back to article Epson payments snafu leaves subscribers unable to print

Epson's ReadyPrint subscription-based printing service is designed to take the hassle out of printing but its not working as intended, at least not for everyone. The service was created to let users print as much as they like without worrying about running out of ink. For a small monthly fee, the firm will send customers …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Is that theft?

    "his cartridges would stop working following two unsuccessful attempts by Epson to obtain payment for the subscription service"

    So the ones he's already paid for will stop working?

    Sounds like a fantastic service (in the literal sense of the word 'fantastic' - 'existing only in imagination, unreal' [OED]).

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Is that theft?

      Theft?

      ... despite receiving fresh ink cartridges from the company, he is still unable to print anything ...

      Much worse than that.

      This chap's ability to use the printer he paid for is being blocked by the company he purchased it from because ... Whatever.

      Or was it a gift from Epson albeit under certain condiitons?

      No, it is not theft.

      On one side it is the chap's stupidity lack of basic common sense.

      And on the other it is Epson's predatory practises: scam, swindle, collusion, etc.

      Just what was this chap thinking?

      O.

    2. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: Is that theft?

      Ah, but he hasn't "already paid" for them, he just rented them and has neglected to pay the monthly ransom subscription.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Is that theft?

        'he hasn't "already paid" for them'

        But presumably he had paid for the printer than is no longer operative despite the cartridge not being empty. My guess is that the "stop printing" instruction would have to be to the printer, not to the cartridge, so he's been deprived of use for the thing he paid for. That does look a bit like theft.

        It would be quite another matter (and perfectly legitimate) if, once the cartridges in hand ran out they stopped supplying more until he settled the account, but terminating the service as described seems, shall we say, rather less legitimate.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Is that theft?

          > he's been deprived of use for the thing he paid for

          That's the pleasures of cool, hassle-free subscription services... You only have the right to pay, but actually using the thing you paid for is subject to so many caveats and provisos that it's definitely not guaranteed to happen when you want or need it.

          But well, as P.T. Barnum is supposed to have said, "there is a subscriber born every minute".

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Is that theft?

          It is the cartridge that is remotely bricked (through the printer firmware). He can switch the bricked cartridges out for normal, non-rental, cartridges or new rental ones, once the payment has been sorted out.

          That said, I wouldn't want to put myself in that situation in the first place.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Is that theft?

            "It is the cartridge that is remotely bricked"

            And there lies the problem. If they know there is an issue, they should be working with the customer to resolve it, not sticking their fingers in their ears and then bricking the cartridge.

            It may not be Epson's fault, but it sure as hell isn't the customer's fault either.

            1. emfiliane

              Re: Is that theft?

              If their payment processor hasn't done anything about it since the start of the year, and we're now 3 months in, then it damned well is Epson's fault for not finding a new one.

          2. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Is that theft?

            So it is the printer that has been bricked, otherwise the solution would be to simply switch out the subscription cartridge for a normal retail cartridge and printer is good to go.

            1. Sherrie Ludwig

              Re: Is that theft?

              So it is the printer that has been bricked, otherwise the solution would be to simply switch out the subscription cartridge for a normal retail cartridge and printer is good to go.

              Well, the solution is simple. Switch out the printer for one from a company that doesn't play these games, buy a case or two of ink that doesn't phone home for permission, and tell Epson to **** themselves. Epson has just taught everyone who NOT to do business with.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Is that theft?

        "Ah, but he hasn't "already paid" for them, he just rented them and has neglected to pay the monthly ransom subscription."

        It's not rent on the printer, it's a service that monitors your ink levels and usage and sends you new cartridges and bills you automatically so you don't run out and don't need to stock a bunch of back up ink that could go stale.

        The printer should continue to operate until the currently installed cartridges are empty. You should also have the option of buying more ink locally should you need more in a hurry.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I was waiting for the final paragraph to say:

      "Epson, at time of publication, in response, said it hadn't received any formal customer complaints in writing, regarding the issue, to its head office".

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Is that theft?

      Not quite.

      You pay a monthly fee to print, and when a cartridge is empty, a replacement is sent. You are paying for the ability to print that month not for the cartridge. A cartridge will often last a few months, but you only pay a fraction of the value of the cartridge each month (probably based on projected printing volume).

      If you stop paying, you haven't paid for what remains in the cartridge, so it isn't a cartridge or ink you have already paid for. Therefore the cartridge is bricked.

      My HP has a similar scheme, but my printing is sporadic, one month I might print hardly anything, another month a lot, so I didn't bother, I just by cartridges as I need them.

      Given this is Epson's snafu, at least in the communication department, this must be hurting them financially, as they will be sending out normal cartridges or replacement cartridges for all of those they have "wrongfully" bricked.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Is that theft?

        Yep you've described it perfectly.

        I use HP's version of this, and it works great for me. Previously I bought cartridges but I print so little that after a year or two they'd stop printing well due to the ink drying out. So I'd lose 90% of the ink I paid for and be unable to print when I need to.

        Now that I'm on the lowest tier monthly plan (15 pages for 99 cents IIRC...used to be 10 pages for free but I knew that wouldn't last forever) I pay less per year. I can get extra pages if I need to print more, of course, though if somehow I suddenly needed to print hundreds of pages I'd make other arrangements.

        I haven't had the ink dry out since I went to this scheme (but it is a new printer and uses different cartridges) I'm not sure if the ink is formulated differently expecting people on this plan don't print too often or I've just been lucky. If it happens I can swap in the new unopened cartridges I have already been sent.

        1. Adelio Silver badge

          Re: Is that theft?

          But the other issue with many manufactures is where the cartridge goes "out of date"

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Is that theft?

            Not familiar with this, but it sounds like an attempt to keep people from using cartridges so old they've dried out and won't work reliably.

            1. Mungo Bung

              Re: Is that theft?

              I'm intimately familiar with out-of-date cartridges with built in print heads. 20-odd years ago, in a desktop support role, I rescued a number of HP and Canon and Apple-branded HP and Canon inkjets that were destined for landfill because their users had just got shiny new affordable laser printers. I also picked up half a filing cabinet full of expired and near-expired cartridges.

              Drying out doesn't seem to be the only problem. Three to five years after the expiration date the flexible circuits leading to the head started to de-laminate on still sealed cartridges. My guess would be that the use-by date was in part related to how soon HP and Canon expected their cartridges to self-destruct, with a reasonable safety margin.

              I'm less familiar with out-of-date cartridges of the box-of-ink variety. I would hope they'd be stable, but who knows what kind of chemical decomposition might occur over many years in the witches brew of pigments, dyes, and solvents that we call printer ink.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the moral of the story is...

    Don't buy an Epson printer / subscription service.

    1. Dr Paul Taylor

      Re: So the moral of the story is...

      No, the moral is, don't buy anything that is called "smart".

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So the moral of the story is...

        Or a subscription service in general.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: So the moral of the story is...

          Well thats most peoples stuffed since most software like Autocad and Adobe these days is subscription only.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: So the moral of the story is...

            And it's pretty clear Windows is heading that way too.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: So the moral of the story is...

            I wasn't all that happy when Adobe went to subscription, but they've been good about it. I'm paying less now than I was for boxed software and getting updates more frequently. I expect that they have more paying customers for this and more consistent income. If they had started jacking the rates and making the software up and stop if it couldn't phone home, I would hold a different position. I've never pushed it, but I've gone up to a week with Lightroom whinging that it wants to call its mum. I was out in the sticks at the time with no internet, but wanting to process lots of photos. It was fine. The yearly price for Photoshop and Lightroom is very reasonable.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: So the moral of the story is...

      "Don't buy an Epson printer"

      Funny this article turns up today. I got an Epson XP-345 back in 2017. Never used it as I subsequently got a cheap HP and their Instant Ink programme.

      I dug the Epson out, unboxed it, set it up. Noticed the print quality was pretty poor (banding, obvious dithering) like something from the late 90s. But, okay, it was cheap.

      Oh, but the scanner is faulty. Most of the page was okay, but there were a few lines of gibberish (noise?) across the page. Broken or faulty pixels? In a scanner that had never been used?

      The printer worked as expected for the setup and installation. I turned it on a couple of days later, and it worked, for a while. Then it died. Died in a way that meant that it was shorting out the power supply. I unclipped it. 42v with nothing attached. Connect the printer, nice spark as it makes contact, then 0v across the terminals.

      After about four hours of use.

      Clearly, as it was bought in 2017 and unboxed in 2022 there's no chance of any guarantee.

      So I took the thing apart to see what was inside (a paranoid number of ferrite rings!) and then.... let's just say a pickaxe [*] was involved. It was quite cathartic.

      So I'll clip your quote and simply say "don't buy an Epson".

      * - I did consider using the ride-on mower, but felt that I'd spend weeks picking up all the bits. Shame.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: So the moral of the story is...

        Well, worth repeating my story of a week or so ago, in summary.

        New Epson printer with second tray at rear so we can use two sizes of paper. Said tray big enough to take ~20 sheets. Actually only designed to hold and feed a single sheet. Taken back to Costco. Bought a Canon.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: So the moral of the story is...

      Or HP or ...

      My guess is that in less than 2 years you won't be able to buy a printer WITHOUT taking out an ink subscription.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So the moral of the story is...

      Don’t buy inkjet printers, they’re just a drain on your wallet.

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Just use freeflowing documentation.

    HTML is a mere 42 years old and works well for pretty much most documentation and if you dont make it paper shaped then you can read it on most devices and dont need to set yourself up as a hostage.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Just use freeflowing documentation.

      My wife runs patchwork classes. Her handouts include templates for marking out fabric. Pray tell how free-flowing documentation using HTML gets transferred to the fabric without printing.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Just use freeflowing documentation.

        Draw around it on the screen with a wax crayon, press the fabric to the screen then apply a hot iron. Simples :-D

    2. Dave K

      Re: Just use freeflowing documentation.

      Who says he was just printing out documentation? There are plenty of examples of where you still need to print things these days. I try and avoid it where I can (it's a hassle firing up a printer unless I really have to), but some times it is unavoidable.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Just use freeflowing documentation.

        How about a return label for defective Epson goods!??

        Thank you! Thank you! I'm here all week!

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: Just use freeflowing documentation.

          And how would you print out that return label?

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Just use freeflowing documentation.

            On an HP printer :-)

  4. Flywheel
    Thumb Down

    The problem is easily solved

    .. by taking your Epson printer to the local electrical waste recycling centre, throwing it into the skip, then stopping off at Currys to by a decent printer.

    1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: The problem is easily solved

      Good luck finding one. Anyone know of a decent DRM-free photo printer?

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: The problem is easily solved

        You could try going to the local electrical waste recycling centre and looking for a really dusty printer. Mine is ancient and as it uses an open source driver it has never received Epsom firmware downgrades. A decade's supply of third party ink recently set me back about £20.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: The problem is easily solved

          What printer is this?

          Come on, help your friendly internet freetards out!!!

          1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

            Re: The problem is easily solved

            Epsom stylus P50. Really, you are looking for anything that understands a documented system for communicating with printers (such as PCL) so that there will be an open source driver. I think you also need one that has not been connected to Windows for years. I believe the official drivers downgrade the firmware to reject third party ink but I do not have the nerve to test this. Try a web search for Linux printer support.

            You can find a list of printers here. One of the fun thing about The Linux Documentation Project is that the articles can be hopelessly dated. That one is from 2003 - which in this case might actually be a useful feature.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: The problem is easily solved

              Have a pint for your trouble.

              You can even print it!

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The problem is easily solved

        >Anyone know of a decent DRM-free photo printer?

        Yes, however, you probably won't find it in Currys or elsewhere on the high street...

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          Re: The problem is easily solved

          Try second hand websites, Wallapop has 'em

  5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    I came here to laugh at a very different story. The headline made me imagine a transient error in a cloud-based printing service and some pompous, irate people unable to print for few hours or a couple of days.

    But this is pretty fucked up. Epson are cutting people off because their backend looks more like a scam than a legitimate service, and they refuse to put in place mitigation until asked (presumably they know everybody who banks with RBS?), and won't fix the issue or even warn people.

    Shit happens. But that doesn't mean you have to behave like a shit when it does.

  6. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    Obvious question

    How are all the other subscription services coping with the new rules if Epson can't?

    We'd have heard much more screaming if Amazon/Netflix/Disney+ etc. cut people off because the banks wouldn't pay up.

    1. msknight

      Re: Obvious question

      In this case, it's probably because Epson haven't got the financial reputation of Disney/Netflix/et al. And after incidents like this, their reputation is likely to sink ever lower! (joke)

  7. The Dogs Meevonks

    HP Are no better

    The HP Instant Ink service is also a clusterfuck, not because of the same payment issues but because they will lock out printers from even being used.

    A couple of years ago, I replaced my knackered Epson printer with a HP and it came with 3 months free instant ink service... So I used it, but never agreed to a continued subscription service.

    HP locked the printer, and as I was given another by work... I packed it away and forgot about it.

    Then a couple of months ago, my mums printer broke... she's also on the HP instant ink service (1.99 a month) as it works out cheaper over the year for her needs.

    I gave her my printer and tried to connect it to her account... first it refused to do anything, even with stock cartridges installed (although printing blank sheets as I suspect old carts had dried up after 12 months in storage)... did a factory reset which at least unlocked it. Then it refused to allow it to be connected to her Instant Ink service as a replacement for the old printer, first saying it was connected to another account (it wasn't) and then asking if you wanted it removed from other account (Yes)... and then still refusing to allow it to be connected.

    I wasn't about to go and spend £40-50 on new ink... just to test if the printer would actually work...

    The solution... cancel the HP subscription and buy another Epson printer for the same cost as new Ink for the HP... but it comes with enough ink to print the contracts and docs we needed to for selling a house.

    I was going to sign her up for the epson ready print... but I use Natwest... My mum on the other hand is with Lloyd's, so I'll do it via her bank instead.

    But fuck HP... every single time I've had to suffer with a HP printer it's been a shit show... crappy quality prints and they break if you sneeze to hard next to one. At leastall of the Epson printers I've owned over the last 20yrs have been reliable and only broken due to my own negligence or because of a time when I had about 10 power cuts/surges in a couple of hrs that fried a few electronics... inc an Epson RX700 printer, a Sony 5.1 Home Cinema amp and a bedside alarm clock.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: HP Are no better

      Ok I gotta ask, but why would you even bother getting the subscription service? A printer gives you plenty of warning when you're running low on ink, just order a new cartridge when it tells you to. Plenty of online retailers will deliver the new cartridge to your door, assuming it's not available at your local supermarket/computer shop.

      You've just read how Epson happily screws over a whole bunch of their customers (anyone with RBS or NatWest) without really attempting to fix the problem, bricking their machines in the process, and you would still willing sign up to be held hostage for the next time they screw something up and decide to brick your machine?

      Sorry, but I dont understand the rationale...

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: HP Are no better

        Because, at least for HP, the cost per-page of Instant-ink is much, much less than buying an HP cartridge from, say, Tescos.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: HP Are no better

          If you print as rarely as I do, can I suggest you consider a B&W laser? I have a Brother L2720, the ink lasts forever. Color isn't missed.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: HP Are no better

            I do have,as it happens a Brother HL-1110 laser. That gets used for routine stuff that doesn't need colour.( returns labels and the like). It's old, basic (USB) and uses compatible toner without any complaints. And it just goes on and on There are a lot of times when we do need colour, - being as we're in educational and youth work. And we do need the scanner on our Canon multifunction machine. It probably gets used more than the printer.If not for that I reckon the old Brother machine would be all we'd need.(And maybe a stand-alone scanner).

            1. teknopaul Silver badge

              Re: HP Are no better

              +1 other little Brother láser printers. I got one many years ago and I have not changed the toner once.

              I don't miss full colour adverts on my boarding passes.

              They do a colour version for 300€, but I haven't tried it.

              They provide drivers for Linux.

      2. oiseau Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: HP Are no better

        ... why would you even bother getting the subscription service?

        ... printer gives you plenty of warning when you're running low ...

        Why?

        Because somehow you have, for some strange reason, got it into your head that you're actually smarter than those who make a living from scamming/fleecing their customers.

        ie: the hideous marketing drones who spend a great deal of their time and their company's money to figure out all the possible angles to screw you over. If possible, twice like in the article's case.

        They designed this system, not to provide a better and more convenient service to their customers but to provide a constant and stable flow of income for their shareholders while at the same time preying on the credulity of their customer base.

        To think that it is something else, as I subtly attempted to point out previously, is a very clear sign of stupidity.

        Sorry, but I dont understand the rationale ...

        That's because you are not stupid. 8^D !

        If you must know, yes, I had an absolutely terrible week-end.

        So shoot me.

        O.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: HP Are no better

          Or those that can't afford a lump sum, but can afford the 1.99 a month sub. Saving that 1.99 a month might be a better solution, but many can't manage that, if they didn't pay the 1.99 a month sub, they would spend it elsewhere and not save up for a new cartridge, when it would be required...

          It is like paying car insurance with a one-off lump sum or spreading the cost quarterly or monthly. If you don't have the lump sum, you sometimes have to make the bargain with the devil.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: HP Are no better

            This. The HP subs are less than Netflix. Works out to be about a euro a week.

            Plus they count pages. A bit crap if you're trying to get something working and it spits a bunch of blank pages (yes, those are counted), but on the other hand it's useful that they don't distinguish between a colour print to regular paper, and an A4 size photo quality print.

            It's nice to just print whatever I want, when I want, without stopping to think "how much is this going to cost". Replacement cartridges are not cheap, and a dozen full page colour prints can empty them. With Instant Ink, that's 12 pages, 88 left to go this month.

            I know how much I used to spend on ink, I know how much I now spend. There may be other options (ink tanks and such) but for my needs, the subscription service is sufficient and affordable.

            I also have a little laser for when I want to run off copies of datasheets and such.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Re: HP Are no better

        Spreading the costs, for a lot of people. If you need to replace the cartridge at a time when the bank account is a little low on funds, you can't print. If you have a small monthly payment going out, it is in your monthly overheads and a new cartridge "magically" turns up when you need it.

        I have an HP that can use this service, but my printing isn't regular enough for it to make sense, so I went with XL cartridges instead.

        (And Epson didn't brick the printer in this case, according to the story, they bricked the cartridges. But that still doesn't excuse their communications incompetence.)

      4. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: HP Are no better

        Convenience.

        It's as simple as that, the app orders new ink for you when the ink runs low. It's pushed hard and is an easy sell because they aren't upfront about their habit of locking out printers *and* the cost is lower than just buying cartridges (from HP/Epson direct at least)

        I've had to spend a lot of time explaining why it's a bad idea.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Its kinda your fault

      When you agree to use Instant Ink it clearly states that you will need to buy new cartridges to stop using it with Instant Ink.

      If you just printed normally with it instead of taking advantage of the three months free you would be fine. The printers are Instant Ink capable, they do not require it. But the cartridges they send you will ONLY work for Instant Ink. You can still buy regular cartridges and go back to using it without the Instant Ink service.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: HP Are no better

      Unless you have an HP from 15+ year ago I'm wishing I had grabbed the last of the LJ4700's my previous employer was dumping, I know it's a beast, but I know they work with out this frippery...

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: HP Are no better

        You really should have.

        Toner cartridges (originals) for the 4700 colour laser are not cheap, but they do last forever. I maxed out memory on mine. Sourced maintenance manual for it. I think it'll probably last till I'm dead and buried. Same for my old LaserJet 4M and 5M printers that are still going on with the occasional feed issue to sort out. All are equallky happy with PCL or PostScript.

  8. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Strong Customer Authentication"

    "Strong" Customer Authentication typically seems to involve being sent an SMS authentication token to verify the transaction. This, despite the well known insecurity of SMS, and indeed recent advice from EUROPOL not to use it for sensitive transactions.

    What's worse, many businesses are still unaware of the requirement or are still unable to support it, and the banks I've dealt with are extremely unhelpful - to the extent that one of my banks would not tell me what the required process was until I complained directly to the Chairman of the bank. The response from the complaints deflection department to my letter to the Chairman explained the process but rejected my complaint merely stating "you'll have to find another way to pay the supplier", So much for the service of storing my money.

    Given the commonly inept and insecure implementation, I firmly believe SCA is really about liability transfer, not security.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

      Depends. Most bank apps integrate the 2FA check, usually involving the smatphone biometric identification too. SMS despite its shortcomings is still useful when the other system doesn't work, or for people without a smartphone. My bank used to give customers a physical OTP token - but it looks it's now frowned upon because the OTP can't be linked to a specific transaction. while the SMS data can.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

        It's frowned upon because SMS is cheaper for the bank, nothing more.

        And of course SCA fails miserably with regular payments. Nobody is around at two in the morning to authenticate each regular payment when it happens, if banks were really implementing SCA properly instead of handwaving it away then everybody's regular payments would have failed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

          Sorry, but that's neither fair nor accurate.

          A portion of my job requires a certain level of familiarity with regulations like this - I am (my employer is) in the financial services sector and based in the EU. Strong Customer Authentication - SCA was introduced by all banks in the EU as a direct consequence of European law - the EU PSD2 (EU Payment Services Directive) which - among other requirements - mandates the use of Strong Customer Authentication to replace previously used technologies like sending lists of pre-generated TAN codes to customers every couple of weeks. SMS *might* be cheaper compared to sending so called "TAN letters" to customers, but to be honest, TAN letters were not very expensive either given that it was a mass mailing operation. The environmental benefits were probably significantly higher than the financial benefits of going paperless, plus the customer convenience gain if done properly. Granted, implementing PSD2 correctly is hard and expensive, but Financial Institutions and in general Financial Services Providers have implemented PSD2 quite well - at least in my jurisdiction.

          Here's another catch - the EU PSD2 directive is under the oversight of the EBA (European Banking Authority) and additionally the national financial regulatory authority of each individual country the bank is operating in and they each get to decide how secure the "secure" part of SCA needs to be for their jurisdiction - the EBA has provided a minimum via the so called PSD2 RTS (Regulatory Technical Standards). Do a web search for PSD2 RTS if you are interested.

          p.s. You wrote "Nobody is around at two in the morning to authenticate each regular payment when it happens". Well, true, -but nobody should be around at two in the morning - or at any time of the day to authenticate anything. It's all done by the machines nowadays ;)

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

            I was comparing the cost of SMS to the cost of getting a batch of physical card readers made and sent them out to customers. If a physical card reader is a "TAN letter" than that's an impressive piece of nomenclatural obfuscation, but it doesn't sound like it.

            Secondly, I was referring to the time of day that regular card payments are put through. If each regular payment is not subject to SCA then they are inherently less secure, however if it is subject to SCA then regular payments become impossible to use.

            The national financial regulatory authority of each country is a talking shop for the banks who will try to get away with as little as possible without disturbing the customers. If banks were really interested in online payment security then only online payments validated with a physical card reader would do, anything else is security theatre.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

              Recurring payments are authorized in a different way i.e. SEPA Direct Debit.

              SMS are cheaper? Sometimes. While some banks used electronic OTP devices which have a cost (but how much today?), others used pre-printed codes, which was even cheaper.

              Requiring a card reader is very uncomfortable for the customer - does one carry it around?

              Now banks want you to use apps because of tracking and product selling. It is true that when well coded they may be more secure - when well coded.

              Anyway, I have to repeat it here, the actual regulations require an authorization code that is tied to the actual transaction, and thereby can be used only for such transaction. If someone steals a code for a €100 transaction, it can't use it to create a different €10000 transaction and authorize it, even before fthe €100 one is authorized, because they would be different transactions.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

                Recurring payments are authorized in a different way i.e. SEPA Direct Debit.

                The Epson service uses recurring card payments and the recent SCA change in the UK is about card payments.

                Requiring a card reader is very uncomfortable for the customer - does one carry it around?

                If the customer wants to use an offline card reader because it's the most secure option, yep.

                Thr problem is banks are only offering apps or SMS as options.

                Anyway, I have to repeat it here, the actual regulations require an authorization code that is tied to the actual transaction, and thereby can be used only for such transaction.

                So? How do you think offline card readers work?

            2. katrinab Silver badge
              Windows

              Re: "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

              About 20 years ago when we sent our payment runs by fax, we got a sticker sheet of preprinted codes, and every time we wanted to do a payment run, we would put one of the stickers on the payment form. I’m guessing that’s what a TAN letter is?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "typically seems to involve being sent an SMS"

                Yes, I mean, well, it's not *exactly* the same physically, but conceptually. It worked so: the bank sent you a page full of preprinted TAN codes and you were required to authorize each transaction online by providing one of the TAN codes from the list. In later iterations, the code had to be used up in the same order as on the list, so if you skipped a code, that code was automatically invalidated. Shortly before you used up the last TAN code, the Bank sent you a fresh list of pre-generated codes via snail mail.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: "Strong Customer Authentication"

      My bank, Sparkasse, in Germany, uses a separate authentication device, I have to stick my card into it and it reads an "active" barcode - flickering bars on the screen that build up the transaction information - and then gets me to confirm the amount and a/c number it read from the screen and gives me one time code to type into the transaction form.

      A bit of a hassle, but more secure.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Epson's solution seems to be that X thousand people change their bank. A simpler solution would be that Epson change their bank.

  10. petef

    Computer says no

    The problem may not be due to Epson (discuss) but surely they could keep the accounts active pending the bank snafu being sorted out.

  11. Giles C Silver badge

    So from reading this, if you buy an epson printer and sing up to the subscription service then you cannot terminate the subscription and go back to buying cartridges as you need them.

    Be interesting to know where in the small print that is… anyone got the license agreement handy?

    1. original_rwg

      License agreement? Yeah I'll just print one off for you..... Oh wait :(

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: License agreement? Yeah I'll just print one off for you..... Oh wait :(

        What happens if you run out of your monthly allocation of ink? You will have to wait for the next batch to arrive, even if you pay for it when it warns you you're running short.

        This is like having to go to the post office to top up your gas or electric.

        At least if they put a man on Mars the queue at the Martian post office shouldn't be too long.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      There are three different variations of "ReadyPrint". One of them is ReadyPrint EcoTank where your subscription covers both the ink and the effective leasing of the printer for a fixed period. If you don't pay, you're treated as defaulting on your lease payment, so the printer gets turned off regardless of its ink status.

      If you buy the printer outright and simply subscribe to the ink it should be a different matter.

      There will be people, for whom these arrangements might make financial sense, rapidly reconsidering their options.

  12. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

    Mafia racket?

    The more I read this story, the more it seemed like an old fashioned Mafia protection racket from a gangster film.

    And then this bit "despite receiving fresh ink cartridges from the company, he is still unable to print anything until the payments issue is resolved." made me think of the scene where the Mafia goons say to the poor shopkeeper "sure, you can stay open as long as you like, but it would be a real shame if no customers could get to your front door"

  13. David Austin

    Every day that passes, I'm happier and happier with my decision in February to replace my 2002 HP PSC... with the exact same model I picked up on eBay second hand for 99p

    No smart anything

    No Subscription cartridges

    PCL Print Drivers

    Works with Windows Fax and Scan

    It just works verses "It Just Works!"

  14. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Subscription service

    I admit an extreme reluctance to sign up to any such scheme. Too many stories about being unable to exit from them for a start. Especially not a subscription involving a printer company- they not being exactly known for treating customers fairly. As in, one colour runs out you need to buy a whole new set of inks, for example. Not to even mention price gouging backed up by making cheap compatibles impossible(ish) to use.

    But also, in the case of ink, modern printers have bottle filled reservoirs, not tiddly little cartridges. If you're using enough ink for a subscription service you might as well buy a bottle filled printer.

  15. Plest Silver badge
    Gimp

    "This is not an issue Epson can fix."

    So sod it, we just brick your printer! ( *stick 2 fingers up at customers* ).

    I bet when the ReadyPrint scheme was first put into operation some fat cat Epson board member got a huge bonus that year. Should have bought them a leather outfit and a whip as they obviously enjoy bending customers over and threatening with violence for their own personal satisfaction and gain. Yes, before you say it subs consent along with their doms, well Epson's customers did sign up for ReadyPrint so more fool them 'cos I bet in the small print is said, "If you can't pay then we can cut you off bitch! Now, on your knees!".

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    master class in BOFHism, here !

    "please try with a card from another bank if possible. e.g. not RBS or Natwest,"

    Ah ah, made me laugh this one. LOL.

    Excuse me while I spend 3 months moving all my finances to another bank, just to see if I'll be able to continue printing. Back to you in 3 months, see ya !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: master class in BOFHism, here !

      "please try with a card from another bank if possible. e.g. not RBS or Natwest,"

      IT problems with RBS NatWest banking services? Gosh, that's certainly never happened before…? What have they borked now?

  17. g7rpo

    Had to stop my HP laser from getting to the internet

    I have a laserjet which was working fine unfil it downloaded a new firmware which made changes to the printer, including stopping 3rd party/re manufactured toner carts (this was despite turning updates off and not providing a default gateway in the gui)

    found a utility which allowed me to downgrade to the previous firmware and have blocked the printer from accessing the internet completely.

    When you buy hardware it should be yours to do what you wish, and disabling the choice of consumables shouldnt be allowed.

    Cannot for the life in me understand why people sign up for these subscription schemes, unless they arent aware of how nasty the printer companies are

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Had to stop my HP laser from getting to the internet

      "Cannot for the life in me understand why people sign up for these subscription schemes, unless they arent aware of how nasty the printer companies are"

      For the most part, the consumer buys a printer like they would do a fridge. They buy it and expect it to just "work". If the printer manufacturer advertises the benefits of paying per month compared to buying the cartridge when it runs out, the consumer will go for it as there is an illusion of a benefit to them by doing so. Say their kids are printing stuff for school, wouldn't it be great to get the cartridges every month so that you won't run out half way through on a Sunday night.

      That's how companies get away with it. The great tech hive mind know HP/Epson's game, but in the grand scheme of things we're a minority in many ways. They don't care that we know they're gangsters, as long as Bertie Big Biscuits' kid can print their homework via a subscription service without questioning it.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Had to stop my HP laser from getting to the internet @g7pro

      HP have another little trick. If you use their driver bundle that comes with the management software, this software which sits on your PC can also update the firmware in the printer.

      So not only do you have to block the printer, you also have to block any PCs with that software installed.

      Not ideal.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just printer subscriptions

    I'm an RBS 'customer'.

    I recently had an annually recurring payment for my one of my car insurance rejected (yes it is partly my fault for leaving a debit card as the payment method with the insurance company, but this is quite normal for the UK). I don't know that SCA was the problem, but the timing is right.

    I got a text from the Bank saying that they had blocked the payment. No explanation, but a query that said the following :- "Reply Y if you made this transaction, please note that this will NOT cause the transaction to go through".

    Huh. I don't get a chance to authorize the payment? So what benefit to me is confirming the transaction?

    I called RBS, and was told that this was a suspicious transaction. Huh again? I've made two adjustments to this insurance since the last renewal (which was also paid the same way) using the same payment method, and the recipient is a valid UK insurance company. Why is this suspicious?

    They could not say, and they also could not do anything to authorize the payment, but they did tell me to wait a few days, and see whether the payment was attempted again.

    So I did, and it wasn't, and I then found out I had been driving without insurance for several days, because the insurance premium was being collected on the last day of the previous policy.

    I got away with it (I think, still time for an ANPR check to come through, although I only did a few short journeys in that car that week) but even parking a car on the road nowadays without insurance is a traffic offense.

    So I could have spotted this sooner if I had been more diligent about checked my spam folder for the mail from the insurance company about the failed payment, but I feel that SCA may have had a part in this, and I am appalled by both the process and the bad advice I got from the RBS.

    What are the chances RBS would compensate me if I do get fined? Pretty slim, I guess.

    Stop the world, I want to get off!

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Not just printer subscriptions

      Germany has a nicer method for this. The insurance company will send you a friendly reminder letter (your third party insurance is still valid), then an unfriendly reminder letter (your third party insurance is still valid), then one very unfriendly letter to you, with a copy to the police, who will turn up and tell you to make the sure the car cannot be driven. But no chance that you do something illegal without knowing. You'll know :-)

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Not just printer subscriptions

      So much pain... Wow.

      My two (French) banks went through this last year. From time to time I now have to go into the app and authenticate myself with a special code number (every 90 days?) and from time to time I have to validate online payments, but since most companies pass this to a third party payment service (for Verified by Visa and the like to work), it's just another code to enter.

      Monthly payment orders (prélèvements, like direct debits) aren't included in this as those are considered pre-authorised.

      All in all, it seems to have been pretty painless, though I don't really understand how replacing an eight digit PIN with a five digit one is supposed to be improving security...

    3. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Not just printer subscriptions

      All payments these days I pay by website or app ... EXCEPT insurance and taxes, which I still pay by check and will continue to do so until the banks stop accepting checks. Your banking tale of woe is one more reminder of why old technology is still sometimes superior to new technology.

  20. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    SMS/email

    If I conduct a transaction and I get an almost immediate, expected sms or email to confirm it I trust it and reply accordingly. Whether it's good or not, the process has some measure of increased security.

    If I get an unsolicited email or sms at a random time it gets junked ...

    Anybody who routinely opens or replies to unsolicited email or sms is exposing themselves to a can of worms.

    Any organisation that expects a customer to routinely open and reply to unsolicited emails or sms messages and quotes it as a "security feature" is at best terribly deluded.

    Any financial overseer that thinks this is a good security methodology for the masses needs replacing.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: SMS/email

      Also, as with Windows " error messages", it may encourage people to "click OK" constantly without reading the message and open a whole new world of scamming.

  21. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Printer doesn't print

    If the printer isn't capable of doing what is its purpose - printing - can't the customer just ask for their money back, since the product is not fit for purpose?

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Printer doesn't print

      They can buy ordinary retail print cartridges and install them and your printer will work fine.

      The legally valid argument Epson use is that the subscription cartridges contain ink that you have not paid for.

  22. TFL

    Next from Cory Doctorow

    "Unauthorized Ink"

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Next from Cory Doctorow

      Puts me in mind of "The Right to Read", but as it's written by someone not mentioned in polite company these days, it is probably sullied by the wrong authorship. The point is still germane.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Next from Cory Doctorow

        I forget now, what did this author become an un-person for?

  23. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Basic risk analysis

    If somebody else has control of something you own, you don't own it. If it takes a subscription to keep something working, why would you purchase it upfront?

    I've been burned before and I never put anything on automatic order/payment. It's not like I'm dealing with hundreds of bills from dozens of vendors each month so it's easy enough to have entries in my calendar software and reminders set that certain bills are due. I also haven't gone "paperless". Bills still arrive on paper in the post so I have another manual check on the bills that need paying.

    The part about the bank calling to get an authorization for a payment is a laugh. I'd just hang up since 99.99999% of the time it would be a scam. Companies can extend me a tiny bit of credit and send a bill or I'd be happy to pre-pay with a one time transaction. I won't be setting up an automatic payment.

    I'm leery about anything that has to be connected to the internet and can be shut off remotely or requires a periodic check in to keep functioning. Even worse is some tech that needs remote services to function. Those sorts of services seem to go out of business or the product you buy is no longer supported so often that it should be a crime for all of the e-waste they create.

  24. Captain_Cretin

    These subscription systems are a con, and as an aside; why doesnt spell check work for titles?

    This is exactly why I refuse to sign up of any "as a service" products, either hardware or software.

    I rejected Epson's ink rental service and pay a fraction of their charges to run my printers; as little as 0.1p per page black, and 0.5p colour (WP-4535)

  25. PaulR79

    Transaction checks always mean payment failure for me

    " customers "may receive a text or phone call from your bank when making online transactions asking you to confirm your identity. These should not be ignored as payments could be declined if banks cannot reach you... ""

    I don't know that I believe this part of the statement. Any time I've received a text (rare) or phone call to check a transaction and cleared it regardless of amount it's always failed to process. It's a good thing to be cautious and I'm sorta glad they have checks to prevent random stolen cards being used but it's meant some urgent puchases have been delayed sometimes over a weekend.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do you expect

    I avoid any such subscription service for many reasons like: security, they will change the rules, change of company owner, change of software or PC makes everything stop working etc etc. The only person that wins is the crooked service provider.

    I wanted a new inkejt many years ago but decided I was bound to be hit by the problem of dried up cartridges.

    I bought a very cheap big Kyocera networked laser printer for much less than the price of a basic inkjet and I have still only used about a quarter of the toner that came with the printer. I don't quite get the inkjet photo quality, but it looks like this will just go on forever.

  27. planetzog

    Avoid

    B*st*rds. Why do these people think that they deny access to MY device? I had an Epson that wouldn't print a document (black ink only) because the magenta cartridge had run out. In other words, I had to buy a magenta ink cartridge to print a black ink document. I unplugged the printer and drove to my local waste recycling centre. As luck would have it, the electrical/tv skip had just been emptied. I threw the Epson printer as high as I could, and it landed at the bottom of the skip with a very satisfying almighty crash. I bought HP after that. And don't fall for those regular payment plans for ink cartridges; just order replacements as a backup.

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