HP Is Blocking Unofficial Replacement Cartridges For Its Inkjet Printers

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It seems that HP released a firmware for it's inkjet printers that prevents the use of replacement cartridges that aren't manufactured by the vendor. Read on to find out more.

Article updated on 19/09/16 10:40am with comments from HP.

Inkjet printers are relatively inexpensive these days but the costs of replacement cartridges can burn a hole through your wallet. Sometimes, official replacement cartridges cost just as much as the printer itself. That's why third-party cartridges have become a lucrative business. The print quality of unofficial cartridges can't be guaranteed but at least they don't cost an arm and a leg.

But printer vendors make a lot of money from printer consumables and these third-party cartridges are a thorn in their side. It would appear that HP has taken matters into their own hands. Back in March, HP released a firmware update for some of its Officejet Pro range. At the time, refill company Inkjet411 reported that the firmware (version ending in R1547A) would lock out certain types of third-party cartridges. At the time, it noted that the firmware would impact the following printers:

  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8610
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8615
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8620
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8625
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8630

It was only this month that an influx of HP inkjet printer users started to report that they were getting error messages such as "One or more cartridges are missing or damaged" when using unofficial cartridges. There were talks that HP pre-programmed the failure date for non-HP cartridges in its printer, which the vendor has reportedly admitted to. A HP Australia spokesperson told Lifehacker Australia in a statement that HP has been been implementing features in its HP Officejet, Officejet Pro and Officejet Pro X printers to "secure communication between the cartridge and printer and protect its innovation product offering and intellectual property" since late 2015:

"[HP] printers work with refilled or re-manufactured cartridges with an Original HP security chip; other cartridges may not function. In many cases this functionality was installed in the HP printer and in some cases it has been implemented as part of an update to the printer's firmware. This is not linked to any recent firmware update, in most cases the printer came with this firmware. HP printers are designed to be compatible with refilled and remanufactured cartridges that use Original HP chips, and HP printers do not employ technology preventing their use.   "This impacts only cartridges compatible with OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X print cartridges with an non-HP security chip with HP product numbers 934/935, 950/951 and 970/971. Affected customers are encouraged to contact the supplier of the ink cartridge to determine if their cartridges use a non-HP security chip. HP Original ink cartridges (product numbers 934/935, 950/951, and 970/971) always include an Original HP security chip."

The HP Support forum has been swamped by customer complaints regarding the same issue. Here's one from an unhappy customer called Ted who is currently using a HP Officejet Pro 8610:

"Printer worked fine for 9 months then on 9/13 HP uploaded without my permission a firmware update that caused a message " damaged cartridge" for all my cartridges and then it refused to print. I use it daily for work and now am in trouble. Others must have the same problem. Is there a way to stop HP from doing this to [people] who have bought their equipment. [Lawsuit] perhaps?"

The response from a HP employee wasn't exactly helpful and probably rubbed salt in the wound by suggesting that the customer should buy consumables directly from the vendor:

"… Regards next steps, you could return them to the place of purchase, or switch to original HP ink. If cost savings are a concern you could perhaps consider the Instant Ink program?"

Ted's reply?

"Better than that, I turned off automatic updates, so this cannot happen again....Thanks. Ted"

Burn.

If you're experiencing the same issue with your current HP inkjet printer, there's really nothing much you can do if you've already updated the firmware. Your best bet is to return your cartridges to the retailer you bought it from. The firmware reportedly blocks older chips that are used on third-party cartridges so you can try getting ones that have newer smart chips that are compatible with the software.

If you haven't updates the firmware, Inkjet411 suggests preventing future cartridge lockouts by disabling HP Updates, but bear in mind that may leave your printer vulnerable to security flaws that emerge.

[Via Reddit/HP Support forum]

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Comments

    I have a 10 year old photo printer from another manufacturer that I have been using 3rd party inks with and am happy. I see no reason why I would entertain buying another printer, let alone one from a manufacturer that is clearly having issues surviving and is placing constraints upon it's (potential) customer base.

    This is a bit of a dick move, my HP inkjet (thankfully not on this list yet) cost me $125 but yet replacement inks cost me close to $100, i don't print so much in colour and black cartridges are about $20.

    I think it might be nigh time to disable automatic updates.

    Last edited 19/09/16 10:54 am

    How about actually selling printers and ink for an appropriate price, rather than this contrived mess of We will gouge them later like a junkie.

    Last edited 19/09/16 11:39 am

    That's gonna make some lawyers happy when the US wakes up today.

    Imagine if HP were into building high rise units...

    "Sorry sir, that is not a HP approved lounge you've "installed". Please return it and buy THIS lounge at 10 times the price..."

    I used to swear by HP printers. I've owned 4 HP printers, a laptop, desktop and PDA, at work i purchased multiple HP printers and devices, i even did work experience at HP when i was in year 12 doing desktop support.

    Then I bought an All in one HP (i forgot the model number), but it couldn't even print on custom size paper, HP said they don't support that on t heir low end printers).

    The last straw was when i replaced the ink and the fresh official cartridge said it was empty or counterfeit (bought it from officeworks, replacement said same thing), so i bought a Brother MFCJ5720DW that does A3 prints and heaps more than the POS hp did, and got a great deal from good guys + cashback (thanks ozbargain).

    Due to their incompetence providing decent printing equipment and customer service HP has made the shitlist, and ill never buy another HP product ever again (not even that lovely looking HP Spectre), used to recommend their printers to anyone and everyone, now i just recommend avoiding them.

    HP is a shadow of their former selves.

    I am sure Lexmark did this with their toner cartridges. It didn't last long, The re-manufacturing alliance took them to court and won.

    Had an HP ink jet printer a few years ago - worked OK, but came up with a printer error on occasion - very hard to clear, no explanation available, even powering it down and restarting didn't clear it reliably - so frustrating and time consuming that I literally turfed it into the garbage and bought an inexpensive Epson laser printer - which just sits there and consistently prints what I ask it to - year after year. HP used to be great - not so much now.

    This issue with 3rd party cartridges is something consumers need to know *before* they buy a printer. We don't sell printers but we built a tool to compare based on running costs and highlight which printers have known issues with 3rd party cartridges like this HP problem.

    Thanks, Tim

    I found a way to roll back the firmware, and re-enable the cartridges that HP is falsely claiming to be "damaged". I did the rollback, and my carts are now working!

      Bob,
      Would you please post your solution in steps that we can take?
      Thanks,
      Ray

        HP have since issued a Firmware version which removes the security features. After a couple of weeks battle with HP I had my HP6820 replaced with a new model 8720. Painful process.

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