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HP Nobbled Again By ACCC, This Time For Dodgy Printer Practises

Hewlett Packard who has a chequred history when it comes to misleading consumers has again been hit by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission this time for dodgy printer practises that resulted in users who wanted to use non HP made inks in their printers being nobbled.
An ACC investigation found that more 200,000 HP Australia customers who bought certain models of HP printers were not informed non-HP ink cartridges would not work in their printers.

Those customers could now be eligible for compensation, the ACCC announced today.

HP used a technology known as as “Dynamic Security Feature” (DSF), which was specifically designed by designed to prevent non-HP ink cartridges from being used in these HP printers.

HP has sold approximately 220,000 of these printers in Australia and a large number of them had DSF installed either before the time of purchase or subsequently when a firmware update made available by HP was downloaded by customers.

This is not the first time that HP has fallen foul of the ACCC and has been forced to compensate consumers.

Back in 2012 the ACCC instituted proceedings in the Federal Court in Sydney against Hewlett-Packard Australia for misleading and deceptive conduct.

The Federal Court later found them guilty and fined the Company $3 million for giving its overseas call-centre staff scripts designed to dud customers of their consumer rights.

In the second-largest penalty of its type, the Federal Court found HP made false or misleading representations by instructing its “help desk” workers to tell customers they had to shell out for repairs it should have paid for and by saying computers had to be repaired multiple times before a replacement was an option.

In their latest attempt to nobble consumers the ACCC found that in September 2016, some owners of HP OfficeJet inkjet printers who were using non-HP ink cartridges had those ink cartridges rejected, and in many cases, received an error message which indicated that the cartridge was damaged, when this was not the case.

“Consumers were not made aware of the restriction on using non-HP ink cartridges when buying the printer or downloading the firmware update, and were denied the choice to accept or reject it.” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.

“The ACCC was also 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,” Dr Schaper said.

HP has admitted that by not disclosing to consumers that these printers, or the firmware update, included technology preventing the use of certain non-HP ink cartridges, it was likely to have breached the Australian Consumer Law by engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct.

HP has undertaken to compensate consumers $50 who were prevented from using a non-HP cartridge. More than 2000 customers who used non-HP cartridges are likely to have been affected by the conduct, making total compensation for consumers over $100,000.

HP will also 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.

HP has since made available an automatic firmware update for download which removes the DSF from certain inkjet printer models and allows customers to use non-HP cartridges.

The undertaking is available at HP PPS Australia Pty Ltd .

Consumers can also contact HP via 1800 625 236 for more information.

Background

The ten HP inkjet printer models affected by the conduct are:

HP OfficeJet Pro 6230;
HP OfficeJet 6820;
HP OfficeJet Pro 6830;
HP OfficeJet Pro 8610;
HP OfficeJet Pro 8620;
HP OfficeJet Pro 8630;
HP OfficeJet Pro X551dw;
HP OfficeJet Pro X476dw MFP;
HP OfficeJet Pro X576dw MFP; and
HP OfficeJet Pro X451dw.
HP PPS Australia Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of US-based company HP Inc, which was incorporated in 2015, following the split of the Hewlett Packard Company into two entities: HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

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