The big business of consumer printer manufacturers is, as in many other markets, in the sale of spare parts, and in this particular case, of consumables. On many occasions we are surprised to find that the cost of a printer is just a little higher than that of a couple of ink cartridges sold by the same manufacturer, and it is not a business strategy by which brands offer hardware to very competitive price to make the product profitable throughout its useful life. In this approach, the arrival of third manufacturers with aggressive prices in consumables completely breaks the plans, and some brands have declared war playing on their own land: they annul the non-brand cartridges through software updates.
The Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF), the well-known non-profit organization that defends the rights of consumers of technology products in the United States, has remitted a letter to the Texas attorney general warning that Epson would have distributed software updates to its printers that would disable the third-party cartridges installed in them. In this press release, not only is the violation of consumer rights by the fact itself, but also by not having a clear communication of what would happen on the printer after the update.
The Epson is not an isolated case, and HP was involved in a similar controversy between 2016 and 2017 when another update left the home printers in dry dock with cartridges that were not original. In that case, the manufacturer was forced to apologize publicly for not having reported in detail about "the authentication procedures" after the update, and even took out a new patch to eliminate such blocking. A year later HP pulled out a new security update under the pretext of "improving the user experience" and denying that the update focused on blocking external cartridges.
"It's as if a car manufacturer demands that only tires from your home can be used
Can a manufacturer force a consumer to use their consumables? From FACUA strongly deny this point: "It would violate the consumer defense legislation as the defense of competition," explains EL PAÍS Ruben Sanchez, spokesman for the consumer organization. "It is as if a car manufacturer demands that only you can use tires from your home, it does not make any sense to do it except in a malicious way, "he explains." It's a trap, "Sanchez concludes.
In the meantime, a race has begun between users and manufacturers, the first to try to overcome barriers and use third-party cartridges. tricking the printer, and the second ones through successive 'security updates' that continue to disable the generic consumables.