Compensation for HP printer users

| May 5, 2018

Customers who bought certain models of HP printers without being told that non-HP ink cartridges may not work in them could be eligible for compensation.

HP has given the ACCC a court-enforceable undertaking to compensate customers who were unable to use non-HP ink cartridges due to an undisclosed technology blocking the use of alternative cartridges in their printers.

The technology, known as “Dynamic Security Feature” (DSF), was designed to prevent non-HP ink cartridges from being used in these HP printers, forcing customers to buy HP refills.

HP has sold approximately 220,000 of these printers in Australia and a large number of them had DSF installed either before the time of purchase or subsequently when a firmware update made available by HP was downloaded by customers.

In September 2016, some owners of HP OfficeJet inkjet printers who were using non-HP ink cartridges had those ink cartridges rejected, and in many cases, received an error message which indicated that the cartridge was damaged, when this was not the case.

“Consumers were not made aware of the restriction on using non-HP ink cartridges when buying the printer or downloading the firmware update, and were denied the choice to accept or reject it.” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“The ACCC was also very concerned that HP used technology to change these printers’ functionality after purchase, without alerting consumers to the restriction on the use of non-HP ink cartridges which was being installed.”

“Businesses must disclose all important information about their products, including if there are any restrictions on the use of non-genuine parts or refills,” Dr Schaper said.

HP has admitted that by not disclosing to consumers that these printers, or the firmware update, included technology preventing the use of certain non-HP ink cartridges, it was likely to have breached the Australian Consumer Law by engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct.

HP has undertaken to compensate consumers $50 who were prevented from using a non-HP cartridge. More than 2000 customers who used non-HP cartridges are likely to have been affected by the conduct, making total compensation for consumers over $100,000.

HP will also make it clear on its packaging and at point of sale, where printers contain the DSF technology and that it is designed to prevent the use of non-HP ink cartridges.

HP has since made available an automatic firmware update for download which removes the DSF from certain inkjet printer models and allows customers to use non-HP cartridges.

The undertaking is available at HP PPS Australia Pty Ltd .

Details of how to claim compensation are on the HP website .

Consumers can also contact HP via 1800 625 236 for more information.

Background

The ten HP inkjet printer models affected by the conduct are:

  • HP OfficeJet Pro 6230;
  • HP OfficeJet 6820;
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 6830;
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8610;
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8620;
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8630;
  • HP OfficeJet Pro X551dw;
  • HP OfficeJet Pro X476dw MFP;
  • HP OfficeJet Pro X576dw MFP; and
  • HP OfficeJet Pro X451dw.

The ACCC says the printer debacle serves as a timely reminder to firms to disclose all the important product information to their customers at the time of purchase, including any restrictions on the use of ‘non-genuine’ parts.

If businesses fail to provide relevant information to consumers about their products they could be breaching the Australian Consumer Law by engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct. You can find out more about advertising and promoting your business in the ACCC’s recently updated Small business & the Competition and Consumer Act guide.

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