back to article HP bows to pressure, reinstates free monthly ink plan... for existing customers

In a classic reverse ferret, HP is going to honour a previous commitment to Instant Ink customers meaning they will, after all, be able to print up to 15 pages per month for free over the lifetime of the printer. Just last month El Reg revealed HP had told customers it was ending the free tier of its monthly plan - one it …

  1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    "...they will, after all, be able to print up to 15 pages per month for free over the lifetime of the printer."

    Expect that minutes after installing the latest 'mandatory' software update, printers on the Free plan suddenly develop a series of random, unexplained faults rendering them useless...

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Beat me too it. Was just going to post this :)

    2. needmorehare
      Devil

      Who wants

      Free heroin over the lifetime of the human?

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Why would they need to do that, when those $50 printers don't last more than 3-4 years on their own anyway?

      1. tcmonkey

        3-4 years? Aren't you being a bit optimistic? Judging from the ones I see on the side of the road/in 'recycling' bins it seems that most users are lucky to get 12 months out of them.

  2. Dr. G. Freeman

    Does that include the test pages, alignment pages, ink nozzle cleaning test pages, etc. that it spews out ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You forgot the advertisements... yes it actually prints out forced advertisements.

      HP == Hot Potato

      1. AIBailey

        I've had a HP printer for a couple of years and am still on the free plan.

        At no point in that time have I had any kind of advert printed out, so I've not got a clue what you've heard about?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Probably still has it hooked up to a phone line, and is getting faxed ads. I used to have the one at my business hooked up to a phone line because there was still one vendor who insisted on orders being placed by faxed. Started getting several fax ads per week until we disabled auto answer to put a stop to that.

          Other than that I agree you with, I've had multiple HP printers over the years at home including one sitting next to me right now that's on the Instant Ink free plan. Never have had a single ad printed out. If he's not getting fax ads, he's got some sort of weird malware on the PC it is connected to.

          1. Col_Panek

            Grandpa, what's a fax??

    2. silks

      Combined, that probably gets close to the 15 pages per month!

  3. Flak
    Thumb Up

    Scrooge has seen the ghost of Christmas yet to come

    Power to the people!

  4. Paul Herber Silver badge

    Customer Service (Complaints Division) has now become *the* major profit centre.

    Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

  5. Shez
    Unhappy

    Not available for me

    They removed the 15 pages per month plan for me a few months ago, I'd upgraded due to needing to print more for a few months then when I tried to downgrade the lowest option available to me was the 50 pages per month for £1.99. I've just been on and the 15 pages per month has reappeared for me, but at a charge of £0.99 per month so I can't get back to the 15 free pages per month that I started on.

    1. mj.jam

      Re: Not available for me

      They always had this clause. If you ever moved to a paid plan, you couldn't go back to free. Meant it was cheaper to pay for the extra pages outside the plan.

      They also used to offer special offers on the paid plans, including free months to try to get you not to use the free one.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    How to trust HP now?

    Expect lifetime of said printers to become shorter in a near future

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: How to trust HP now?

      Expect other manufacturers of printers to see an upturn in sales and HP's sales diminish.

    2. sbt Silver badge
      Devil

      Lifetime of said printers

      Maybe I'm too cynical (and not trying to give the buggers any ideas), but I'd not be surprised to overhear in a Palo Alto corridor a suggestion they could "subtlely hasten the end of the printers on the plan by reducing head cleaning operations. It'll save ink and costs, after all. If that doesn't work, start thickening the ink".

      If the Internet has taught us anything, it's that it's almost impossible to get folks to pay for something they were given for free (more than once).

  7. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Let's be honest, it was a bit silly to introduce a free tier in the first place. There's plenty of people out there who don't use more than 15 pages a month and the charges for going over were negligible. Whoever actually thought this free option was a good idea has probably been fired by now. They were probably thinking it was a loss leader and it would encourage people to print more than they normally do. Well it doesn't take a genius to figure out it doesn't work that way does it. You only print what you need. It's not like you're suddenly going to start finding stuff to print is it?

    I was surprised to get the email reinstating the plan. As the first poster above has said, I expect to be getting a killer update at some point. Isn't it HP who have form for killing off access to third party cartridges, so it wouldn't be beyond their internal thought process I'm sure.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >They were probably thinking it was a loss leader and it would encourage people to print more than they normally do

      They were probably thinking it would destroy all other printer makers and get back to the day when 'HP = Printers, Printers = HP'' and nobody could name another maker.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Name another maker

        Curiously the name Lexmark sprang to mind.

        And that the sale of its printer division seems to mark the start of IBM’s long decline?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        HP might have been the standard for laser printers, but IIRC Epson was the best-known player (and their escape codes the de facto standard) with a good reputation when it came to dot matrix printers.

        Not so much in the inkjet era, perhaps...

  8. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    "Printing by consumers has rocketed in lockdown"

    Of course, they could no longer print for free using the company printers... I had the pleasure to catch an idiot who was printing whole books on the company color printers...

    1. Zarno Bronze badge

      Re: "Printing by consumers has rocketed in lockdown"

      Let me guess, they were printing the sepia/parchment toned background color with light-grey text?

      Or just letting it mix CMY to do greyscale?

    2. Martin M

      Idiots

      Not just that. Anyone with primary school age kids will recognise that lockdown = hundreds of pages of bright, colourful home learning - never used a set of toner cartridges so fast in my life ...

      1. Schultz
        Go

        ...primary school age kids ...

        Should have a B&W printer and colored pencils. After some training, they can also color your presentation slides.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: ...primary school age kids ...

          Not far off the way plotters would fill in areas by drawing the outline first then laboriously fill the inside of the shape. Almost as entrancing as watching Windows Defrag of yore doing it's stuff

  9. Dwarf Silver badge

    How generous.

    15 whole pages, thats not even enough for the legal T&C for most things.

    Anyone know if its 15 single sided or double sided sheets for those with duplexers ?

    Its almost like HP want to kill their printing business by making it unworkable. But hey, as they say, what goes around, comes around.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: How generous.

      If they are like Xerox, a double-sided print in colour will count as 8 pages.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: How generous.

        Our kyocera contract charge duplex as one copy.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's an HP printer?

    1. bpfh
      Joke

      What's an HP printer?

      Printer on Hire-Purchase, especially given the price of ink cartridges...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What's an HP printer?

        It's a school boy magician themed printer.

        It doesn't work until you find the secret chamber with the magic spell to get the network driver to talk to it.

        Magic wands may be involved

    2. N2 Silver badge

      A proper one is a LaserJet 5 - no nonesense in that bugger.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        LaserJet4 laughs at you and asteroid strikes

        1. Zarno Bronze badge

          Can confirm. I've seen them used as step-stools and survive to print.

          1. Schultz

            LaserJet4 ...

            "I've seen them used as step-stools and survive to print."

            Aren't you allowed to do that anymore? Now I am sad.

          2. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

            No issues with my HP2015 and HP2055dn.

  11. Sparkus Bronze badge

    Next stop

    remote driver support for the printers in question. End of Life.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Greasy. Double greasy.

    Kind of greasy to offer a free service for the life of the printer, then rescind it. But, I do see companies offer a free service, realize it's going to cost them, then rescind it all the time; and in this case, it is costing real money when they have to send out ink (as opposed to some free services where the cost is the 0 incremental cost of running some services on a server that's already there.)

    But auto-enrolling in a pay plan? GREEEAASY. I think at least in the state I live in, this is also illegal.

  13. DougMac

    'For life of printer'

    So, the plan will all go away in about 8-12 more months, given the average track record of how long an inkjet printer lasts until it mysteriously breaks itself.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: 'For life of printer'

      I once had the paper chute of a 10 year old printer literally fall apart in my hand. The plastic had gone brittle.

  14. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Estimated printing needs

    A friend (no, really) was the IT guy at our employer (early 1970s), and finally got permission to upgrade "the" printer from an impact dot-matrix (DecWriter) to a snazzy VersaTec electrostatic printer/plotter ( much like this:

    https://www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/X163.83A

    but without being cut away ) that would print and plot at dizzying speeds.

    When he submitted the initial order for supplies, the bean-counters balked, since "we only print X pages a month". His explanation that when it doesn't take hours to print a document (and the labor charges to keep updating paper documents with Sharpies are on another department's books), people print more often. Not gonna happen. Until he had to go back to explain the charge for expedited shipping on the supplies re-order.

  15. tweell
    Thumb Up

    Not eager to get a HP printer

    I'm keeping my Samsung all-in-one laser, thanks. It takes generic cartridges and likes them.

    1. upsidedowncreature

      Re: Not eager to get a HP printer

      You'll never guess who bought Samsung's printer division a whle back...

      edit: Wow, in 2017, I hadn't realised it was that long ago.

      1. Schultz

        Re: Not eager to get a HP printer

        Still takes the generic replacement toner, though.

  16. Steve Todd

    How many pages does a HP cartridge last these days?

    At 15 pages per month or less that should be a couple of years at least between replacements. Maybe 1 free set of cartridges in the lifetime of the printer.

  17. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Alternatives?

    I've never come across the idea of renting ink before. Curious.

    My Brother laser has a much more sophisticated system. It came with some toner cartridges. I bought a set of replacement ones from Amazon. When a cartridge ran out I replaced it, and ordered another. Toner for ever!

    1. gormful

      Re: Alternatives?

      I *love* my Brother laser printer. It prints great, toner cartridges are cheap, and there's none of this "subscription" nonsense. And my Brother sheet-feed scanner also Just Works.

      Hmmm... I wonder if HP will come up with a way to charge a per-page subscription fee for scanning? I wouldn't put it past them.

      1. gskr

        Re: Alternatives?

        Yea - Colour laser printers that take cheap generic toner - win win win.

        Brother are one of the few laser printer brands left that still accept cheap generic toner cartridges

        I've got a Dell C1760NW - which has served our household well for the last 4 or 5 years, and still going strong (although Dell no longer make printers). Nice and compact too (for a colour laser) Running costs are minuscule - I can get a full set of compatible toner cartridges for about £15 from amazon.

        Still if you only ever print a few pages a month getting that for free for the lifetime of the printer is pretty sweet too I guess - although a cheap HP inkjet's lifetime is unlikely to be more than a couple of years based on my previous experience with cheap inkjets (never again)

        1. DougMac

          Re: Alternatives?

          Dell didn't make printers. They whiteboxed Lexmark and in your case, Xerox printers.

          Just like Dell doesn't make Network switches. They just go with whatever Chinese OEM gave them the deal that week.

  18. jonfr

    Never buying HP printer

    This makes that clear that I am never going to buy a HP printer. This is just blackmail the buyer of the hardware to their subscription service. This needs to be made illegal.

    1. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

      Re: Never buying HP printer

      You can get a solid HP printer without giving HP any money. There's an active market in used/reconditioned HP printers. I got an HP2055dn a few months ago for $127. That's a monochrome workgroup grade laser printer that goes--new--for about $650. Runs great on after market toner.

  19. hairydog

    So HP started by deciding to breach the contract that the printers were originally sold under. That was never going to end well.

    Now they've backtracked, they've shot themselves in the foot a second time: nobody will switch to a paid-for tariff because they wouldn't be able to move back.

    I guess their marketing department has been taken over by a competitor.

    And for some of the others commenters here, no it does not print advertisments. and yes, fifteen pages a month is very useful.

    Cleaning the heads isn't going to to change:the heads are part of the cartridge, changed for free when the ink runs down.

    I've been using one of these printers for a few years. It is mostly used when I'm away in my motorhome, or for when I want a quick one-page document printed.

    Ivee never needed toa print as many as fifteen pages in one month: the problem is remembering to print something at least once a month to keep it clear. If it have a big print run I use the big laser printer.

  20. silks

    HP LaserJet

    For longevity the older HP LaserJets were legendary.

    I remember working in my early IT days and even in a busy office the only faults seem to be when a used put rubbish quality paper and caused jams. Maybe the longevity is related to them having print engines made by Canon.

    My own colour LaserJet must be around 15 years old now, only annoyance is when it decides to do it's automatic & noisy cleaning cycle at 2am!

    Toner cartridges are expensive but last for thousands of pages and don't dry out like inkjet so cost effective in the long run.

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