With advancements in technology over the recent years, we’ve seen a huge shake-up when it comes to consumer purchasing habits. With the rise of e-commerce, retail has transcended physical mediums and has now become globally accessible through a mere click of the mouse.
Subscription service models have been thriving in this environment; whether they be for entertainment, cooking, or memorabilia, there is a niche subscription service for almost anything you can think of. These services are focused on making life easier and eliminating trivial tasks by paying a monthly subscription fee.
Want to try exotic snacks from all over the world? – There’s a subscription service for that.
Need new clothes but don’t have the time to shop? – There’s a subscription service for that.
Did your printer run out of ink and you need to order more? – There’s a subscription service for that, but it’s a lot more complicated than you might realize.
A subscription service seems like a no brainer. Ink can be costly, especially name-brand such as HP Printer Ink. This service sets out to tackle some of the cost issues and reduce the hassle of purchasing new ink cartridges.
But is cheap printer ink too good to be true? If you plan on buying an HP Printer, you need to be well informed when making your decision. Below, we’ll go over some of the benefits and things to consider when signing up for the subscription service.
What is HP Instant Ink?
Introduced in 2013, HP Instant Ink is a subscription service that sends HP ink cartridge replacements directly to the customer based on their ink usage. HP monitors how much ink you use and automatically sends out replacement HP ink cartridges accordingly. Tiered printing plans are required for this service and can run as high as $19.99 per month.
The subscription service model has a multitude of benefits, whether it be convenience, reliability, or waste reduction.
The appeal of an easy to use service by a reliable brand is a great selling point for those looking to delve into the field.
However, there are many caveats to the subscription services model in general that you should be aware of to help you make an informed decision. Subscription services thrive on their convenience factor, but you may be charged a premium in exchange.
As with all subscription plans, you should always read the fine print and do your research before committing to a new service. HP Instant Ink’s Terms of Service page has a lot of useful information that can be influential to your decision to purchase.
We’ve broken down the most important points that you should consider when it comes to purchasing HP Instant Ink.
HP Ink Cartridge Ownership
While advertised as a subscription service, HP Instant Ink is more akin to a rental service. You are essentially purchasing a select number of pages to print per month, not the entire ink cartridge that they send to you.
Much like a rental service, you do not own the printer cartridge; you are merely paying to use it.
After cancellation of your HP Instant Ink subscription, the remaining ink in your HP cartridge will no longer be usable . HP Instant Ink uses DRM (Digital Rights Management), which is a form of digital copyright protections, that blocks the user from printing with that cartridge after cancellation. You must then return the issued HP ink cartridge back through the mail.
Is Wi-Fi connection required for HP instant ink?
Yes! HP monitors your printing activity to provide the best user experience. This constant monitoring however, can prove to be a hindrance as you are required to be connected to the internet at all times in order to print anything. Those who live in areas with spotty service will be stripped of their right to print if their internet connection is lost, regardless of their subscription payment.
The monitoring feature is also used to notify HP of the exact date you cancel your subscription, This allows HP to retroactively bill you for each free month of service you received upon cancellation.
Pricing and overage charges are tied directly to the plan that you choose. Lower tiered plans are more enticing towards casual consumers who do not necessarily print as much. Conversely, they have a much higher overage charge.
We’ve broken down the PPP (Price Per Page), so you don’t have to.
In some cases, the Price Per Page (PPP) nearly doubles. For the $19.99 Business plan, you are paying two and a half times more per page if you exceed your limit.
If you are printing more than 15 pages every month, the Free plan may not be the right option for you.
Let’s say you go over your 15 pages and then end up printing 300 more by the end of the month. That’s going to cost you $30 in overage charges alone. The extra charges are triple the price of the $9.99 Frequent Printing Plan, which would have given you the same amount of pages.
What does HP Instant Ink consider a printed page?
This data is exacerbated by the fact that HP Instant Ink defines a full page as “ a page upon which any amount of ink is placed by your printer.” That means you are being charged in full for any printed pages, including mistake pages, accidental duplicates, or even a single line of text on a page.
This pricing may not seem like a significant amount when broken down by the cent, but these prices can add up very quickly, depending on your HP ink usage.
It is important to remember that the benefit of this subscription service is completely dependent on your frequency of usage.
If you purchase the Professional Plan , you are still getting charged $19.99 a month, whether you print 700 pages or 0 pages.
HP Instant Ink does try to alleviate some of the overage charges in the form of Rollover Pages. Much like cell phone providers in the early millennium, you are given a set amount of hours (pages in this case), that roll over to the next month if not subsequently used that previous month.
These Rollover pages do have a limit and you should know the capacity of your rollover pages before printing. According to the Terms and Service page:
“The total number of Service Plan Pages plus Rollover Pages that You have available to You through the Service in each Month Period may not exceed twice the number of Service Plan Pages to which You are entitled under Your Service Plan”
So basically, if you have purchased the $2.99 Plan with 50 pages per month, if you do not print at all for two months, you will have accumulated the maximum rollover of 100 pages.
Once you have hit your rollover maximum, you are no longer able to accumulate more rollover pages, and subsequent monthly pages that are not used will be lost.
Black & White vs. Color Printing
One of the most important factors when it comes to purchasing HP Instant Ink comes down to your color usage. Printing in color is far more expensive than black and white. Fortunately, HP Instant Ink does provide both Black and Color Ink within the subscription at no extra cost.
But saving money really comes down to how much you will utilize printing in color. If you own an HP Photosmart Pro and will primarily be printing photos in color, you will eventually save money in the long run. For those printing mostly in black and white, the cost may outweigh the benefit as it may just be cheaper to purchase the HP 65 ink cartridge than pay a monthly subscription fee for it.
Not All HP Printers Are Supported
Only twenty-four HP Printer models are compatible with HP Instant Ink’s program at the moment. With hundreds of other printer models being excluded, it seems like a hard push for the consumer to upgrade to their latest product.
Some of the newer models, like the HP OfficeJet Pro Premier All-in-One Printer and HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 are fully supported but can cost upwards of $300 on the official HP online storefront. These modern printers contain new features, like the ability to communicate with HP servers and notify them when you need a new ink cartridge sent.
Other popular HP printer models, such as the HP OfficeJet Pro 8710, HP Envy 5055, or the HP OfficeJet 3830 are left completely in the dust. With no official word from HP, they are unlikely to see support in the future.
The majority of subscription service value is dependent on how much you will utilize them. There is great value to be had with HP Instant Ink if you can adhere to its guidelines. If you favor convenience over the price of admission, then this subscription service is a fantastic option for you.
If the price barrier is a prominent issue for you, getting the most out of your HP Instant Ink subscription may prove to be a daunting task.
But there is good news; there are plenty of alternative options for purchasing printer ink. Remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges can cost a fraction of the price of the original HP Printer Ink and will not limit your printing capabilities by the page.
1ink.com offers High Yield and Extra High Yield Ink and toner cartridges that hold more than twice the ink of standard HP cartridges. We also support over a hundred HP Printer Models to ensure we have the right printer ink for you. If you’re in the market for HP ink for your printer, we also offer coupons to save you additional money if you order from our website at 1ink.com. If you’re wondering if we carry your printer model’s ink, give us a call at 866-658-8125, and one of our Customer Service Representative will be glad to answer your questions.