HP sold about 220,000 printers in Australia with the euphemistically named “Dynamic Security Feature” (DSF). And while anything called a "security feature" sounds like a good thing, its purpose was to stop people from installing non-HP ink cartridges. As a result, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has told HP, through a court-enforceable undertaking to compensate customers who were unable to use non-HP ink cartridges due to an undisclosed technology in their printers.
Owners of HP OfficeJet inkjet printers using non-HP ink cartridges had those ink cartridges rejected, and in many cases, received an error message which indicated that the cartridge was damaged, when this was not the case.
HP has since made available an automatic firmware update for download which removes the DSF from certain inkjet printer models and allows customers to use non-HP cartridges.
“Consumers were not made aware of the restriction on using non-HP ink cartridges when buying the printer or downloading the firmware update, and were denied the choice to accept or reject it.” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
HP has admitted that by not disclosing to consumers that these printers, or the firmware update, included technology preventing the use of certain non-HP ink cartridges, it was likely to have breached the Australian Consumer Law by engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct.
If you had a printer that was caught up in this imbroglio then you may be eligible for $50 in compensation.
These are the affected printers:
- HP OfficeJet Pro 6230
- HP OfficeJet 6820
- HP OfficeJet Pro 6830
- HP OfficeJet Pro 8610
- HP OfficeJet Pro 8620
- HP OfficeJet Pro 8630
- HP OfficeJet Pro X451dw
- HP OfficeJet Pro X551dw
- HP OfficeJet Pro X476dw MFP
- HP OfficeJet Pro X576dw MFP
Of the 220,000 printers sold, more than 2000 customers used non-HP cartridges are likely to have been affected by the conduct, making total compensation for consumers over $100,000.
If you believe you're eligible for the compensation, there's a form to fill in which is accessible from HP.
HP will also make it clear on its packaging and at point of sale, where printers contain the DSF technology and that it is designed to prevent the use of non-HP ink cartridges.
Update: Response from HP
After the publication of this article, HP sent this response:
We are pleased that HP Australia has reached a settlement with the ACCC. HP uses dynamic security in select printers (a) to protect the quality of the consumer experience from potential functionality risks that can be introduced using cartridges with cloned chips or modified or non-HP circuitry, (b) to protect HP’s intellectual property, and (c) to reduce counterfeiting of HP supplies and warranty fraud. HP Australia will continue using dynamic security in select printers in accordance with its settlement with the ACCC.