If you own an HP printer, you might be one of the unfortunate few who learned of the company’s third-party ink cartridge policy the hard way.
This policy discourages users from purchasing and installing third-party ink cartridges through the inclusion of software that voluntarily shuts down operation in accessories that detect “cloned” features.
According to HP Chief Operating Officer Jon Flaxman, “When ink cartridges are cloned or counterfeited, the customer is exposed to quality and potential security risks, compromising the printer experience.”
Of course, that is not necessarily going to stop consumers trying to save a few bucks from buying third party ink cartridges online. Or, rather, it was not really enough to deter consumers, the list of which has grown over the past few years.
And along with that list of effected printers, there is now an equally long list of complaints. And HP aims to address these complaints.
Flaxman goes on to say, “As a new company, we are committed to transparency in all of our communications and when we fall short, we call ourselves out. Although only a small number of customers have been affected, one customer who has a poor experience is one too many.”
You may recall that almost two years ago HP had announced its decision to split into two separate—and publicly traded—companies. These became Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (to deal with infrastructure, services, and software) and HP Inc (to deal with personal systems and printing). This transaction was completed in November but, apparently, not all the details had been worked out.
Flaxman continues, “We should have done a better job of communicating about the authentication procedure to customers, and we apologize.”
As such, HP’s reversal comes only two days after author Cory Doctorow wrote, on behalf of digital rights activist Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to accuse HP of abusing its security update mechanism to “trick its customers,” and demand that the company remove this blockade.
Now, Flaxman says, the company will continue to use security features that include “authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working,” adding that the company continues its commitment to improving communication with customers to increase understanding over “concerns about cloned and counterfeit supplies.”
In a blog post, EFF welcomed the update, though they continue to question HP’s internal motives, commenting, “We remain troubled by the trend of companies using digital locks to break their own products’ functionality, and then representing those locks as security features. These anti-features endanger Internet security while making our products less useful. We hope that other companies learn from HP’s mistakes.”