Obviously, HP Thinks We Are Stupid

HP explains why printer ink is so expensive – that’s the headline of several posts and articles around the net right now. HP seems to have launched a PR campaign for original ink cartridges, and the press is cooperating nicely.

Personally, I wouldn’t touch an HP product with a 10 foot stick, but many people succumb to the cheap prices. Still, when you buy a cheap ink-jet printer, the printer’s cost itself is misleading. Why? Because as we all know, pretty soon you’d have spent much more on ink cartridges. There are some ridiculous cases in which it’s actually cheaper to buy a new printer!

Trying to justify the unreasonable prices of ink cartridges, HP released this campaign that blabs about the cost of research, quality of ink and reliability. They have even tested a focus group made out of 17 (!!!) people, and most of them said they are not happy with replacement ink.

When talking about regular, cheap, home-use printers, the claims about ink quality are pointless. It doesn’t make any sense to pay $25 for an ink cartridge, just to print some recipes and simple documents. Professional and business users might be a different story, but small businesses also need to mind their expenses, and ink prices are simply too high.

(This graph has been around the net for a while. It’s probably not 100% accurate, but it goes to show a point)

The fact remains that replacement or recycled ink cartridges cost about half as much as original ink cartridges. HP and other companies also won’t disclose the actual amount of printer ink that we get in each cartridge. Why is that, do you think? HP says: “Each system has a different way it uses ink or the drop size is different. If you looked strictly at volume you wouldn’t see those differences and it would be confusing to the customers.” Sure. The customers are stupid, so let’s not confuse them with DATA.

Have you ever opened an “empty” ink cartridge? It’s amazing to see that even when the printer reports that the cartridge is empty, it still has many milliliters of ink left inside, yet all that ink is unusable. All that money spent on research, and HP and the other companies can’t produce better ink delivery systems?

Plus, all the bullshit about cost-per-page is calculated in weird ways, that no one but the companies themselves understands.

The prices of printers and other electronic products are constantly dropping, so the companies need to make a buck in other ways. And they do make that buck: HP spends $1 billion a year on ink research and development, while the total revenue for the printing division alone was $24 billion last year. It’s not about quality, research or technology. It’s about greed.

Be Sociable, Share!

    46 Responses to “Obviously, HP Thinks We Are Stupid”

    1. Iñigo says:

      I always thought that printer in was much more expensive than Chanel #5 but It’s not true:

      Channel #5 sells for about $1 / ml vs $0.80/ml for HP Black Ink.. in the US.

    2. […] full post on Hacker News If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it! Tagged with: Obviously […]

    3. cak says:

      Blame the users. There were companies that did not produce rip-off printers, but they were a more expensive upfront cost, so users did not buy them, and they had to change the way they operated. Now all printer companies have to do this, or they go out of business. All thanks to stupid users who can’t look further ahead than one purchase.

      • ty says:

        Blame the users that’s really insightful.
        /rollseyes

        • staticvars says:

          It is accurate though, people don’t calculate TCO, so reasonably priced printers didn’t sell. I have a metered lease deal that includes ink.

        • otakucode says:

          Yes, it IS helpful. If the users would get blamed more for being stupid, maybe they would start to put some thought into their actions. If they had bothered to THINK before making their choice, then we wouldn’t be in this situation. It is entirely their fault.

          Companies do that which is profitable. Consumers determine what is profitable. When consumers make hurting consumers profitable, then the consumers are at fault.

          People should really start being more ashamed of how thoughtless and ignorant they are. Taking pride in understanding almost nothing, of being completely uninformed about anything of worth, and of being so lazy as to not be willing to do 30 seconds of mental math is positively disgusting and society needs to go back to hammering these people and blaming them for their own conscious actions.

          • smoot says:

            Yes of course, the average user who may use a set of cartridges every 6 months should have gone for a more expensive printer….

        • Sami says:

          Those companies could simply have advertised that their product was cheaper in the long run…

    4. Worse thing, they do this now with LASERJETS in the above $500 category.

      Always stayed away from Inkjets because of the Gilette model, I recently had to replace a LaserJet.

      Now the new one just stops after 1000 pages and doesn’t print any more pages, claiming toner is empty (but text was still very black). Not a warning, it refuses to print anything – even test pages!

      After swearing and trying to get toner on a sunday afternoon, I googled a solution: There is a menu option deep inside which lets you override this – after that it printed another 500 pages and text is still wonderfully black.

      Learning: HP added the Gilette model recently to Laser Jet printers- not only cheap Inkjets

      Best
      Stephan
      http://codemonkeyism.com

      • Roy says:

        Your toner cartridge was probably empty, but there is also a developer which takes the toner from the cartridge and supplies it to the drum, Its likely that you are now running on toner from the dev.

    5. Dark-Star says:

      cak, stole the words from my mouth.

      Greedy companies and ivory-tower weasels will always be with us…but we did NOT use to have a userbase that fell for ridiculous scams like this.

      Unfortunately that was back when there was some real sort of intellectual barrier to being a computer user; the effect was a bit like how old-timers panned for gold. Now that computers are accessible to everyone, even complete idiots, it’s a whole new ballgame. (those in tech support will know EXACTLY what I’m talking about)

      • otakucode says:

        There has also been a large shift in the attitudes of society at large. It used to be a shameful thing to be ignorant. If you didn’t know something, you kept quiet in hopes of learning and being able to participate in the conversation in some meaningful way. Today, people BRAG about the fact that they don’t read, that they have no idea how to use their computer, that they follow their gut instead of listening to reason. This causes innumerable problems in society. It used to be a self-correcting issue. People that were willfully and obstinately proud of their ignorance would soon find themselves dead from a bad decision. Today, though, they will be sheltered and protected for their entire life by people more rational and charitable than themselves.

        Being a diligent intellectual, keeping a cool head and being objective, standing back and making a cool-headed decision or having a unique rational insight used to be a treasured virtue by society. As well it should be, it is the only thing that has ever advanced civilization. But today, parents teach their children to avoid intellectualism as a character flaw. Even our entertainment carries constant messages about how people who learn too much, think too much, use big words, or try to be objective always hurt people, are uncaring robots, and always have to be rescued by the guy with a gun and big muscles who will ignore all that fancy reason clap-trap that just gets in the way of the real way to find the truth – intuition! When this comes back to bite society in the ass, it’s going to be very, very unpretty. We’re starting to see some of it with the criminally negligent parents who withhold vaccines from their children because they trust a celebrity or their intuition more than they trust decades of science and hundreds of millions of saved lives. Hopefully when their children die in their arms, people will start to realize what is at stake and start engaging their rational faculties.

    6. anon says:

      I worked on financial analysis for HP Inkjet. A color cartridge was introduced to sell at $34.95, and was very profitable — as it needed to be given very high R&D and manufacturing startup costs (this is a true statement by HP). That cartridge now sells for about $55 in Costco, and is used in vastly more printers than what we assumed in the $34.95 analysis. Higher printer installed base volumes always means A LOT more profit. God only knows what they are making with a much larger installed base for this cartridge, and a list price more than 50% higher that the initial financials. HP Inkjet started going downhill when the Inkjet component group was merged into the printer group, with everything run by VJ. Those groups really needed to be kept separate because of different market incentives. Also, there was a lot of milking of Injket during Carly’s reign when Inkjet Components was delivering all of HP’s profits. Carly killed off some incredibly important R&D work that was being done to extend Inkjet Component technologies into other markets such as medicine. Partly this was to further increase profit, and partly because of the move toward Compaq purchase, i.e. the external vs. internal growth fight she had with Hewlett (note I am completely speculating re: motivations here). This was the truly great cost to society — not the cost of ink. The Inkjet components groups had incredible engineers, really, really incredible, and some equally incredible plans for the technology for things like FIGHTING CANCER. This all went away. The great engineering leads left HP. HP bought Compaq, and Bill Hewlett lost his battle with Carly. If only shareholders really knew what Carly killed off — but it was all ‘secret R&D’ so kept out of the arguments. I look at the $55 cartridge now, and sometimes feel like crying — but not because of the expensive ink.

    7. chris says:

      so… we see that you don’t like what HP’s offering, but what’s the alternative?

      i mean, is there a printer manufacturer that DOESN’T do this? or are they all more-or-less in the same boat?

      • The Shark Lady says:

        HP isn’t the only one that’s overpricing ink cartridges, but they were the one to launch this annoying “informative” campaign. So, in this particular moment in time, they are the center of attention.

      • Sam Watkins says:

        IIRC Kyocera makes printers with a low total cost of ownership / environmentally friendly, etc. You can also buy ink kits where you sit a big bottle of cheap ink beside your printer, it is attached by tubes to the printer, I guess that works pretty well and it’s vastly cheaper.

      • Buk says:

        Get a Kodak printer. Black ink – $9.95 and Color ink – $14.95.
        The cartridges seem to last longer than my old printer (Canon). I used to buy a new printer every time I ran out of ink. Had about a half dozen printers out in the garage. Nothing wrong with any of them, they just needed new ink cartridges. I donated them all to Goodwill and took a tax write off.
        I see more and more products using the “inkjet model: to sell their products. They initial sale is pretty cheap then they nail you keeping the product supplied with the necessary operating materials. Wouldn’t surprise me if someday Eveready gives away flashlights and then sells you the batteries at $25 each.

    8. I.N.K.Black says:

      Pah. You all love your $100 printers, which in reality cost $200 dollars to make. How else do you think they are going to make a profit?

    9. Dave says:

      This is why I’ve been buying my ink from http://www.swiftink.com for several years. The savings is huge, and the quality is just as good as the HP-brand.

    10. @Stephan – I did the same thing. After disabling that “feature,” I get months of additional printing before I truly need to put in a new cartridge.

    11. Ravi Chhabra says:

      I don’t think the graph is fair. Human blood is cheaper because it’s subsidized by donation, cheaper cost of testing, storage and other incentives. Penicillin is royalty free now and anyone is free to make them without paying for R&D cost. Now what’s really interesting in that graph is that Bottled Water cost more than Crude Oil, not that HP Ink is more expensive that the two.

    12. Jon says:

      Please note that not “most” of the focus group were unhappy – it was “about half,” according to the original article.

    13. […] And this enlightening blog post: Obviously HP thinks we are stupid […]

    14. Kodaky says:

      I’ve had no problem with Kodak ink. Got a 5100 printer on Woot a couple years ago and their ink is as cheap as dirt comparatively. Still I remember my old laserjet from the early 90’s. The cartridges for it had POUNDS of ink in them from what I recall.

    15. james says:

      Your argument is stupid. You show no evidence for HP ink being overpriced–comparing to other items via mL is ridiculous. Under no circumstances is 1 mL of gasoline, soft drink, blood useful. I’m sure the price of HP ink to patented or illicit liquid drugs would show HP ink to be fairly cheap in comparison.

      At the very least you should base your argument on comparisons with other printing methods, or the price of ink in other capacities (pen ink, marker ink). You claim that HP isn’t using all the ink in cartridges, deliberately, rather than as a consequence of engineering constraints of producing high quality pictures. Show evidence that other ink cartridge designs use more of the ink and maybe I’ll buy your argument.

      I’m not saying that HP doesn’t do price gouging by possibly subsidizing printer sales via expensive cartridges, but you have shown no evidence for it.

    16. Ryan says:

      “It’s about greed”

      HP is a business. Their job is to make money. They will charge what the market will bear.

      I got fed up with high ink prices long ago and switched to a laser printer. You can get them for under $100 and the toner cartridges last a long time and don’t gum up like ink cartridges do if you don’t use them.

      I also refilled my own ink cartridges for a while before switching to laser. There are lots of options.

      • The Shark Lady says:

        True. From HP’s official site (http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/corpobj.html):

        “Profit – We achieve sufficient profit to finance growth, create value for our shareholders and achieve our corporate objectives.”

        However, there’s also:
        “Passion for customers – We put our customers first in everything we do.

        Uncompromising integrity – We are open, honest and direct in our dealings.”

        I have a laser printer myself. That’s not my point.

        The annoying thing here is that HP is trying to justify ripping off the customers with elaborate studies and bogus focus groups. Plus, the press is totally recruited and nods on everything HP says without criticism. I think it IS greed and manipulation, and I am glad I have this little blog to say my piece.

    17. Carl Lumma says:

      Here’s a solution for you: don’t buy an inkjet printer. Duh.

    18. […] Obviously, HP Thinks We Are Stupid | Shark Lady Tech […]

    19. Christophe T. says:

      Just wanted to add – not only the HP ink sucks – I personally think that the SW for those low cost printers is even worse — those packages of bloat that infects my computer – useless functions & features – and the way they build their SW to hide all functions to print with less ink … ok I had to get that of my chest ! Feels better now !

    20. Tim says:

      Please read the following information on “Loss Leader”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_leader

      Like others have mentioned, they are just trying to sell the initial printer cheaper to get the sale while recovering the lost money via ink.

      Nothing really new here.

      • SSA says:

        Some of the lower end inkjets I am fairly confident are sold at a loss. The margins are so huge that once they sell a single OEM cartridge they have probably covered most of their loss on the printer. The printer vendors found that the razor blade model has worked well for them and most consumers I wager really don’t want to buy an unsubsidized printer.

    21. cron says:

      “Pah. You all love your $100 printers, which in reality cost $200 dollars to make. How else do you think they are going to make a profit?”

      Yes, you can look at it that way. But consumers see this as nickle-and-diming. It makes your customers feel cheated. Consumers feel the same with the “hidden” costs of air travel. Also, do you remember BestBuy mail in rebates? It took months of phone calls and I still never got my $50 mail in rebate – for a printer no-less! In the end I stopped buying from BestBuy. I also don’t use a printer at home anymore and I don’t know many people who still do.

    22. klh says:

      I have a HP Laserjet which I paid $300 for. It has four toner carts. To replace them all would cost $80 per cart. You do the math.

    23. SSA says:

      I hate to agree with HP here, but I don’t think that the number of mL is the right piece of information.

      Despite using the key terms “Technology, Internet, Gadgets and Geeks” at the top of your page you don’t seem like much of a geek if you aren’t aware that there is an ISO standard for page yields and HP at least they claim has been using said standard ISO 24711.

      If I am going to compare the price per page I am going to go find out what the ISO yields are and divide the cost by the yield. ISO yields aren’t perfect because they don’t consider drying of the cartridge, but they give a better idea than comparing the number of mL do since different inkjet printers can be more or less efficient with ink by a factor of 2 or more.

      If your article found that HP was dramatically overstating their yield claims that would be news, but saying that OEM ink is expensive, which is virtually all your post says is old news.

      Congrats though on getting lots of gullible people, myself included, who thought your post my be informative as opposed to merely a cliche rant to visit your page. The ad views from Reddit have to awesome.

    24. Diem says:

      -“The customers are stupid, so let’s not confuse them with DATA.” Simply… marvelous!

    25. Bast Hotep says:

      “It doesn’t make any sense to pay $25 for an ink cartridge, just to print some recipes and simple documents.”

      That’s perfectly correct, and precisely why I bought a Samsung laser printer two years ago for $50. I buy laser toner in bulk and pour it into the cartridge when it’s empty. In those two years I have gone through 2 1/2 cases of paper (5000 sheets/case) and spent $35 additional on toner.

    26. […] I have a couple printers that cost less than the cost of replacing the ink cartridges. This seems to be some sort of business strategy. […]

    27. […] הפוסט הזה כתבתי אתמול, בשינויים קלים, בבלוג The Shark Lady Tech. היו לי ימים של אלפי כניסות לבלוג הזה, אבל אתמול נשברו […]

    28. jack says:

      i will never buy a hp or samsung product ever again.

    29. Scott says:

      So true. I’m holding a practically “new -out-of box COLOR cartridge” – I often use their “fast draft” mode to save (on their, according to your handy graph), nearly PRICELESS meager ink – I can FEEL the weight of ALL the ink still it in there. It just “timed out!” It is programmed to BREAK after their absurdly too soon expiration dates.

      Since the electrical internal date stamp tells it “break” since even though I bought them new just a few months ago, the cartridges have an expiration date of long ago. So now I can expect to get half the use of literally HUNDREDS of dollars of INK bought recently!

      The printer won’t even LET ME print when IT decides “oh… you’re out of ink now.” It doesn’t even TRY. At least the old ones TRIED.

      What amazes me is that these “engineering wonders” can’t have a warranty longer than a two years, when I received them they were nearly already past their expiration. The FINE PRINT says “limited warranty expires six months after the install date.” Thus my May 2009 cartridges sealed in airtight plastic with a cover over the ink jets will just “break” if I don’t use as much color ink as possible in the precious three months I have (or less according to the wording) after the install date.
      That would make one “mad as h*ll and not want to take it anymore.” I figured I was doing them a favor upgrading to their new printer. It turns out I was better off with their old clunkier system. (Still a ripoff but not with such OBVIOUSLY BLATANT “ENGINEERED IN” PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE! Grrrrr.

      I can see all 3 primary colors coming out of the jets when pressed to paper. I have not played with the contacts it just decided to stop working. What a wasted. I could have printed on full color since now what is a perfectly good cartridge has literally “broken itself.”

      A POX on HP. Yep, hook us on your printers and hook us on your overpriced in like junkies in need of an ink FIX (pun intended because THEY decide when the ink is “broken”.)

      They make nice computers but, sheesh, doesn’t it occur to marketing that we’d likely buy MORE ink and use MORE ink (out of out of PURE convenience) to PRINT more if it the price of ink wasn’t so close dang high? I’d rather drive to a store than use their overpriced ink for a picture. I try to conserve color. You can print a couple of 8 x10s with JET INK for FAR MORE $$$ than the cost of real photographic prints made with expensive chemicals not just magnetic colored water!

      Yep, that’s it is pure greed.

      I will be looking at other brands once that expensive ink (I spent a lot of SCHOOL $ on a VERY few cartridges.) is all used up. At this rate that should only be a month or two more and I will have a LOT of ink sloshing in outdated cartridges. What a waste, they have their $$$ and I don’t even GET the INK for which I already paid so DEARLY – funny my money has no expiration date but their “high tech” cartridges can’t be built to be dependable for longer than just a year or two????? Oh, the printer can stand up for years and years but not their little tiny cartridges? That is absurd! It is wasting the school’s and the teacher’s and other individual’s $$$$ while H.P. laughs all the way to the bank!

    30. Scott says:

      So true. I’m holding a practically “new -out-of box COLOR cartridge” – I often use their “fast draft” mode to save (on their, according to your handy graph), nearly PRICELESS meager ink – I can FEEL the weight of ALL the ink still it in there. It just “timed out!” It is programmed to BREAK after their absurdly too soon expiration dates.

      Since the electrical internal date stamp tells it “break” since even though I bought them new just a few months ago, the cartridges have an expiration date of about one year ago (as of this posting). So now I can expect to get half the use (if I’m lucky) of literally HUNDREDS of dollars of INK bought recently!

      The printer won’t even LET ME print when IT decides “oh… you’re out of ink now.” It doesn’t even TRY. At least the old ones TRIED. I should google a solution but I’m betting there is no way they’d engineer an override for this cash cow!

      What amazes me is that these “engineering wonder cartridges” can’t have a warranty longer than a two years! (Sealed hermetically with the jets covered safely) when I received them they were nearly already past their expiration. The FINE PRINT says “limited warranty expires six months after the install date.” Thus my May 2009 airtight sealed ink cartridges will decided to “break” if I don’t use as much color ink as possible in the precious three months I have (or less according to the wording) after the install date.
      That would make one “mad as h*ll and not want to take it anymore.” I figured I was doing them a favor upgrading to their new printer. It turns out I was better off with their old clunkier system. (Still a ripoff but not with such OBVIOUSLY BLATANT PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE! Sheesh! I had no choice of printer, the school chose for me. I spend my OWN money often on the ink.

      I can see all 3 primary colors coming out of the jets when pressed to paper. I have not played with the contacts it just decided to stop working. What a waste. I could have printed on full color since now what is a perfectly good cartridge has literally “broken itself.”

      A POX on HP. Yep, hook us on your printers and hook us on your overpriced ink like junkies in need of an ink FIX (pun intended because THEY decide when the ink is “broken”.)

      They make nice computers but, sheesh, doesn’t it occur to marketing that we’d likely buy MORE ink and use MORE ink (out of out of PURE convenience) to PRINT more if it the price of ink wasn’t so close dang high? I’d rather drive to a store for old technology photographic PRINTS than use their overpriced ink to PRINT a picture (the former is more stable and looks better). I try to conserve color. You can print a couple of 8 x10s with JET INK for FAR MORE $$$ than the cost of real photographic prints made with expensive chemicals not just magnetic colored water!

      Yep, that’s it is pure greed.

      I will be looking at other brands once that expensive ink (I spent a lot of SCHOOL $ on a VERY few cartridges.) is all used up. At this rate that should only be a month or two more and I will have a LOT of ink sloshing in outdated cartridges. What a waste! H.P. gets their $$$ and I don’t even GET the INK for which I already paid so DEARLY. My money has no expiration date but their “high tech” cartridges can’t be built to be dependable for longer than just a year or two?????
      Oh, the PRINTER can stand up for 4 or 5 years but not their little tiny cartridges? That is absurd! It is wasting the taxpayer $$$$ while H.P. laughs all the way to the bank! Then when I read the post about ditched the R&D on cancer I realized how evil greed can be.
      Finally there are very few printer choices that don’t follow the “disposable”/ recyclable (often junk!) cartridges. I bought a few “guaranteed” refilled types and found that sometimes they work but often they don’t! Yes I should send them back but they’re hoping it’s too much bother which it is if you figure the cost of your time and shipping.
      Meanwhile they happily ask you to send them back for refills. If they’re so dang fragile how can they be so EASILY refilled? Oh yes, they just put in more ink and reset the time stamp chip! (hopefully they never got clogged as many actually are after purchased.)
      Yes, we’re foolish to buy cheap printers but they don’t have to charge nearly so much for a bit of high tech plastic and so little ink. Why not knock off $25.00 and you’ll STILL make a profit in the long run. Oh, right but not AS MUCH. Gotta serve that great deity….PROFIT. (Oh… it’s for the *shareholders*… many of which own half the company.)

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>