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Would you pay a monthly tariff for prints?

Print button on printer

We’re used to paying monthly for minutes on a phone contract, but what about paying a monthly fee to print from your inkjet printer? That’s what HP proposes with its Instant Ink service…

Printer ink is expensive stuff – it’s not uncommon to pay upwards of £50 for a set of printer-branded inks. So if someone offered you 50 prints on your home printer for £1.99 a month, would you go for it?

That’s the proposition of HP’s Instant Ink service which works with a number of wi-fi printers in HP’s range.

What is Instant Ink?

With the Instant Ink service you sign up online and are debited an amount each month for a specified number of prints, depending on the plan you choose.

There are three printing plans. The cheapest at £1.99 a month lets you print 50 pages per month, or you can pay £3.49 a month for 100 pages or £7.99 a month for 300 pages.

It doesn’t matter what you print – photos, text or images – just how much you print. Any unprinted pages at the end of a month from your quota are rolled into the following month, but if you use up your page quota before the end of the month, the printer won’t print unless you pay a top up.

When ink cartridges run low, the printer uses wi-fi to communicate with HP and have new cartridges sent to you, so you never have to pay for, or go out and buy, new cartridges.

Is it good value for money?

The key question is ‘is it cheaper to sign up to monthly prints than to buy cartridges?’ and that very much depends on your printer, the ink you use and how much you print.

When we asked Which? members how much they print, the average was around 20 black text pages and 10 colour pages a month. Few people said they ever printed photos. So the average person wouldn’t reach the 50 page quota in a month.

In our tests, printing 30 pages over time, turning a printer off between uses, printers spend between £1.61 and £13.86 of ink, depending on how much ink the printer uses to clean itself when you leave time between prints. This makes the Instant Ink program look like good value on many printers. However, if all you ever do is print in black and white, and predominantly text (which doesn’t use a lot of ink on the page), printing costs are lower. And if you only print a few pages a month, paying a subscription could be very much like paying for more calls and data than you ever use on your mobile phone.

If you print a lot of colour pages or photos – the more expensive types of print in terms of the amount of ink they use – you could be quids-in with Instant Ink.

One thing is clear – a switch to paying for a set number of pages per month could see you becoming very precious about formatting before you print in order to fit as much as possible on a single page. Because even the tiniest dot of ink on a page printed on the Instant Ink service will leave you with one less page to print from your monthly quota.

Would you ever consider making the switch from cartridge shopping to signing up for prints?

Would you consider paying a monthly fee to print from your printer?

No (83%, 561 Votes)

Yes (11%, 73 Votes)

I don't know (6%, 39 Votes)

Total Voters: 673

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Comments
Guest
Wikileaks says:
4 February 2015

At least HP will continue to operate when only a black ( or for that matter just a colour) cartridge is installed, making it one of the few makes that can be truly a black and white printer and doesn’t mind its brother ( or sister ) is missing!

Guest

That’s interesting. In the days of the HP Deskjet 500 series, HP sometimes provided a storage container that could be used to store part-used ink cartridges without the in-built print head drying out.

Empty cartridges should be left in place if the print head is part of the printer. There is the danger of print heads blocking irretrievably if left for any length of time without ink in a cartridge. Obviously that is irrelevant if the printhead is part of the cartridge, like the old HPs. All the recent HPs I have seen have the printheads in the machine rather than the cartridge.

Guest
Wikileaks says:
4 February 2015

I mean a black and white inkjet printer.

Guest
Steve says:
12 January 2016

Can you do this for Canon printers?

Guest
Rob says:
13 June 2017

A word of warning about the HP Instant Ink scheme – look at their Facebook page which is full of enraged customers. I registered our new printer and clicked yes to instant ink thinking I might as well have the free four months worth of 300 pages a month. I did not realise that anything over 300 pages would be charged for, even if I put my own purchased cartridges in.
When you buy a printer it comes with a starter cartridge which soon runs out. The first proper instant ink cartridges arrive around 10 days after purchase. I ran out of ink on day 2, and needed to print out materials for a training course I was running. I spent £18 on a new black cartridge but this triggered ratty emails from HP warning me I would still incur page charges. So I have cancelled but as far as I can tell they are still planning to charge me £12 for ‘overage’ – even though I have only used the starter ink supply + the new cartridges I’ve bought. The creepy thing about the system is that the printer reports to HP every day about what you’ve printed, and they can remotely disable your printer – if you cancel instant ink you can no longer use the cartridges in your printer. I assume this means they can also disable the printer if you use non-HP cartridges.

Guest

Rob-I had a read of their “instant ink” literature , no flies on their sales departments some sales exec. must have got a bonus. Your absolutely right most people have no conception of what is programmed now into the firmware of printers , yes they now copy Microsoft exactly -phone home -constantly .They know the lot —use of ink , how many sheets you use , who you are all your computer hardware details , how often you use your computer and much more. So much more that the NSA is using them to spy on you -along with all other devices, I wont go into detail as some people take offense to it. As HP is now gone OTT I am considering posting a way for users who are blocked from third party inks by their machines non-functioning as their grasping attitude is annoying me . For those buying a new machine FIRST block any update programming in the INITIAL set up and block MS from updating it as well , beware of tricky wording !

Guest

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