Of course, I’m referring to Hewlett Packard. A couple of guys down in Palo Alto, California, who started a company in a garage and landed a contract with Disney to help in putting together the animation classic, “Fantasia.”

You probably know them best by the HP printer that lives in your home.

I had become pretty much an HP loyalist. I can’t even remember the last time I purchased a non-HP printer. Oh, wait, yes I can. It was last week, when I fired my current HP printer because of their Instant Ink program. Keep reading, because if I can help you avoid this pyramid scheme, you’ll thank me later.

So, over a year ago, I subscribed to their “Instant Ink” program. The way it works, if you need to print a certain amount of pages a month, they’ll remotely keep track of how many you print. If you go over, it’s a nominal fee. The benefit is that you don’t have to keep running to the store to buy new ink cartridges. For a while, with my usual print load, it worked fine.

Then the shirt-storm of 2020 rolled around and I had two other people in the house using the printer and the amount of printing took a serious leap. So, I bumped up the program from something like $6 a month to $12.  So, on the high side, that would be $144 for a year’s worth of print cartridges. One black ink cartridge clocks in at $50 if you buy it in the store, so it made sense to keep it going.

But then, one day, when I really needed to be able to print something, my black ink ran out. I looked in my office cupboard and there was every color in the printer rainbow except black. HP had not sent me one, even though they were monitoring my use. I contacted them via chat, I believe, and they said I would have one IN A WEEK!

That did me no good, so I went out and bought a $50 replacement for the black. (which I didn’t have time to do, but I made time)

A while later, that black ink cartridge ran out and I had yet to receive a replacement for the first black cartridge that ran out. OK, this isn’t working, so I went online and canceled my participation in the HP Instant Ink program.

I received an email that confirmed my withdrawal from the program, but with a nice little surprise. I’m sure it was in the fine print somewhere when I first signed up. But because I’m leaving the Instant Ink program, all the HP cartridges I had standing by in assorted colors WOULD NOT WORK WITH MY HP PRINTER because I had withdrawn from the program. If I remember correctly, they wanted me to send them back.

Well, maybe I was reacting emotionally and maybe this wasn’t such a bad deal after all. So I restarted my subscription to Instant Ink, which lasted several weeks until the latest black ink cartridge I had purchased at the store ran out of ink.

This time, I tried to reach someone at HP. Someone, anyone. I called a number and made contact with someone I could barely understand who informed me after I was on the phone with him for five minutes and explained my story that there was nothing he could do to help. I was told I had to call another number. I was done.

Wanting to take a sledge hammer to the printer, I opted instead to head over to an Office Depot and shop around for a new non-HP printer. Something I learned there—they have printers on display, but that only lets you know what they look like so you can order one. Due to so many people working from home these days, there’s a printer shortage going on.

But now there’s a glut of hand sanitizer. Funny how life works that way.

In any case, I decided to buy one final black ink cartridge from HP. That will be the last of my money they will get. It was the big one, so that should last long enough until my new, shiny Brother printer arrives this week. 

I’ll continue to use the HP printer until the black ink runs out, and then it has a therapeutic date with a sledge hammer.

FYI, in researching which printer to buy, of course, I went to Consumer Reports. On their list of recommended All-in-One Printers, the top four are Brother. Keep going down the list, and it’s back and forth between Brother and Canon. The first HP printer doesn’t show up until slot #14.

I’m thinking that Consumer Reports must have been an HP Instant Ink subscriber.

Now I have to go back to Consumer Reports and go over their list of recommended sledge hammers.

HP, you’re dead to me.

Tim Hunter

PS–The day after writing this blog, my Instant Ink subscription expired. They charged me a final FU $17 and then, disabled the printer from printing. As mentioned above, all of the Instant Ink cartridges were disabled. Now, remember, I had purchased (over $50 worth of Black Ink) a non-Instant Ink cartridge….but now my printer won’t even print with that. The mob boss at HP has shut me down. You may not be able to tell, but this pisses me off even more.

HP is now irrelevant.

PSPS–So, I just got off with chat support where I was told that in order to use my printer again, I will have to buy non-Instant Ink color cartridges for the $50 black & white one to work.

And I was told, “Yes, you do.”

Fortunately, I was able to find some non-HP color cartridges so they have seen the last of my money.

Long live Brother.

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