/ Technology

Has a printer update rendered your cartridges redundant?

Printer software update

You fire up your PC, turn on your printer and send a file to print and then… ‘cartridge not recognised’. The printer won’t print. So what’s changed since yesterday? You may be the latest victim of a printer update.

Third-party ink cartridges are generally a fraction of the price of printer-branded inks, but we’ve heard reports of printer updates rendering these cartridges unusable.

We asked Which? members to share their printing problems and a number of them sounded like they related to software updates. However, with some printers set to automatically update, it can be hard to pin a specific problem to a specific update. Ian C told us:

‘I bought compatible inks. After a few weeks they suddenly stopped working, with a message saying they were incompatible. Replaced them with new ones but had the same problem.’

Tony G had a similar experience:

‘Lo and behold, my printer has started rejecting – that is, not printing when I use third-party cartridges – but when I then replace them with printer-branded ones it seems to work fine.’

We tried updating the firmware on three second-hand printers in our lab and the printers worked just as well with third-party ink before updating as they did afterwards. So updates won’t always stop your cartridges from being recognised.

HP printers rejecting ink cartridges

However, there have been some very recent victims. Just last week we heard a number of reports from members whose HP printers have stopped working with the third-party inks.

Mr White’s printer ink cartridges have been affected by the latest update:

‘I own an HP 3055A printer which uses the popular 301 cartridge, today I changed the cartridges and find that the printer will no longer print as it detects that a non-HP cartridge has been installed. A printer update was reported as being available from HP when I turned the printer on – on the 7 March – and I updated prior to installing the new cartridges. After installing the new cartridge the information screen on the printer showed the message “incompatible cartridge detected”.’

Rob Stone has also suffered at the hands of a recent update to his HP Officejet 6600 and said:

‘I’ve been using third-party inks with no issues for several months. It was when I accidentally ran an HP update from my PC that the problem occurred. The error message said “There is a problem with the printer ink or system. Turn printer off, then on. If problem persists, contact HP”. It prevents me from moving to any other menu on the printer.’

Your right to use third-party printer inks

As iPhone 6 users suffering at the hands of the ‘Error 53’ message know only too well, update issues aren’t only a problem for printers. But, fortunately for affected phone users, Apple released a fix.

It may not be quite so simple to roll back a printer update. We’ve previously spoken to printer manufacturers about software updates, with Brother, Canon and Epson telling us that reverting to a previous firmware version wasn’t usually possible at all. HP stood out from the crowd by saying that you could roll ball its updates, but it’s not an obvious or simple process.

In light of this latest glut of update issues, we’ve approached HP to find out what’s causing the problem and whether it’ll be possible for those affected to get their printers working with their inks again.

You absolutely should be able to choose to use third-party ink in your printer. The big consumer printer brands have all signed up to a voluntary agreement which includes a provision around not preventing third-party ink from being used in their printers.

If you’ve suffered a ‘printerruption’ as result of a printer software update – or which you suspect is as a result of a recent update – we want to hear about it.

Disenchanted says:
6 August 2017

When trying to rectify this problem, please do not fail to address also the fact that the printer manufactures are deliberately mis-stating the facts when they say that the ink is about to run out – as they do. This leads to perfectly usable cartridges being scrapped.

Pat Doody says:
19 August 2017

Epson XP 710. Up until today third party cartridges worked fine. Having installed two replacements cannot get anything to print. Tried everything including diabling print monitor. No joy… Feed up with Epson

ISITme? says:
26 August 2017

I have had 4 printers in 2 years all suffered from buying compatible cartridges. Somehow EPSON has got in the game and don,t know how but it is like they are BIG BROTHER looking over your shoulder, interrupting printing, saying not EPSON Inks taking over my pc and printer

Bob Nicholls says:
1 September 2017

Have used compatible cartridges from purchase of Epson printer, today replaced an empty for new and get a message ‘unrecognised cartridge’ – put an old empty ‘original’ cartridge in and got the message ‘low ink replace cartridge’ Not best pleased with this and the only explanation I can think has caused this is was an automatic printer firmware update from about a week ago.

Profile photo of duncan lucas

Your right Bob update caused it. – Warning to all Epson and other make owners — on installation – block any updates , on Windows block any printer updates . As there s an “arrangement” with MS+ printer manufacturers many updates now say – “security updates ” and are forced on Windows 10 Home.

Simon says:
3 September 2017

HP have messed my printer up totally with forced updates… any ideas what printer to use instead… i dont want to be foced to use their ink.

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Simon as of October last year the EFF -electronic frontier foundation contacted HP CEO to rescind their devious “update ” disguised as a “security update ” to date he has refused giving all sorts of excuses . Your best bet is an ink tank machine where you fill it yourself but they are expensive could be £200+ 8000 people have signed a petition to remove the blocking –so far no joy

Bill Matthews says:
4 September 2017

Your article says “you absolutely should be able to use compatible ink – manufacturers have signed up to a voluntary agreement”
Are you doing enough to hold them to account?

Profile photo of duncan lucas

“Should be able to” doesn’t imply– guaranteed to Bill but I am sympathetic to your point . Typically companies “speak with forked tongue ” they have reigned on their “promises ” in the face of Profit. It makes trusting companies advertising comments look foolish. Just like– the English Health Service is “safe ” in our hands while slyly privatising it ( in stages ).