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LD Products examines Instant Ink

October 24, 2016

HPInstantInk2The US retailer and remanufacturer outlined eight things “you should know before signing up” to the OEM’s service.

LD began by pointing out that “subscription-based services seem to be everywhere these days”, and that Instant Ink “is another monthly service jumping on the subscription bandwagon, and with it they are reinventing the way you buy ink”. While the OEM “may be finally offering their ink for a competitive price […] after years of high cartridge prices, some customers are understandably apprehensive”.

This is because “instead of owning a cartridge outright and printing when needed, you are paying to print a predetermined amount of pages each month”, with the service offered at three separate prices including the $2.99 (€2.74) “occasional plan” for 50 prints a month; the “moderate plan” for $4.99 (€4.58) and 100 prints a month; and the “frequent plan” for $9.99 (€9.17) and 300 prints. While price-wise the service “looks pretty enticing”, if you “peel back the fine print”, dealing with the service’s “rules and regulations may outweigh the convenience of a low monthly cost”.

LD’s first point was that a “printed page may not be what you expect”, as HP Inc defines a page as one “upon which any amount [of] ink is placed by your printer”, so even a line of text would count. This could “put you in a bit of a pickle if you normally don’t think about monthly printing habits”, and you might need to “factor in for unexpected and unintentional prints”.

Its second point was to “beware of overage fees”, as “printing than your subscription warrants may add up”, with $1 (€0.91) per additional 15 pages on occasional, $1 per 20 pages on moderate and $1 per 25 pages on frequent. Customers might need to “plan ahead and weigh their options”, while “investing in a set of back-up cartridges makes the most sense if you have a lot more printing to do”.

Third was that the OEM “monitors your activity”, remotely monitoring “page count, ink levels, the type of documents you print, the type of device you use” and “whether the last cartridge you used was new or used”. Fourth was that replacement cartridges “may take up to 10 days to arrive”, as they are sent via “standard shipping”, and with the system tracking ink and sending it based on your usage, “you might want your next cartridge waiting in the wings, not waiting in transit”.

Fifth was that “unused prints roll over to the next month – up to a certain point”, with a maximum of 50 pages on occasional, 100 on moderate and 300 on frequent, so “the number of rollover pages you can acquire is automatically capped”. Sixth, LD Products pointed out, was that the printer “must be connected to the internet to accurately monitor your use”, so if connections are “spotty or disconnected” the OEM “won’t be able to properly record your page total”, and will be recorded after reconnection, potentially a problem if a big print job is run offline.

The seventh point was that the service “only works with certain printers”, with those compatible ranging in price from $70 (€64) to $380 (€348), while finally, if you “forget to pay your Instant Ink bill”, the OEM “just might shut off access”, LD noting that “worrying about a monthly charge to use something as commonplace as a printer isn’t something we are used to”. Such a delay “might be a bigger issue than anticipated if you happen to low on ink” as well, with shipping of a replacement potentially delayed.

The company concluded that while the service is “making us think differently about the way we print”, and the low prices are “very enticing”, customers trying to “stick to a strict printing budget” might find the fees “end up being a burden”, and that the points addressed are “worth keeping in mind. Aftermarket cartridges are “a compelling alternative” if a consumer is unsure, LD Products added, and are “competitively priced” as well as allowing you to “print freely”, though “the choice is up to you!”

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