A proposed class action lawsuit filed this week claims certain HP all-in-one printers do not work as advertised in that their scanning and faxing functionalities cannot be used when the ink level is too low.
According to the 32-page case, HP’s ink-jet all-in-one printers are advertised as multifunctional devices that can print, copy, scan and, with some models, even fax documents. What HP fails to disclose in its marketing materials—and what consumers come to find out only after buying a printer—is that the supposedly all-in-one devices will not scan or fax documents when even one of their ink cartridges is low or empty, the suit alleges.
As the case points out, it is “well-documented” that ink is not required when scanning or faxing a document and “certainly possible” to manufacture a printer that scans and faxes even when it’s out of ink.
The lawsuit alleges, however, that defendant HP, Inc. intentionally designed its all-in-one printers to become completely disabled when the ink is low to induce customers into purchasing more ink cartridges.
“HP’s intent is clear, namely, to have their multi-function devices revert to an inoperable ‘error state’ so that a large subset of those multi-function device purchasers will purchase additional overpriced and unnecessary ink cartridges in order to be able to scan and to fax documents,” the complaint contends. “The end goal is to increase the sales of one HP’s [sic] largest profit makers, ink cartridges, by any and all means.”
Failure by design?
As the case tells it, printer ink—which is allegedly more expensive per ounce than silver, caviar and champagne—is the bread and butter of the retail printer industry. Manufacturers like HP are even willing to sell their printers at a loss knowing that those purchases will lead to “billions of dollars in ink sales,” the suit says.
It’s for this reason, according to the complaint, that HP intentionally links the scanning and faxing capabilities—which, critically, don’t require ink—to a printer’s ink levels such that the devices become disabled when running low on ink.
“There is no legitimate purpose for selling the All-In-One Printers with scanning or faxing functionality that is directly tied to the existence or level of ink contained in the devices,” the complaint contends. “Ink is not needed for scanning or faxing functionality nor does ink improve scanning or faxing performance. Tying the scan or fax capabilities of the All-In-One Printers to ink contained in the devices offers no benefit, and only serves to disadvantage and harm consumers financially.”
While consumers are forced to buy replacement ink cartridges to use the advertised functionalities of their printers, HP rakes in the profits, the case alleges, noting that each ink cartridge for the company’s all-in-one printers costs roughly $30.
Importantly, the case says, HP never discloses the printers’ “intentional design flaw” to consumers. Indeed, the lawsuit alleges, consumers purchase the so-called all-in-one devices based on HP’s representations that they will be able to use the printers to also scan and fax documents. Only after purchasing the machines do buyers find out that they must make “additional and superfluous ink purchases” or be unable to use the printers as advertised, the suit says.
All told, the lawsuit claims that HP’s all-in-one printers “do not work as warranted, labeled and advertised” and that consumers would not have purchased the devices, or would have paid less for them, had they known they would be required to maintain ink levels to scan and fax documents.
Which HP printers are mentioned in the lawsuit?
The lawsuit claims the following HP printers are falsely advertised:
HP Deskjet 2755e;
HP DeskJet 3755;
HP DeskJet 4155e;
HP ENVY 6055e;
HP ENVY 6075;
HP ENVY 6455e;
HP ENVY Pro 6475;
HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile;
HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 Wide Format;
HP OfficeJet Pro 8025;
HP DeskJet 2622; and
HP DeskJet 2655.
I have one of those printers. Am I covered?
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone who purchased one of the HP all-in-one printers mentioned on this page in the United States for personal/household use anytime within the applicable statute of limitations.
How do I join the lawsuit?
There’s usually nothing you need to do to join or be considered part of a class action when it’s first filed. The time to take action would be if and when the case settles. At that point, those covered by the lawsuit, i.e., the class members, should receive notice of the settlement with instructions on how to file a claim for their share.
In the meantime—and the class action process can take quite a long time—one of the best things you can do is to stay informed.
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