If you catch me at the end of a frustrating day, I can sometimes be overheard swearing quietly under my breath about certain technology platforms, especially inkjet printers. Make no mistake, I was a huge fan when they first appeared on the scene – being able to print your own, high-quality photos was a dream come true for amateur photographers and graphic designers, of which I was both when HP released their famous “Deskjet” printer in 1998. Twenty-five years later, HP has managed to twist this innovative hardware platform into yet another moneymaking scam with their inescapable ink subscription platform. At least one judge has heard our suffering, made evident after denying the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit brought against HP for falsely advertising all-in-one printers that stop functioning if ink is low or missing, even if the function doesn’t require ink (like scanning or faxing).
What this means for you
Let’s be real. The chances of a mega-corporation being brought to heel by a California judge are fairly slim, but the fact that one of them stood up to the world’s largest printer manufacturer means that there are people still willing to stand up for consumers, keeping that small spark of hope still lit in this cynic’s heart. In case you happen to be one of the 7 people on Earth who haven’t fallen into this trap in the past 10 years or so, most of the major printer manufacturers have turned their inkjet product lines into the razor and blades model of the new millennium wherein the printers are sold cheaply (sometimes at a loss) because the ink cartridges they require are the real money maker. Up until maybe 3-4 years ago, third-party ink sellers leveled the playing field somewhat by providing less expensive (and usually lower quality) consumables for those printers, but once the manufacturers realized how much money they were leaving on the table, they closed that loophole by locking down the printers to require “genuine” ink and toner. While an argument can be made that using non-genuine consumables gives the manufacturer reasonable justification for voiding warranties or declining warranty service, it’s not clear what justifies rendering them completely nonfunctional because one of your ink colors is low or depleted. Except of course, the pure-profit motive that seems to drive every consumer technology company these days.
That’s enough ranting for one day. If you need some lightly NSFW humor to lighten the mood (WARNING: Foul language ahead!), have a read of @System32Comics on Instagram (I know, I know, “social media bad,” but “independent web comic artists GOOD!”), including one of my all-time favorites of theirs which perfectly illustrates the dystopian world in which we now live:
Image by pavelkovar from Pixabay