Do you have a printer? Are you sure you are the owner?

A message on the computer of an HP OfficeJet Pro printer owner indicated that the device had been remotely disabled by the company.

When he logged on to HP's website, he learned why:

The credit card he used to sign up for the HP Instant ink refill program had expired, and the company had disabled the device in response.

hp officejet pro

Instant Ink is a monthly subscription plan that supposedly monitors printer usage, ink levels, and automatically sends new cartridges when they run low. But the name is misleading, because the monthly charge is not for the ink but for the number of pages printed. (Recommended home plan is $5,99 per month for 100 pages).

The monthly fee is charged whether you print anything or not, and the ink cartridges seem to have some ownership space of their own. You do have them, but you're essentially renting them and your machine if you're enrolled in the program.

We are always talking about a device that you paid from 70-300 euros to get. So your printer can work perfectly until Hewlett-Packard, a technology company, disables it with a market capitalization of 28 billion dollars right now because you didn't pay the monthly fee for an ink delivery service you may not need.

There are many similar stories in HP customer support website, In Reddit posts but also on Twitter. Of course, one is pending class action in California claims the Instant Ink program has “significant gaps” and does not deliver new cartridges on time or allow enrollees to use other cartridges purchased from other stores, often leaving the consumer unable to print.

"No one told me that if I canceled Instant Ink, then all these cartridges would stop working," complains another HP printer owner. "I guess this is our future, where printer ink is spying on us."

All of the above is a very good example of how digital subscriptions have managed to completely blur the boundaries of physical ownership. Even if you pay for something, you can't say for sure that you are the owner. HP can flip a switch and turn it off.

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Written by giorgos

George still wonders what he's doing here ...

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