The HP Technology Noose

So, I have an HP printer (still under warranty), nice little wireless unit that constantly requires reconnecting to the Internet, but I can handle this.


Yesterday, it stops working and gives me a differing set of messages and colored lights. If you get a solid amber light, the baby doesn’t work.

So, I work my magic that in the past has cracked the code and it doesn’t work.

I do it five times and finally admit defeat and call HP Support to the rescue. Takes a few minutes to present my bonafides, the serial number of the machine, the PIN, and other data.

Then I tell them the story.

So, what’s the back story, Big Red Car?

I tell them my story thusly:

 1. Printer doesn’t work.

 2. Solid amber light.

 3. Error codes keep changing — no driver, no ink, no Internet, some truly dire problem (solid amber light of death).

 4. I changed out the black ink, but sometimes it says it is empty.

 5. Had a paper jam in the back, but the paper wasn’t jammed, just stopped.

 6. I have re-connected their machine to my Internet multiple times — I use a mesh network off a 1Gig (fictional) Comcast/Infinity router.

So, what happens, Big Red Car?

I work through, literally, five levels of support — increasingly higher levels of competence and the ability to speak English.

When I get to #5, he (Billy) is a bloody wizard and takes over my computer from afar and works through a series of diagnostics.

I can barely follow what he is doing, but I get it. Machine gets a physical that includes a prostate exam.

Guy is a bloody genius, speaks great English, and is charming, but he’s not nearing a solution.

Bottom line from Billy: No bueno!

So, what happens next, Big Red Car?

So, in reviewed bullet points 1 – 6 above, I decide that the changing out of the ink is the critical act, the nexus of change, the crux of the matter, the heart of the matter. Pure intuition on my part.

Billy the Genius says, “Not bloody likely, mate.”

I’ve changed out the ink many times and I have new ink which I change out.

#5 says, “No, that’s not it. Let me think.”

He thinks about it for a while and says, “I’ve never seen a problem I can’t fix from afar.”

Just when we are about to give up — remember the unit is under warranty — I say, “I cancelled my Instant Ink contract because the ink never arrived on time.”

He, #5 says, “Look at the ink cartridges in the printer. Are they genuine HP ink or knock offs?”

“I bought them at Staples and I have the packaging intact. They are genuine HP ink.” I am actually wrong, they are Instant Ink cartridges that finally came that I had in inventory.

While we are talking, I take out the replaced cartridge and put back in the empty one (that did come from Staples).


So, what was it, Big Red Car?

Ahhh, dear reader, it was this:

 1. If you sign up for Instant Ink when you buy the unit, HP has a function that allows the printer to work whether you have Instant Ink or genuine HP ink you buy from Staples.

 2. If you cancel your Instant Ink subscription (which I did because the bloody ink never arrived on time), then you are punished thusly:

 a. Your Instant Ink cartridges no longer work. They bloody well lock you out of any Instant Ink inventory you may possess.

HP assumes that if you have Instant Ink cartridges with no Instant Ink subscription, they must be stolen.

 b. Genuine HP ink cartridges you buy at Staples will work, but only if both of them are genuine HP ink.

 c. Knock off ink is spotty. I read that it doesn’t work, but I can’t affirm or deny that because I didn’t use knock off ink.

Bottom line it, Big Red Car, lunch plans

Got it.

HP is not fooling around. If you cancel Instant Ink, then they assume that thereafter any Instant Ink you try to stick in their machine is stolen or counterfeit and there will be no soup for you.

Secret Agent #5 shared this: “Well, that’s a new one on me.”

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car headed to Staples to buy more ink.