The "Cartridge Problem" Problem
Consumers who own an HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro, or OfficeJet Pro X printer may have noticed some recent changes affecting those HP devices. That’s because HP scheduled a firmware update for those printer models that prevents them from reading any third-party ink cartridges. Instead of functioning like an ordinary HP ink cartridge, off-brand refills, rebuilt original HP cartridges (called “remanufactured” ink cartridges), and third-party generic cartridges (called “compatible” ink cartridges) are now being read as though they were missing, malfunctioning, or outdated products. The affected printers have been giving error messages that read, “cartridge problem,” “one or more cartridges are missing or damaged,” and “older generation cartridge.”
Many consumers are frustrated with these changes, which they say they did not consent to. While the firmware update may have taken place from September 13 onward, the last actual software update took place in March 2016. This leads some industry experts to speculate that the firmware updates affecting third-party ink cartridges may have been previously scheduled and embedded into that March update.
HP representatives released a statement on the issue after widespread consumer complaints.
“The purpose of this update is to protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property,” HP said. “These printers will continue to work with refilled or remanufactured cartridges with an original HP security chip. Other cartridges may not function.”
There are many reasons for HP’s recent firmware updates. As many news agencies have reported, ink cartridges contain various components that are meant to facilitate communication between the printer and computer. The software embedded in an ink cartridge can help improve the overall print quality of an HP device. These updates are necessary and help improve the way the device functions. PC World reports that consumers should regularly perform firmware updates on a quarterly basis, if not more frequently.
The issue that many consumers have taken with this particular update is that they do not feel they were given any prior notification or choice on the matter. While consumers whose printers were affected may have approved the software update in March, they were not made aware of the full implications of that update until approximately six months later – far too late to opt out of the requested updates or warn others of the change.
This has left a lot of consumers scrambling to figure out what to do: pay top dollar for original HP ink cartridges, or buy a new printer that will accept third-party ink cartridges. Fortunately, there are other alternatives.
What Can Consumers Do?
Once the issue came to light, engineers working for 1ink.com were quick to design a new chip that allows remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges to function properly with the affected HP OfficeJet line of printers. These new chips are being installed in all new shipments sent to 1ink.com customers. Customers who have previously purchased an ink cartridge that is no longer compatible after the firmware update are not left without options. Anyone who has purchased an ink cartridge from 1ink.com that was rendered unusable can contact the in-house customer service team at 1ink.com’s Burbank, California office. A 1ink.com customer service representative will immediately replace the previous ink cartridge with a new one that’s been fitted with the proper components to function with affected HP OfficeJet printers.
“No software update could change our commitment to our customers,” 1ink.com co-founder
Roland Davoudikia said. “We realize it’s not the consumer’s fault that this happened, so we are replacing the affected ink cartridges at no cost to the customer. We’re even covering shipping and handling fees. We will continue working tirelessly to ensure total satisfaction with every purchase no matter what the situation may be.”
Davoudikia has seen similar cases in the past, but he says he has never seen anything quite like this. “HP is at the forefront of technology, and they obviously had very good reasons for initiating this update,” he said. “The problem is that customers feel like they didn’t get any choice this time.”
Many consumers rely on remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges produced or filled by third-party companies to cut down on printing costs. The updates have primarily affected HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X printers that use HP 934, HP 935, HP 950, and HP 951 ink cartridges. A high-yield capacity HP 950 ink cartridge can cost over $40 when purchased through the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). A remanufactured replacement cartridge from 1ink.com is currently listed at $10.99 (as of September 22), a savings of 73 percent off the OEM HP retail price.
“Consumers save a lot of money by using remanufactured and compatible cartridges,” Ramond Davoudikia, 1ink.com’s other co-founder, said. “Buying OEM cartridges can cost around $400 annually. The average printer lasts around three to four years, so buying remanufactured and compatible ink cartridges from 1ink.com can save consumers around $200 annually and up to $1,000 over the lifetime of the printer.”
How Can I Check On My Printer?
It’s easy for consumers who own an affected printer series to check if they agreed to the update. If using a PC, simply go to that computer’s list of recognized printers, right-click on the name of the affected printer, and choose the “Properties” option. A tab should be there that will be titled either “About” or “Version Information.” Consumers should choose that tab to read which software version the printer is currently operating.
If using a Mac, navigate to the printer’s dialog box, choose the “Summary” drop-down tab, and check which software version that printer is running. This software version can then be compared to the most recent update by entering the printer’s name and model number into HP’s customer support website.
Consumers should remember that the existing chip in an older remanufactured or compatible ink cartridge should continue to function normally if the printer has not been connected to the internet. The firmware update that has affected HP printers requires an internet connection to proceed, so consumers whose printers have not been connected to the internet should not be impacted by these updates.