forced not to work in ever-more impossibly unlikely ways. As such, the people who make them are cursed to be purest evil in every action. HP’s getting sued again.

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Printers have never worked. Well, never when anyone’s ever needed them to. They work when you first set them up, and they print that text page to get your hopes up, but when you have to have that boarding pass printed out and the flight’s leaving in 43 minutes, it won’t even light up. This is because, as previously explained, they’re a blasphemy against our Creator.

The issue is, in more recent years printer technology has improved, such that paper jams are far less likely, and intricate digital screens can provide us with more coherent feedback about why it will only print the left side of the image you desperately need to just be done already. In response, printer manufacturers have had to step up their evil game, going to new lengths to make the machines unusable in any clutch moment. HP really leans in in this regard, with its attempts to block people from using affordable third-party ink cartridges in their hell-powered devices.

This is all via a delightful piece of hardware DRM called Dynamic Security, where HP’s printers look for a chip on ink cartridges, and if it’s not one of its own, has the printer throw a hissy-fit and refuse to work. It’s super-shitty, and as Ars Technica reports, has previously cost the company millions of dollars in settled cases over the last few years. Yet, despite all the many times the company has handed out cash to make court action go away, it keeps on doing the same old trick. Which is why another lawsuit has been filed, this time in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, looking for $5 million and a jury trial.

This new case alleges that HP rolled out a firmware update to printers in late 2022, instructing them all fold their arms and refuse to work, right after a price-hike of its own ink. The ink that costs more than just buying another printer.

Don’t forget, this is the same company that has the “subscription service,” Instant Ink, that encourages customers to sign up to a contract to be charged for ink whether they use it or not. You pay a monthly fee to HP for the right to receive more ink when your current cartridge runs out, even if it doesn’t run out for months, as I discovered to my own enormous embarrassment.

In fact, I only discovered this after I bought a new, official HP ink cartridge for my printer, because a replacement one had been sent out months previously and printing things so rarely, I’d completely forgotten. And guess what?! The company’s own cartridge refused to work because it wasn’t an Instant Ink one. Which was…spectacular. The other one was lost, but because it hadn’t reported back that it had run out, I couldn’t get another one…

Why should HP be allowed to force its printers to only work with its own proprietary-chipped cartridges? Well, there isn’t a reason, which is why it keeps handing out millions of bucks to settle all those cases. Did I cover this tech story on a gaming site just so I could bitch about how much I hate HP? I sure did!

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