Amazon’s best-selling printer is the HP Deskjet 2755e. It’s not hard to see why. For just $85 you get a wireless color printer, scanner, And six months of free ink. It also comes with HP Plus, one of the nastiest plans Big Inkjet has ever unleashed.
I’m not talking about how printers quietly waste their own ink, or pretend cartridges are empty when they aren’t, or exclude official cartridges from other regions. Heck, I’m not even talking about “Dynamic Security”, the delightful feature where new HP firmware updates secretly contain malware that blocks batches of third-party cartridges and pretends to harden your print head against hacking.
No, the genius of HP’s latest plan is that it hides in plain sight and challenges you to subconsciously give up your rights. Get the free ink and HP will manage your printer for life.
First introduced in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, HP Plus was built around FOMO from the ground up. You only get seven days to claim your free ink, from the moment you plug in a new printer. Act now, and it also extends your warranty for a full year, gives you an “Advanced HP Smart App” and plant trees on your behalf. Because why wouldn’t you want to save the forest??
Here’s a reason, as detailed in a new complaint from the International Council for Imaging Technology (IITC) that could turn into a false advertising battle: HP Plus comes with a firmware update that completely removes your printer’s ability to accept third-party ink. You must purchase “genuine” HP ink as long as you use the printer.
Why wouldn’t you want to save the forest? Oh
It’s not exactly clear How HP has managed to completely block third-party cartridges, but it seems to be true. My own local CompAndSavewhich distributes ink cartridges from some of the largest third-party manufacturers in the world tells me that those vendors haven’t yet found a way to make their aftermarket carts (or even user-refilled “genuine HP” cartridges) work with an HP Plus printer.
It would be one thing if you could cancel HP Plus and use your printer normally again, but no! While HP claims you can “change or cancel at any time,” there’s no way to deactivate the firmware, HP’s own tech support told the IITC. (A Forget source also confirms this.)
“In fact, the only way a customer can get rid of HP+ once it’s activated is to buy a new printer,” writes the IITC. HP didn’t answer our questions about the firmware update, including why it didn’t clearly state that there’s no way to remove it.
The IITC, a group representing ink cartridge remanufacturers, is not yet suing the world’s largest printer manufacturer. The complaint instead seeks to push back HP’s environmental credentials by petitioning a non-profit organization, the Global Electronics Council (GEC), which maintains an “EPEAT” registry of environmentally friendly products.
Want to see the gist of that argument? I went full Blinking White Guy when I saw: HP, the company that repeatedly admits to blocking third-party cartridges for your own goodtells an environmental group that it doesn’t do that at all.
See, when HP gets these printers into the EPEAT registry, it succeeded greenwashes his reputation. The company is allowed to place EPEAT labels anywhere on its website and products, all of which suggest that an independent third party has certified that HP truly cares about the planet.
But EPEAT has a very specific rule that certified printers cannot prevent the use of non-OEM cartridges, and HP Plus is just the latest in a long line of ways HP binds you to its own ink.
Incredibly, the Global Electronics Council seems to be well aware of HP Plus and usually plays along. For example, the HP Deskjet 2755e and family are currently considered EPEAT Silverwith only a footnote that “the optional HP+ configuration does not meet the required criterion 126.96.36.199.”
“[A]Any printer documented to contain HP+ should not be eligible for EPEAT registration,” the IITC states, adding that HP’s Dynamic Security feature is also a clear violation of the same rule – as even HP concedes it is designed to “block cartridges that use non-HP chips or modified or non-HP electronic circuits.”
The IITC says HP released four “killer firmware updates” in the past eight weeks alone to quietly prevent third-party cartridges from working in EPEAT-registered HP inkjet printers and at least 26 against HP laser printers. HP did not answer our question about EPEAT compliance.
But I don’t want you to get too distracted by “Dynamic Security” because I didn’t rather finished warning you about HP’s free ink.
Here are a few choice quotes from the terms and conditions for HP’s ink service which I think you’ll appreciate (mine in bold):
You expressly authorize HP to remotely change, patch, update, or otherwise modify the software, firmware, or programming of your printer without notice to youto provide the Service to You or to comply with applicable law
Remote monitoring may include provision to HP of one or more of: number of pages, types of documents printed (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, PDF, JPEG, etc.), types of devices that initiated print jobs, printer serial number, cartridge information (e.g., status and whether the cartridge was new or used when it was last installed in the printer), and other similar types of statistics with respect to your Service as may be added by HP from time to time
You agree to maintain your printer’s connection to the Internet and not to remove or disable any remote monitoring software or functionality of your printer
If your printer is not connected to the Internet, then the subscription cartridges (as defined in section d. below) will be turned off, and you cannot use them for printing; however, you will still be charged for the Service as described in Section 7 (“Paying for Your Service”). To reactivate disabled cartridges, you must reconnect your printer to the Internet and keep it connected
If Your Service is canceled for any reason, HP will remotely disable the subscription cartridges and you will no longer be able to print with the subscription cartridges. In that case, you will need to purchase a regular HP cartridge that is compatible with your printer to continue printing
HP may increase or otherwise change the Service Plan Fee and the Overage Fee, and add additional costsfor each Service Plan, or otherwise change or add Service Plans at any time in HP’s sole discretion with prior notice to you
Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids in the whole world. Free ink is tempting! But please don’t take the free ink. Please Doing mock Inkjet Supply and Hostage Situations Incorporated until these companies change their tune. (There is a precedent.)
And maybe buy a Brother instead.