In what can only be described as a baffling turn of events, HP started responding to Instant Ink subscription cancellations by taking hostages. Valuable hostages, at that, seeing how the company started targeting ink cartridges, preventing people from using perfectly fine toners should they ever realize how grossly they’re overpaying for them. More specifically, one Ryan Sullivan learned an important lesson earlier this week after canceling his $5-a-month subscription to Instant Ink. “I’ve had it for over a year but had no idea what it did,” he explained.
Not a new low for the anti-consumer printing industry
His confusion was promptly replaced with outrage after he realized that in canceling his Instant Ink subscription, his printer’s cartridge went on strike. Sullivan took to Twitter to share his bizarre experience and was understandably highly critical of the said scam-as-a-service business model.
The ridiculously high prices of printer cartridges have been a meme since this technology first made its way to consumers. Even as the very nature of electronics allows most types of products to simultaneously get better and cheaper over time, the cartel-like behavior of the printing industry managed to turn the market on its head and continue to charge exorbitant ink prices for decades. Further underlining that ridiculous state of affairs are frequent reports of serial ink cartridge bandits popping up all over the world, including developed countries with otherwise minuscule crime rates.
HP is hardly the only company in the segment that’s been leveraging digital rights management (DRM) software to bully their customers into sticking with their expensive cartridge refills over much cheaper third-party alternatives. Japanese corporation Epson is currently fighting a class action filed in California late last year over pretty much the same thing. American laser printer manufacturer Lexmark is equally notorious for such acts, as well. However, as the focus on environmentally conscious business management continues to grow and third-party suppliers remain insistent on aggressively competing with market behemoths, the printing industry may not be able to get away with its shady practices for much longer, at least not to the extent exemplified in this scandalous instance.