The HP technical support forums have been turbulent over the past few days. Dozens of users are complaining that their inkjet printers with non-genuine cartridges suddenly stopped working on Sept. 12 or 13.
The printer displays a message about an ink cartridge problem as follows: "The following ink cartridges are missing or damaged [list of cartridges]. Replace the ink cartridges to resume printing. The problem affected Officjet 8610, 8615, 8620, 8625, 8630 with HP 950/951 (950XL/951XL) cartridges.
It seems strange that users all over the world suddenly ran out of ink in all cartridges on the same day. To put it bluntly, this is very suspicious.
"As of September 12, our Officjet 8610 is reporting that the non-HP ink cartridges were "damaged" Yes, all four cartridges mysteriously "damaged" at one point. We’ve always used this brand of cartridges, excellent print quality, never had any problems, " writes the irate topicstarter under the nickname CascadiaHigh – HP, why do you keep doing this? We DO NOT WANT to buy your ink for $100 when the same quality is achievable for one-fifth of the cost. Please provide a workaround so we can continue to use whatever ink we want."
The problem has been confirmed on the forum by other users. In most cases the "cartridge damage" occurred on September 13. One user said that the error appeared after installing a new version of the firmware.
The experts at Inkjet411, which sells ink and refilled cartridges, found out , what’s wrong.
An investigation revealed that on March 12, 2016, HP released a new version of firmware (ending in R1547A) that effectively blocks older versions of the smart chip installed in HP 950/951 (950XL/951XL) cartridges. The firmware only recognizes new versions of the smart chip, and many refilled cartridges that were previously sold by third-party companies cannot work – the printer simply does not recognize them.
HP has done the right thing. It did not activate the smart chip lock immediately after installing the firmware. Then the problem would have become known sooner, and many users would have avoided the upgrade. No, the cartridges failed en masse exactly 6 months after the firmware was released, which is September 12, 2016. That’s the date HP set for the "fake cartridges" shutdown.
If the user has updated the printer firmware and is using cartridges with old smart chips, the printer displays a message: "Cartridge Error", "One or more cartridges are missing or damaged", or "Old generation cartridge".
Examples of error messages are shown below (the indicated ink colors may alternate in the message).
An HP employee spoke at a technical support forum. She advises users who have a failed printer to install an original cartridge. "If monetary cost is an issue, have you considered HP Instant Ink. ? You can save up to 50% on ink costs with this program. There are often promotions to extend your subscription for several months for free, " advises affected HP Expert users under the nickname Ciara_B.
The experts at Inkjet411 offer another solution to the problem If you have already installed the new firmware, you should take the refilled cartridge to the company where you bought it. They probably know about the problem and can replace it with a new cartridge with a modern version of the smart chip. Do the same with all old refilled cartridges.
If you have not already installed the new firmware, be sure to turn off the HP Update automatic update feature.
In the auto update settings, select the update frequency by specifying "Never".
If the program shows a message about updating the firmware, do not accept it under any circumstances.
In general, HP’s actions are understandable. The company controls the lion’s share of the global inkjet printer market. The main profit the company receives precisely from the sale of cartridges and ink. If the printer itself is sold at cost price or lower, then the cartridges and ink are sold several times over, with a margin of hundreds of percent.
For example, Amazon’s most popular inkjet printer Hewlett-Packard Envy 4520 costs $69.99. Seems wow cheap – but only until the moment the printer runs out of ink in at least one color. The HP 63XL three-color cartridge for it costs $31.99, and the black ink cartridge sells separately for $31.97. By comparison, refilled cartridges for this printer can be purchased for $25, 77 (for both the color and black and white cartridges). You can find cheaper ones.
That is, the user chooses whether to buy original cartridges for $63.96 or non-original cartridges for $25.77. If the cartridges are purchased for a firm, there’s no problem buying an official cartridge at the triple price, but if you’re buying a cartridge for your personal printer, it’s probably better to choose the second option.
Naturally, the company tries to block the installation of third-party cartridges. To do this, they equip them with smart chips. The case of blocking the old smart chips in the firmware is probably not the last such story.
Manufacturers traditionally say that this is done for the benefit of the users themselves, so they do not ruin their printers with low-quality ink. But having saved on three cartridges, you can buy a new printer!