back to article HP pilots paper delivery service for Instant Ink subscribers

HP Inc is piloting a paper delivery service for Instant Ink subscribers as it looks to increase the amount of profit it can wring from customers. The world is going to print fewer and fewer pages now that employees work from both the office and home, so achieving a greater "share of wallet", as it is often referred to by tech …

  1. andy 103
    Facepalm

    Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

    See title.

    No, really. I bought a new HP Deskjet only a year ago. One official HP cartridge for it yields less than 200 pages of A4.

    I have a pack of 500 sheets of A4 paper that I bought from Tesco for about 3 quid. I don't think I'll be running out *paper* any time soon since I can't really afford to print stuff due to the cost of the ink...

    In fact I'd go as far to say that the paper I have bought will outlast the printer.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

      Given the propensity for HP inkjets to clog up and dry out (particularly with low usage), I would tend to agree that the paper will outlast the printer - happened with my last one.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

        That's why I switched to Instant Ink. If the ink dries out then it isn't my problem it is theirs!

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

          I considered that, but then I noticed Instant Ink was a monthly subscription, and additional pages require an internet connection.

          Safer to get a laser printer instead. At least I'll still be able to print a letter begging my ISP to reconnect me.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

            At only $0.99/month for my usage levels I pay for new cartridges about once every 5 years, but they would dry out long before that time was up.

            I agree a color laser is better if you have higher usage, but given that according to Instant Ink I have printed 57 pages in the past year, I won't live long enough for that to make financial sense!

            At this point I use the scanner function a lot more often than the printer function.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

              >At this point I use the scanner function a lot more often than the printer function.

              Expect for that to function there must be Instant ink and Instant paper installed...

        2. Annihilator

          Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

          Depends on the printer, but the printhead itself often dries out and clogs up with it (my last one died that way, printhead not being part of the cartridge in that instance). Also HP's printhead cleaning routine utilises extra ink, that gets sprayed into a little reservoir/pad in the printer - eventually that fills up and the routine is useless.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

            >Also HP's printhead cleaning routine utilises extra ink, that gets sprayed into a little reservoir/pad in the printer

            The routine also doesn't actually clean the print head, just the nozzles if you are lucky. Many times it has been necessary - and is now my normal approach - to remove the printhead/cartridge and clean it and the contact pad with alcohol.

            What I hate about inkjets is how manufacturers (not just HP) have buried the cleaning pad/reservoir so that it is inaccessible and not removable.

            1. 43300

              Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

              "What I hate about inkjets is how manufacturers (not just HP) have buried the cleaning pad/reservoir so that it is inaccessible and not removable."

              All part of the planned obolescence!

              Their lasers are atill better than the inkjets, but those have gone downhills as well. We have some for our smaller remote offices (lower-end MFD desktop types). The previous lot (CM1312 if I recall!) were great - lasted for years and years. The only common issue was the rubber on the pickup roller perishing after a few years and not grabbing the paper any more. New roller was about a fiver online, and it was a ten minute job to change it, just involving just turning the printer upside down and removing the paper tray. Fuser units lasted for ages, and were reasonably straightforward to change (and not excessively expensive)

              Fast forward to now, and the next set (M377) are being replaced after a far shorter period. Mainly because the fuser's knackered. And the fuser units are so expensive that it's not worth replacing them. And even if you want to, it's an absolute pain in the arse. In order to get to the screws holding the fuser in, the side panels need to be pulled outwards at the back, and they are held by flimsy plastic clips which inevitably become brittle with the heat and break off when you try to release them!

        3. DonL

          Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

          "That's why I switched to Instant Ink. If the ink dries out then it isn't my problem it is theirs!"

          Exactly, this was my thought too.

          Over the 5 year lifespan of my previous printer I bought:

          - A printer;

          - 1 pack of paper (500 sheets);

          - Several sets of cartridges, also some non-HP cartridges;

          - Got the printer replaced under warranty once;

          - Got (non-HP) cartridges replaced under warranty once.

          All while only printing less than 400 pages.

          HP cartridges are very expensive while the non-original cartridges perform very poorly in my experience.

          Recently I bought a cheap (€80) new HP printer, activated HP+ and Instant Ink. Now I don't have to worry about this stuff anymore. Also with Mopria support there is a good alternative for the HP printer drivers and apps.

          So far I'm very satisfied.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

            Interestingly, a cartridge obtained through n instant in ink subscription seems to last far longer than one purchased normally. For the same physical size.

            1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

              Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

              You aren't comparing the cartridges that come with the printer are you?

              HP for a long time has included starter cartridges which have barely enough ink for a few hundred pages, which includes their laserjets.

              1. Tom 38 Silver badge

                Re: Paper isn't required due to the cost of ink

                HP for a long time has included starter cartridges which have barely enough ink for a few hundred pages, which includes their laserjets.

                HP's standard inkjet cartridge, HP305 has a stated 120 page yield. HP305XL is 240 pages. The setup cartridge in the box on a typical MFP consumer device is 120 pages.

                HP's consumer laser toner, HP135A is 1100 pages, HP135X is 2400 pages, with the setup toner varying from 700 page yield to 1150 page yield.

  2. Andy Non
    Facepalm

    having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

    Is it heck as like. You can buy paper cheaply from many high street stores or supermarkets. If you need a lot, you tend to buy it from a proper stationary supplier who also deliver it. Personally I'm still using paper I bought more than a decade ago as I print far less nowadays. Ink isn't a problem either as I ditched HP completely and bought a Brother laser printer as very few prints really needed to be in colour anyway. The laser printer toners last forever and aren't expensive.

    What's next - tiny barcodes or other ID on HP printer paper and non-HP branded paper is rejected by the printer? Just how much are HP customers prepared to be screwed over before they vote with their feet?

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

      Yup. We moved to a B/W Brother MFC unit. Works under most OS in the house (the printing from some Android phones is quite hit and miss, GNU/Linux works, Windows as well...). We bought a box (5x500 sheets?) of A$ a few years back. I think we are on the 2nd ream of that. Printing just does not happen as frequently any more. Mostly colouring pictures for the kids during lock down (dinosaurs!).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

        "A$"

        A$ also being useful as a string variable in Basic.

        1. Sceptic Tank
          Headmaster

          Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

          Don't be so pedantic. EVERYBODY knows he was talking about Austrian Dollars for printing at home.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

        We got a B/W Brother MF laser printer last year too, but we do print a lot. We're already through the 600 page "welcome" toner, and on to our first 3rd party toner (2 x 3000 page for £30). With the HP MF inkjet it replaced, we'd be on our 4th ink refill (assuming non of them clogged up before using all the ink), total cost 45 + (4 * 30) = £165. The Brother laser total cost 120 + 30 = £150.

        We do print a fair bit, study notes etc (we're on a bit of a certification kick), love that the laser just churns through the pages - even printing both sides of the page, its around 20 ppm vs 2 ppm on the inkjet - and so far we've never had a paper jam or blockage, and it has a proper 250 page horizontal feed tray instead of 10 pages jammed vertically in the back (where all the blockages came from, always pulling two sheets from there instead of one).

    2. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

      I bought an HP LJ Pro MF478 a few years ago.

      About two years ago it started to warn me that the toners were low so I bought a set of genuine ones. I chose genuine for two reasons - firstly to maintain the free three year on site warranty it came with and secondly because I've previously had issues with non branded ones that ended up trashing a printer.

      I haven't fitted them yet - I don't print loads but I do print.

      I think these new toners will outlive the printer at this rate.

      1. Maventi

        Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

        Bought one of these also. Just works from any OS (though I haven't tried Windows yet), never had to battle with it to this day. Seems that HP can still make a good printer if you are willing to pay up front.

        With that said, if HP's current shenanigans eventually make it to the LJ Pro series then the next printer will be a Brother.

    3. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

      s/stationary/stationery/

      -> What's next - tiny barcodes or other ID on HP printer paper and non-HP branded paper is rejected by the printer?

      This sort of thing is already happening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJs9_xELKbI.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

      Heavy? Painful? WTF? I must be doing it wrong then. I do tend to go through periods of heavy print use to non-existent use.

      My next printer will NOT be an HP, that's for sure as I view their consumables (paper/ink) as over priced.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

        >I do tend to go through periods of heavy print use to non-existent use.

        Just hope that your period of "heavy print use" doesn't go over your subscription limit: Your subscription is for 10 sheets a month, so that s what gets delivered every month, obviously you can print more, by going into your account and changing the subscription level, but expect to wait 5+ working days before increased supplied are delivered...

    5. weirdbeardmt

      Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

      Um, well… be careful what you wish for.

      https://www.zdnet.com/article/dymo-causes-a-stir-by-adding-drm-to-printer-paper/

      1. Fifth Horseman

        Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

        I was going to mention this too.

        Dave Jones has an entertaining rant about it on his EEVBlog channel. (One of the few things worth watching on YouTube these days.)

    6. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

      >Is it heck as like. You can buy paper cheaply from many high street stores or supermarkets.

      Its HP suspect the paper it wants to supply is LETTER, a size not readily available outside of the USA...

    7. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: having to go buy paper [is] heavy, very painful

      "Personally I'm still using paper I bought more than a decade ago "

      I have loads of premium paper I've bought at estate sales. Office supplies often go cheap. I also grab cling film, foil, zip-lock bags, etc. Most consumable kitchen stuff will get binned if nobody grabs it so it sells for pennies. Cleaning supplies are another place to find bargains. Who cares if the bottle of widow cleaner is half used, it works just as well. One of these days my trusty HP 4100TN laser printer will fail to print a page and I'll be sad. My page cost is very cheap (I buy OEM toner cheap as I find it). I have a couple of inkjet printers but one needs $$$$$ of ink and the other just isn't used. I send out files for photo printing and get better quality than I could ever do myself.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Readers may be wondering if HP paper is competitive with market rates"

    They might also wonder about the quality and the specifications. We use five different paper types for different purposes, and have found it pays to buy mid-price rather than the cheapest, but always from known paper manufacturers. I'd bet that HP don't make their own paper but buy it in from who knows who.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    own goal?

    > So really our goal is to shift as many consumers as we can to the subscription model.

    Whenever a corporation says this, you can be sure that it is in THEIR best interests, not those of its customers. For us, the best strategy is to go in the opposite direction.

    And the best opposite direction is to use a different supplier.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: own goal?

      sireley they meant

      "shaft as many cutomers as we can"?

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: own goal?

      Whenever a corporation says this, you can be sure that it is in THEIR best interests, not those of its customers. For us, the best strategy is to go in the opposite direction.

      And the best opposite direction is to use a different supplier.

      Adobe, is that one? LOL

  5. Schultz
    Go

    Manager Logic ...

    "… we make more money per customer. It's also a better value proposition for the customer."

    Who can spot the unique manager logic in that sentence? They are not lying of course , ... just basing their logic on some unspecified 'value', i.e., not having to carry the paper must be worth, like, 3 cent per page, amIright?

    1. andy 103
      Pint

      Re: Manager Logic ...

      Naturally ignoring the fact that the average home user probably buys less than 1000 sheets of A4 per year.

      If we say a 500 sheet 80 gsm pack weighs 2.5 Kg... it's not really that much of a ballache to move it from a supermarket trolley into a car, then into the house.... twice per year.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Manager Logic ...

        But wouldn't it be so much better for those 1000 sheets to be delivered as 80 sheets per month in a nice bendy cardboard package (will need to be to fit through the typical letterbox, otherwise left outside in the rain/damp) - just hope HP printers can handle pre-creased paper.

    2. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: Manager Logic ...

      The manager won't be worried about the weight of the paper as they will never touch it.

      Someone else will take delivery,

      someone else will move it to the printer,

      someone else will load it into the printer.

      Probably followed by someone else collecting the managers printouts on the printer after several days and putting them in the shredder or recycling box.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Great Printer Reset

    You will not own the printer and you'll be happy.

    Honestly, if you are stuck with HP printer, go recycle it and buy something like Brother laser printer.

    I paid for mine 50 quid used ages ago and only last year had to change toner and paid like 35 quid delivered.

    In comparison to ink printers, you'll feel you can print until the cows come home and not worry about anything running out.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Great Printer Reset

      "Honestly, if you are stuck with HP printer, go recycle it "

      This depends entirely on the age and type of the printer. Old-school HP printers just go on working.

      1. Sub 20 Pilot

        Re: Great Printer Reset

        I would disagree there. I have an Epson laser which is still working after 15 years and gets used several times a week. Probably a few 100 A4 sheets a month.

        I also have a HP plotter that costs a fortune to use - I print a number of A1 sheets per week. I am considering changing to a print service where I pay someone else per print as I will not be buying another HP plotter. Each one I have purchased over the last 25 years has been more expensive and of a crapper quality. Also the stupidly expensive ink cartriges do a 'self clean' now and again which uses a big chunk of ink and I get less out of them year on year.

        I look forward to retirement where I can stop all of this nonsense.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    HP Printers

    Used to rock! Some were built like one too! Glad I didn't buy a printer from HP the last time I needed one...

    1. KA1AXY
      Thumb Up

      Re: HP Printers

      I have an LJ5. Old HP printers *still* rock!

      You can still get them used/refurb for not much. Supplies and parts still available. Built like brick outhouses and should be the last printer you'll ever need. Mine came to me free, from a local law office who put it on their doorstep and posted it on the local freecycle page. Needed about $150 of parts to get running. Works like a champ.

  8. b0llchit Silver badge
    Big Brother

    HP PaaS

    Printer as a Service

    That is the next big HP thing. You select HP's new internet connected printer driver "Print to Drone Delivery" and press OK. Then, with a drone, the paper literally comes flying in. Coming to an area near you soon.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: HP PaaS

      Their costs would be significantly lower as they wouldn't have to bother making the ink-subsidised printers and they could charge more. Don't give them ideas.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HP PaaS

      Well I have sort of moved to that already. Given up printing photos at home - with all the issues of 'is this the right paper' - 'is this the right size' - 'where did I put the photo paper tray' - ' have i got a spare cyan cartidge' - when any number of online services will print and deliver within 24 hours.

    3. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: Print to Drone Delivery

      Future: Print to printer nearest the desk of the person you were planning to give the printout.

      If that is not obvious, the HP Print-AI will deduce from the content of the image and a complete search of all your email and social media to decide. If no physical location can be determined, the AI involved will search for the IP addresses used to contact them, and run scans to determine which backdoors are available to facilitate "local" delivery.

      Of course some beardies will natter on about security, but who listens to them?

  9. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Careless wishes

    Between 20 to 30 percent of new customers are buying printing in this way but HP would like that figure to be closer to 50 to 60 percent.

    I would increase the price to non-subscription new customers until I drove three quarters of them to competitors.

  10. Annihilator

    "The world is going to print fewer and fewer pages now that employees work from both the office and home"

    Now that I work from home and can't print for free at the office any more, you're right.

    It's also a lot harder to pilfer paper and other office supplies. A lot less satisfying too, stealing it from your own home.

    More seriously I've had an HP instant ink thing for about 2 years now - that's how much free instant ink came with it. It cost about £60 for the printer/scanner combo. It's about to run out of credit, and I'm sad to say that I'll probably pick up a new printer with another 2 years of instant ink. Appalling for the environment, I accept, but sadly true.

    1. andy 103
      Happy

      Now that I work from home and can't print for free at the office any more, you're right.

      I suspect you're not alone in this. In the past I used to print things like flight tickets, vouchers etc... because it was "free" to do it at work.

      Now that I'm paying for the ink on my low yield HP Deskjet I'm much more inclined to not bother and use apps/websites that let me scan a QR code for the ticket, or view whatever it was I might have printed in the past like insurance documents.

      Ironically this is actually the desired effect because the world frankly could do with printing a lot less. I'm almost in support of what HP are doing if it drives away customers to the point where nobody has any need for a printer in their home. In an office environment I doubt printers will go for decades... but for home users it's a different matter.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "free" instant ink? How much have you been paying for the subscription?

      1. Annihilator

        "free" as in a free 2-year subscription that came with the £50 printer (HP Envy 5050, from memory it was reduced to about £30). I've been paying nothing. I'm noticing that they're much less generous than they used to be with that offer, and 9 months is now more likely.

        They also changed Instant Ink midway through and offered cheaper tariffs for fewer printed pages. So technically I had a £x credit that I've eked out to be about 2.5 years. They'll ask me for payment details next month to carry on using it, and I've had this printer since before the pandemic. I think I've done all right for £30.

    3. DexterWard

      The instant ink thing is good. I reckon it works out at about half the cost of buying cartridges, and they get delivered automagically whenever your old ones are getting low. For £48 per year I think it’s good value. Laserjets still work out cheaper, but I use colour a lot, and colours lasers are not cheap.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        colour lasers are not cheap

        Really? I bought a Brother HL-L3270CDW at Staples (US office supply) for US$180 and it wasn't on sale. I'd say that was fairly cheap.

        It has a black cartridge so printing black doesn't use up all your color cartridges, and a nifty LCD displaying individual toner levels.

        Works with Linux and Windows just fine. Edit: it also does duplex and actually doesn't jam while doing so! First working duplex printer I've had at home.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        I got a Canon laser printer / scanner combo about 6 years ago for £200. It still has the original cartridges that came with it, and the black one has 20% left in it, and the colour ones have 60% left in them. I guess I will get a black cartridge when it runs out, and when the colours run out, I will look at getting a new printer.

  11. Auntie Dix Bronze badge
    Coat

    Refuse Printers Crippled by "HP Instant Stink"

    Here we are in 2022: Consumer protection seems as weak as ever; consumer apathy, as strong.

    We need enterprise leaders to respond to HP's games: "Enough. We'll buy elsewhere."

    Dream on, I know.

  12. Happy Lemming

    What kind of paper?

    Paper by subscription? What kind of paper? I print on 20-lb, 24-lb, 32lb, various photo papers, brochure, and several card weights. All are available locally and most could be delivered to my door tomorrow. Good luck figuring out what I want next. But keep the instant ink coming - it's convenient and cheap, particularly when printing a lot of color.

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Printing is so 20th century

    HP behaviour is an incitement to print less and less. And that's a good thing, because many times it's just a waste, especially in offices.

    By experience, introducing secure printing (having to type a code before printing is really made) reduced printing by 30% to 50%. Before this, at least one page over three was printed but not picked. And to add insult to injury, there were quite often confidential data on those, pages visible to anyone going to the printer.

  14. Ball boy

    And recycling?

    Under the ink scheme, we're meant to return the used cartridges to HP. Does this mean we get to return all the paper we printed on and HP will recycle that as well?

  15. wolfetone Silver badge

    If it succeeds, I bet they'll go down the Dymo route and start DRM'ing the paper as well.

  16. Pen-y-gors

    Home delivery

    I think the idea of having someone deliver printer supplies directly to your office/home is absolutely brilliant. No need to traipse round the shops.

    I'm amazed that Amazon haven't thought of it already.

    Oh no, wait...

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