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Instant Ink blocks users’ printers

March 10, 2016

The message received by Bob LeVitus after his card had expired

The message received by Bob LeVitus after his card had expired

The service blocks users from using their printer if their credit card has expired.

In a series of articles analysing Epson’s EcoTank printers and HP Inc’s Instant Ink service (here and here), Mac Observer writer Bob LeVitus found that HP Inc’s Instant Ink programme “remotely disabled” his HP Inc printer after his “credit card had expired”. It appears that when the card registered to an Instant Ink account expires, HP Inc notifies the user that their account will be suspended, and LeVitus said that he “had to see what would happen, so I didn’t update my card and my account was indeed suspended”.

On checking the printer, he was “a little surprised when my printer ceased to function and would only display [an] error message”, which read “Cannot print. Visit www.hpinstantink.com for information”. He stated that “if you choose any Instant Ink plan, there’s a possibility that your printer will be disabled remotely by HP”, adding that “I know I’m at fault in this instance, but what if I had not seen the emails from HP? Or was on deadline with a client in the office waiting?.

“The bottom line is that if you choose an Epson EcoTank printer, you’ll never have tot hink about it being remotely disabled. In all fairness, if I thought one of the Instant Ink plans was appropriate for me, I’d continue using it in spite of the (admittedly somewhat remote) possibility of again having it remotely disabled someday”. His pieces on the two competing technologies outlined that EcoTank machines “should be more economical for me in the long run” because he prints a lot of pages each month, and he began the series after become “excited” when the two technologies were offered for testing.

LeVitus noted that the EcoTanks “aren’t cheap” to buy initially, but are cheaper afterwards on refilling them, while Instant Ink’s payment on printing pages per month and “convenience” of having replacement cartridges sent out is tempered by the disabling of the printers.

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