Many probably see the world today as being predominantly digital, but the unfortunate fact is that printed documents still occupy a large, if not critical, part of the world. Despite their dependence on printers, these devices never really became the perfect and convenient experiences that their manufacturers advertise. Some of these printer manufacturers tried to embrace modern business trends without actually embracing modern mindsets. HP, for example, is starting a new “printer as a service” program that requires a subscription fee or your printer will stop working.
This sudden and unexpected change is actually based on a slightly different type of subscription service that HP launched a long time ago. You still pay a monthly fee, but that’s for the ink that he delivers to you. This amount of ink is based on how many pages you think you print regularly each month, with the actual numbers reported by the printer to HP servers to charge for any extras.
According to author and electronic rights advocate Cory Doctorow, HP Instant Ink subscribers received an email last week that practically ended their “free printing for life” scheme. Instead of the monthly fee, which starts at $ 0.99, being applied to ink replacement, you will be paying for the ability to print anything. In short, no payment, no printing, regardless of ink levels.
HP has not yet updated its instant ink support pages, but the email indicates that the change will be implemented on December 26 this year. This monthly fee determines how many pages you are allowed to print each month, again regardless of ink levels, at an additional cost for an extra 10 pages. This will likely apply to all instant ink printers that consumers have purchased based on the expectation of the old service.
Although today we are used to subscription services, the idea that you have to pay a monthly fee to use an expensive product that you have already purchased is still strange and unsettling. HP will likely argue that it has always reserved the right to change the terms of its instant ink service as it sees fit, which is just as unnerving. Then again, this is not the first time that HP has done such questionable stunts and it may find itself again on the receiving end of collective action.