back to article Instant Ump: HP Inc's subscription ink services hiking prices from next month

HP is hiking the UK price of Instant Ink monthly plans by more than 50 per cent in some cases, although the company website is still showing the cost of the soon-to-be out-of-date bands. The subscription service was launched in the UK in 2014, and "eliminates ink anxiety" according to the US vendor, with a small cartridge in …

  1. Steve Foster
    FAIL

    "Cost for other plans is unchanged"

    That's not the case for the "Light" plan, which is reduced to 10ppm from 15ppm. Sure, the monetary amount HPI are collecting remains the same, but the price per page is up by 50%.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please raise your hands

    all of you who didn't see it coming.

  3. redpawn Silver badge

    15ppm

    15 pages per minute free for life sounds quite generous.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ink?

    I really can’t understand why anyone would bother with Ink. I run a Brother laser jet printer that cost me less than $150 and that prints 3,000 sheets before I need a new cartridge, which costs me $39. Ok, it’s black only but I’ve got enough Color in my life to compensate for that.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Ink?

      The reason I went with it is I print so rarely ink cartridges were drying out long before they ran out of ink. To actually use a 3000 page cartridge would probably take me 30 years.

      So paying 99 cents a month means I could have bought one cartridge every 40 months, but they will dry out before that (seems to take about two years for that to happen) meaning I'd actually have to pay twice as much buying cartridges.

      Granted, I liked it a lot better when the minimum plan was free until a couple years ago, but I knew that would never last given how many people are like me and hardly ever print anything.

      I actually use the scanning function of my printer more often than I use it to print anything..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ink?

        And I bet it won't scan unless there's an ink cartridge installed, right?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Ink?

          Just tried it for the heck of it, works fine.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: Just tried it for the heck of it, works fin

            until the next behind the scenes software update that is.

            HP continues to sink to new lows. Keep this up HP and you won't have many non-corporate customers left. Oh, wait... Isn't that the plan after all?

      2. Rich 2

        Re: Ink?

        But laser toner doesn’t dry up. It lasts forever (*)

        (*) ok probably not forever. But I’ve never had an issue with it and had toner cartridges for years and they’re still fine

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Ink?

          Yeah but while I don't need to print often when I do it is sometimes in color so a B&W only laser wouldn't work for me, and color laser multifunction printers are much more expensive than the $40 I paid for my color inkjet multifunction, even if you tack on $12/year for the (hopefully) decade or so it lasts.

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Ink?

      In my case, because it's free (I got the Instant Ink free plan before they cancelled it).

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Ink?

        Mine was originally free but then they sent notice they were going to start charging 99 cents. Maybe there was some sort of cutoff where they changed the language at signup that didn't allow them to do that to you? At any rate, $12/year is still cheap. If they raised it to $2.99 or something I'd probably look at alternatives, but I got a couple years of freebies so my average cost is still pretty low!

        1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          Re: Ink?

          Yup I got the same mail, but for some reason they never started charging. I'm not based in the UK though so maybe there are different country laws applicable

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Ink?

      Shoot, I got a Brother Color Laser and it wasn't much more, and I'm still on the original cartridges 2 years later.

      I also have a Brother black & white laser, but it got hit by lightning and the USB died, so it's limping along on a parallel port cable.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: Ink?

        "...but it got hit by lightning..." I suspect that isn't a standard use-case!

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Ink?

        It is much easier to buy an inkjet than a laser, they are usually smaller as well.

        Also (I don't know about the laser printers people have commented on) but the colour printer/scanner/copier function is what most people want.

        They are cheap to buy (we all know why) and so are the default option. Laser is considered business and for a colour laser printer, hugely more expensive, particularly if you want the scanner/copier.

        To be honest I think we use the scanner and copier more than the printer now.

        1. Rich 2

          Re: Ink?

          Why is an inkjet “easier” to buy than a laser?

          And you can get cheap small laser printers that include scanners - Brother and Canon come to mind.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Ink?

            >Why is an inkjet “easier” to buy than a laser?

            Suggest visiting your high street... remember places like PC World also benefit from the more frequent ink cartridge purchases inkjets require.

            Not saying you can't buy cheap laser printers - even HP make them...

            1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

              Re: Ink?

              Buying online is easier than on a b ick and mortar.. at least to most people. And the printer gets delivered!

              I got a laser printer with scanner quite cheap, BW.

          2. hoola Silver badge

            Re: Ink?

            You can but the the price on the label puts people off.

            When there are ink jet printers for under £50 lined up on a shelf and one or two lasers at £250 which one will the average user (not the people reading El Reg) reach for?

            Price wins every time. Laser printers are not considered as home use for the average person who will have signed up for Instant Ink. The lower cost of the printer and ink subscription is all about convenience and will win every time.

    4. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: Ink?

      Up front cost is the only reason, really, for inkjet over a laser. Lasers are also much happier being left for months at a time; with some inkjets basically being scrap if used only occassionally.

      Even this isn't that bad now, what with very good colour lasers being available sub £500. Space can be a consideration I suppose; fully portable inkjets are a thing, and have been since the mid 90s. The smallest A4 laser printer is still a hefty lump by comparison.

      Times when I want stuff printed now though, either consist of me wanting a professional booklet printing (so forget home printers) or making things for boardgames. When Star Fleet Battles started offering colour PDFs of ship SSD's I was completely sold. Printed-and-laminated those things are way nicer than throwaway paper copies.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Ink?

        >Even this isn't that bad now, what with very good colour lasers being available sub £500.

        Need to be sub £100 and probably more like circa £60 to divert joe public away from those cheap inkjets...

        1. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: Ink?

          Maybe charging for the inevitable landfill cost associated with inkjets would be a way forward.

          Charging for waste, more generally, would be the single most potent way to get consumers to demand alternatives to, well, consumption!

  5. Mishak Silver badge

    Do you have to use HP ink?

    I've not looked into how the printers work, but someone needs to start a group action to require HP to allow the use of other inks if this is the case...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Do you have to use HP ink?

      You can buy other ink cartidges, as normal. I didn't have many problems with fake HP ink - back when I bought cartridges regularly. But to be fair to HP (gags!) Instant Ink is a bloody good deal. And is so even at this new price. I used to buy 3 sets of cartridges a year, where even the fake ones were about £10 each. So that's £90 a year. We're a low-medium use office, so we're on an inkjet, because we want a little more image quality that we got when we had a laser. Now we've been paying £30-£40 a year for all the ink we need, and getting genuine cartridges without having to think about it too much. What's not to like?

      I've been expecting them to put the prices up for some time, given we've been on it for 3-4 years and this is the first time they have. I guess the upside for them is regular direct debits and no danger we'll buy fakes.

      Also they screwed up when I signed up. We got loads of credits, that were only supposed to last for 3 months. The idea being that you didn't need to worry if you'd gone for too few pages per month, you had near infinite extra credits. But they forgot to time-limit the credits, so I had 20 months of free ink.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Do you have to use HP ink?

        Are you printing (color) pictures that often that you need an inkjet? Because in my experience that's the only think inkjets are slightly better at. I prefer the crispness of a (color) laser for text and graphs over inkjet personally.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Do you have to use HP ink?

        Also the Instant Ink cartridges appear to have much more ink in than the ones you buy.

        I had one cartridge that went peculiar shortly after I fitted it so did not have a replacement and a quick WebChat resulted in a new cartridge sent out next day. No issues or anything.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Do you have to use HP ink?

          If you read the small print on Instant Ink it specifically says the cartridges are bigger. Which of course makes sense given that they're paying the postage.

          Of course they also control that cartridge. If you stop paying, your printer stops working, until you put in cartridges that you've bought yourself.

          But for all the criticism I've seen on this thread, I think people are being totally unfair. Instant Ink is cheap, and also has decent customer service, the one time I've had to use it. Admittedly it only exists because customers were so obviously pissed off with the massive rip-off that was buying HP ink, and they're clearly to blame for that.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Do you have to use HP ink?

          >Also the Instant Ink cartridges appear to have much more ink in than the ones you buy.

          Well given the logistics and the cutting out of the retail costs (typically 30% of the final price) it would make sense for them to standardise on one cartridge size and given ink is really cheap the cost difference between 'standard' and XL cartridges is probably sub 1p.

          Reminds me of an article I read about BMW's, the factory fitted Pirelli's were better quality than the after market ones. Hence the after market tryes didn't last as long, to get tyres of an equivalent standard owners had to replace not like-for-like but with a more expensive Pirelli tyre.

  6. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

    Ability?

    I'm probably showing my age here but wasn't it Ability Plus (as bundled with Amstrads) which used "Ink, Inc" as the case study in the user manual?

    1. Ian Mason

      Re: Ability?

      A friend at university was a comic book and commercial artist on the side. Because of his *ahem* flexible attitude to deadlines he styled his work as having been penned by "Last Minute Inc.".

  7. steamnut

    Classic stratrgy

    Surely this has been their plan all along?

    It's a classic bait and switch operation.

  8. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    The subscription service [...] "eliminates ink anxiety"

    ...and replaces it with financial anxiety.

  9. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    A cheap fix...

    A cheap fix for the need for ink is to buy an octopus, stuff it in the ink cart holder, & attach the power leads to it's nipples. You send a print job to the printer, the printer sends a jolt to the octopus, & the little squirmy bugger squirts ink all over the paper.

    If you do very little printing then you only need a small octopus, a medium sized one for medium amounts of printing, and a large one for lots of printing; the commercial printing places tend to buy a salt water aquarium & breed their own ink supplies.

    I've tried to use squids instead of octopi, but they kept getting their longest tentacles caught in the paper feed rollers.

    Once the current octopus runs out of ink, you can hand it off to the cafeteria for adding to the soup!

    =-D

    (Giant, neon, blinking, scrolling sarcasm tag.)

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: A cheap fix...

      Too late

      HP manglement have just seen your idea and patented it.

      And bought up the world's entire supply of octopii

      1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

        Re: A cheap fix...

        There's prior art. The Scotts used an octopus, held like a set of bagpipes, to shower themselves in ink to draw on all that frightening stuff that made some folks so afraid. Once the octopi was out of ink, the Scott could then use it as a weapon or as food, often both, and sometimes even in that specific order. =-)p

      2. spireite Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A cheap fix...

        Yeah, bet it's a pricey solution....

        Wouldn't be surprised if a subscription Octopus solution in the UKcosts at least a 100 squid a month

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: A cheap fix...

      A great idea, it means the only suckers in the deal are on the octopus.

      Ah, just one thing..... How do I find the nipples on an octopus?

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A cheap fix...

        Have a look and sea...

      2. ShadowSystems Silver badge

        Re: A cheap fix...

        Upon reading the line "How do I find the nipples on an octopus?", I feel as if I may have just won the internet. XD Hahahahahahahahaha...

    3. Roland6 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: A cheap fix...

      > & attach the power leads to it's nipples.

      But for that you really should be using Octopus energy

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For all you Futurama fans out there....

    Probably why Professor Farnsworth keeps Zoidberg around. HP Ink in the 31st Century probably costs the same as a small continent.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Eliminate ink anxiety

    I already have, thank you.

    First of all, I don't have an HP printer, and second, I have a laser printer, so toner, not ink.

    Curiously, toner makers haven't gone all Big Brother and required a chip to validate that your cartridge is kosher - yet.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: "toner makers haven't gone all Big Brother and required a chip..."

      HP does

      1. X5-332960073452
        Megaphone

        Re: "toner makers haven't gone all Big Brother and required a chip..."

        Yep, one of my customers needs HP 59X toner, HP costs £175 each, compatible £47.

        The first printer 'died' (actually they broke it) in 18 months, had used 15 toner in that time, saving £1920.

        The replacement printer cost £350 - quids in!!

  12. Whomesir?

    Decent deal

    I find the convenience of having ink shipped to me before I run out at a modest charge worth it.

    I used to have access to office printing until a change of job and so this is ideal for me, no more dried out cartridges from any manufacturer.

    It also makes me popular with my daughter as she can print what she wants, when she wants.

    I get why some people consider it stupid but it’s like any subscription service, nobody forces you to use it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No paperless society?

    I rarely if ever use a printer unless its printing a label or backup travel documents.

  14. Schultz
    Happy

    "Print ink continues to be in short supply"

    Fortunately my strategic toner reserve will last another year.

  15. Llanelliguy

    Typical response from corporate, absolute rubbish

    That is a typical corporate response, in other words absolute rubbish!

    Where in the market has there been a 50% increase in anything that the printers use? If this was an inflation rate rise this should be less than 6% but it's not, it's 50% for me and others and it's unfair.

    If they believe that response answers our questions well they are wrong, it typical corporate greed.

    It's always the poorest in our Communities that gets hit the hardest, no other plan / subscription on Instant Ink has had the 50% increase? It may only be £1 but it's the principal. Be fair, if one plan has the 50% increase they all should have the same.

    This does not end here.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical HP

    What a typically useless comment from HP.

    They may have well said "the sun will rise in the morning".

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