HP Inc’s Australian tentacle* will compensate Australian printer buyers for not disclosing that its products would not accept third-party ink supplies.
In a piece of language of which George Orwell would be proud, HP Inc called its competition-crimping code the “Dynamic Security Feature”. The company didn’t disclose that the software prevented third-party ink cartridges from working, either to customers who bought devices with it pre-installed or to those who acquired it in a firmware update.
The latter was discovered in 2016 and quickly saw the company apologise and back down.
However HP customers acquired the code, it saw OfficeJet inkjet printers either reject third-party ink cartridges or “produce an error message which indicated that the cartridge was damaged, when this was not the case.”
That last quote comes from Dr Michael Schaper, deputy chair of Australia’s competition and consumer commission (ACCC), the nation’s competition watchdog.
Schaper’s declared the regulator is “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,” he added.
HP Ink has therefore worked with the ACCC and undertaken to find buyers and give them AU$50 apiece if they were dudded by the Dynamic Security Feature's Dodgy Sales FUD.
HP Ink later fixed its firmware. Fixing its reputation down under may be harder: the company also ran afoul of Australian regulators for wrongly telling customers they were not entitled to repairs of broken PCs. The company was fined AU$3 million and forced to carry notification of its wrongdoing on its web site for a year.
This time, HP Inc will "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."
The company has also been in touch to say "We are pleased that HP Australia has reached a settlement with the ACCC. HP uses dynamic security in select printers (a) to protect the quality of the consumer experience from potential functionality risks that can be introduced using cartridges with cloned chips or modified or non-HP circuitry, (b) to protect HP’s intellectual property, and (c) to reduce counterfeiting of HP supplies and warranty fraud. HP Australia will continue using dynamic security in select printers in accordance with its settlement with the ACCC." ®
* HP PPS Australia Pty Ltd