HP’s Instant Ink service left me with invisible benefits

<span>Photograph: Elise Amendola/AP</span>
Photograph: Elise Amendola/AP

A few years ago I took out an Instant Ink subscription service for my HP home printer. You pay a monthly amount based on your expected use and when the ink is running low the printer sends a message to HP, which sends a new cartridge in the post.

However, I have been hardly using my printer so I tried to reduce the amount of ink ‘ordered’ each month. The website makes this difficult to do and I ended up getting conflicting messages that said I had both cancelled and changed my subscription.

In the end it turned out that it had been cancelled and, after a very frustrating call to the customer service helpline, I was told it couldn’t be reset.

As the subscription has ended HP has made the ink I have left unusable by sending a message to my printer. This leaves me with four ink cartridges I cannot use. I dread to think how much I have paid and how little ink I have used.

CR, Norfolk

HP’s Instant Ink subscription, which the company says has 11 million subscribers around the world, claims to offer Britons a saving of up to 70% on their printing costs. HP says subscribers pay for the number of pages they print a month rather than for the cartridges per se, a detail some users may miss. For a home user, this monthly subscription service starts at 99p for 10 pages, and goes up to £9.99 for 300. You started out paying £1.99 in 2019 for 50 pages but the cost of this plan increased to £2.99 earlier this year.

HP says: “Customers can adjust their plan or cancel whenever they like. Cartridges delivered as part of an Instant Ink subscription will only work while a printer is enrolled in the HP Instant Ink service. If the subscription has been cancelled, at the end of the billing cycle the cartridges will stop working and will need to be returned to HP for recycling via the postage-paid envelopes provided. To continue printing after the billing cycle ends, customers are still able to use standard cartridges in their printer.”

Overall you spent about £90 and feel that by disabling the cartridges HP is preventing you from using ink you have paid for. The company is following the rules of the scheme but it seems mean-spirited not to let you finish the cartridge in your printer and I understand why you feel short-changed.

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