/ 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.

Lori says:
8 March 2019

I was a die hard Epson fan for many years until two of my Epson xp printers, locked down and out due to using 3ard party ink cartridges . One was only 2 years old. I threw them in the trash.

no longer an epson fan

Alan Moorhouse says:
16 June 2019

I have just been “caught” using a third party cartridge. The black (third party) was working fine until I tried to install the colour cartridges. I had taken the precaution of not accepting “updates” (which are in fact spyware) but somehow the company has gained access and simply cut off my driver stating that the cartridges are “incompatible”. I don’t know how they hacked my computer, but I did meet a software engineer who admitted writing software to do this.

June Ward says:
11 March 2019

I have two printer, both Epson, and both have suddenly stopped accepting comparable cartridges. If Epson made and sold their cartridges at a reasonable price then customers would buy them, but no they concentrate 9nly on profit and the hell with 5he customers. They have no business dictating what owners of printers should or should not be using. Its called competition. This MUST be against Consumer Rights.

Sometimes the problem can be a faulty cartridge or one that has not been inserted properly, but having the problem with two printers strongly suggests a real problem, and the other recent comments about Epson printers provides further evidence.

It would be good if Which? would look into this issue again.

June Ward says:
17 May 2019

I tried two new sets of compatable cartridges in both machines, which stopped printing around the same time, and they just won’t accept them. This is a monopoly and is against consumer rights.

I’ve even met one lady now whose printer won’t even accept genuine OEM ink, falsely accusing it of being third party ink. I cannot remember the printer make in question but it was one of Canon / Epson / HP.

Thankfully, she was able to get her documents printed in Gloucester Library and she was content to pay the fee of 10p per b&w A4 page.

Malcolm Collins says:
12 March 2019

Hi I have an Epson WF-2750 printer which all of a sudden comes up with “cannot recognise printer cartridge” I have used 3rd party incs for 2 years with no issue now I have this problem what do i do now as the printer is just over a year old.

DerekP says:
13 March 2019

Malcolm, I think the simplest option is for you to only use genuine Epson Ink from now on.

I guess that’s what Epson wants you to do and why it has updated your printer’s firmware to make all other options difficult for you.

These actions do seem to be creating a market for 3rd party firmware, for example see:


The suppliers of 3rd party ink may also be able to offer some useful advice here.

Using manufacturer’s ink would be the easiest option for most people, but that’s condoning an anti-competitive practice that has been used by manufacturers. In the introduction to this Convo we are told: “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.” We don’t need voluntary agreements but prompt action that results in legal action against manufacturers that have forced some customers to buy overpriced ink and others to scrap printers that have been rendered unable to use third party ink. The Competition and Markets Authority should have dealt with this problem years ago.

Thanks for the link, Derek.

DerekP says:
13 March 2019

I last bought an Epson printer ten years ago. Even back then, I had problems with 3rd party inks, so it wasn’t long before I took that printer out of service and carried on using my older Canon MP 750. I use generic refill kits to recharge my Canon’s ink cartridges and I probably won’t ever buy another Epson product.

I don’t have a problem with my HP printers and you don’t have a problem with your Canon, but there are examples of their printers failing to work with these and other brands in this Conversation, and plenty elsewhere.

At one time third party cartridges or ink usually produced inferior results but they have improved, so I have no intention on wasting money buying original cartridges.

Marie-Antoinette says:
22 March 2019

I had an Epson WF-7620 which I paid $299.99two years ago. After the latest update, it stopped printing and kept giving me an 0x97 error. I have tried everything and could not get it to work. I even bought Epson ink and it continues to display the error. I recently gave it to Goodwill.

Dave says:
8 June 2019

Could be that the ink overflow pads needed cleaning. Printer has a built-in counter that halts printing when reaching a certain figure, and you have to take pads out and clean them and reset counter. Can’t be sure but it sounds very much like the problem I had.

Barbara says:
16 April 2019

I have an Epson XP-830 and have been happily using other manufacturers ink cartridges for over 2 years. Yesterday I allowed a firmware update and suddenly cannot use a replacement cartridge. NEVER allow firmware updates on these things! I’ve tried to roll back the firmware using instructions found online but it’s not working. Still trying. It appears a set of Epson cartridges is around £100 – they have got to be joking.

Andres Crespo from London says:
26 April 2019

I used to have a working Canon Prixma MG4250 with third-party cartridges until I had a driver update. New error code 1485, inappropriate ink cartridge. I have tried all those solutions given by well-intentioned users/professionals on the Internet. Nothing works. I don’t think Canon has the legal right to do this. What annoys me most is that I don’t get access to the scanner which I used frequently. Why does that stop working if I chose a different ink supplier? I am mortified that there are so many users frustrated. If I have to buy another printer (as a new ink cartridge costs more or at least the same as a new printer that comes with ink), IS THERE A LIST OF PRINTERS THAT WILL ACCEPT THIRD-PARTY CARTRIDGES?

Thanks in advance for any info you can share,

Hi Andres, as regards a list of brand new printers that will accept 3rd party ink, I fear that the list may not contain any printers at all.

My old, former Which? Best Buy, Pixma MP 750 does still accept 3rd part ink, which I feed it via DIY ink refill kits.

In olden days, printers wouldn’t necessarily be on the ‘net and certainly didn’t have wifi. But, for modern printers, the need to keep those functions secure triggers the need for firmware updates.

Marc Gold says:
29 April 2019

HP have just released a firmware update 1912A to the OfficeJet Pro printer range which blocks the use of 3rd Party cartridges (Again!!). They state that rollback was not possible and all i can do is a reset on the printer and this may work. However, after reseting the printer it is now asking for setup cartridges and wont accept the originals I just spent £110 on. I now have an expensive and very large BRICK!

I have an oldish HP inkjet printer C6180 on Windows 7. When I reinstalled the operating system, I didn’t get around to reinstalling the HP software and drivers, so Microsoft installed drivers instead.

I have just checked the drivers and they are dated 2006!!! Not sure if I should be pleased the printer still works or reprimand myself for not keeping the drivers up to date although I do have a sort of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to computer peripherals when they get older..

Anyway, Microsoft doesn’t seem to update the drivers and the printer works on 3rd party cartridges.

Assuming you are using Microsoft, in your position I would probably remove the HP software and let Microsoft do its best/worst at installing drivers.

Stephen Bishop says:
3 May 2019

I own a small company and we have HP and Brother printers BOTH of which have run into this problem all of a sudden.

PQC says:
20 May 2019

Same problem here. Epson XP-760, had for years. Using third party ink for last 2 years no problems and no blocked ink jets. (previously only used Epson ink in 3 previous printers, all ended up blocked with ink and binned!) No printing randomly prints ok, then same pictures corrupts and spools out many pages of rubbish. Won’t be buying anything Epson again. Too greedy!! Shame we don’t have Class action’s in UK

Ron says:
21 May 2019

I have an HP 6558 printer and a cabinet full of 3rd party ink. I updated my printer not knowing it would lock me out of using third party ink. This is like Ford saying I can only use gas from their station (if they had one). This really irritates me. I have been a long time HP user (computers, printers, laptops and whatever else they make) NO MORE!!!! Good bye HP>

dr.palmer@icloud.com says:
24 May 2019

Start Rant:

I’ve always have been a protagonist about HP printers.
I’ve had a desktop mono laser for at least 10,000 pages with no problems.
I’ve had a 36”DesignJet color ink jet, again no problems
I have a HP 6975 AIO, which has been a great machine.
I have been using 3rd party ink in this machine with no problems.

Until now…

I received notice of a firmware update a couple of months ago which I installed.
I use 902 ink in this machine.
I bought the usual Guaranteed To Work Ink.
Did not work!
Sent this ink back.
Bought another brand of Guaranteed To Work Ink.
This one didn’t work either!
Went to Sams and bought their brand of Guaranteed To Work Ink.
Another failure!

A couple of months ago I received a firmware update for my 6975 printer.
Since then no 3rd party ink that I bought works in it.

HP has done the No 3rd Party Ink update once before and later reversed the update.

Conclusion: Buy HP high $ Ink or Buy another printer.
I bought a Brother Color Laser, the HP is on the floor now.

End of Rant

@abbysempleskipper Hi Abby – Would it be possible to get Which? to have a look at this problem again? According to this page, problems are not common: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/printers-and-ink/article/best-cheap-printer-ink/best-cheap-ink-cartridges

There are are plenty of reports of problems in this and other Convos, and I’ve certainly met people who have had a problem.

The page mentioned gives this advice: “Update your printer drivers: If your printer isn’t printing, or has other problems, make sure you update the printer driver on your computer and on the printer itself. This can often solve any printing problems you’re having.” I am very wary of updating drivers because of reports of printers rejecting third-party cartridges following driver updates.

I am surprised that the Competition and Markets Authority has not intervened to stop printer manufacturers from deliberately preventing use of third party cartridges.

There really has to be a positive decision as to whether third party inks are legitimate or are an infringement of patent. Firms selling these inks have, until now, been allowed to sell them without protest. The printer manufacturers should not be allowed to use their back door tactics to make third party inks unusable. If they have a case to be made, this should be a legal case. Third party inks could alter their chips in order to circumvent these changes and continue selling or even produce software that resets the printer. Once it has been bought, the manufacturer has no control over the way it is used, other than to revoke the guarantee. The purchaser can choose whether to adapt the machine or not. Third, third parties could sell software that does this. In any case finding that a printer suddenly stops working is infuriating and the whole manufacturer ink cartridge rip-off something that I feel needs investigating and something Which? steadfastly refuses to do!

I had wondered about patent infringement, Vynor, when the third-party ink introduced chips on their cartridges to allow them to work in printers that required chipped cartridges. I do not know whether the printer manufacturers have taken action against any of the companies, but it’s not something that consumers have to worry about unless sale of the cheaper cartridges was banned.

It should not invalidate the manufacturer’s guarantee or a consumer’s statutory rights if a fault is unrelated to use of third-party cartridges. On the other hand, if the print heads block or there is leakage of ink, it’s unreasonable to expect the retailer to provide a repair or other remedy.

It seems that printers are sold as loss leaders and the money is made from sale of ink. I’m not keen on that business model and since I learned about printer manufacturers preventing use of third-party inks I have not bought any OEM cartridge. I have followed Duncan’s advice and not allowed updates of printer drivers. I don’t know if this creates a security risk.

I wonder how much ink jet printers would cost if they were not (presumably) subsidised by high cost OEM ink? I have used Canon printers for many years and had extremely good results, particularly with fade-free photographs. So I have not risked changing from OEM ink, but do relatively little printing so it’s not a huge deal. However, a set of XL cartridges cost more than the current printer.

Perhaps where printers block 3rd party inks Which? should make them “Don’t buys”. We should be free to use any ink we like, at our own risk, in any printer and not have the manufacturer prevent that.

The problem with making printers ‘Don’t buys’ is that the problem does not exist at the time of purchase but sometimes later when drivers are updated. As explained in the introduction, it is impossible or difficult to revert to earlier drivers.
Maybe we should also be discussing this under ‘sustainability because if a new printer costs little more than a set of cartridges there must be a temptation to replace the printer and the old one goes for recycling or in landfill.

Until a year or two ago I did a lot of printing and have been very happy with my third party cartridges, which have saved me a lot of money and have been trouble-free.

Some views from across the pond:



“The problem with making printers ‘Don’t buys’ is that the problem does not exist at the time of purchase” If a particular brand of printer shows this problem of blocking 3rd party inks with updates, then I’m suggesting making the brand a “don’t buy”, or at the very least pointing out that 3rd party inks may be blocked. A negative report, much as was done with Indesit dryers.

Both interesting articles, thanks. Epson reliability was an issue and, in the distant past, I moved because of that. I hope things have improved in the interim. I shall certainly be looking at ink bottle printers when replacing the ones I currently have. Also interesting, the reluctance to talk about ink pricing with Consumer Reports. The judges ruling was based on permission to refill cartridges and did not reference the pricing of any particular cartridge. The report didn’t mention the chip blocking that has been problematic in the past few years.

Geraint Whitley says:
3 June 2019

We have just had both Lexmark printers rendered useless in a Dentist’s Surgery these last couple of days.
Lexmark have, in a telephone conversation, told us that they will not allow anything other than their own cartridges to work in these printers. They stopped working after an official update.
The time wasted and the inconvenience caused will certainly mean that we will not be recommending Lexmark again.
Computer Wizard St Albans
Which Trusted Trader

Willy says:
7 June 2019

I have no idea what HP is stopping fair trade and locking printers from using aftermarket ink again – they just went through a lawsuit about that and here we go again. I bought and HP officejet 6968 and tried aftermarket ink and it’s locked out – went to the HP forum and sure enough got the response that there is no fix the firmware from HP is stopping use of the aftermarket ink again – I am going to be ditching this printer as I will save buying another printer that allow me to use the ink I want – they should be sued over this again

Sue Sheane says:
14 June 2019

I have had the same problem as others with my Epson printer suddenly refusing to print…on a mac [or mine at least] there is no error message the cartridges simply don’t work…when you look for level it shows ful but the printer simply won’t print. It took ages and a second printer [stupid, I know, but got the same printer] before I deduced what the problem was.
I will never in my life buy or use an epson product again…I will tell everyone I know at every opportunity, to shun this company. If I had the resources, I would do everything I could to hurt the company…sue…whatever. It can’t possibly be legal. I am sooooo sick of customers being the least important cog in the corporate machine!

Alan says:
21 June 2019

I have an Epson XP-342 and after the latest firmware update it will not print black via the computer – it WILL COPY black thuogh. There WAS an option to replace the firmware with previous versions but this has been block by Epson’s latest update

Linda says:
25 June 2019

I had never updated my EPSON inkjet printer software. But when I did, it simply stopped printing. Epson ink is too expensive so it’s time for a new printer and it won’t be an Epson.

Brian Lucking says:
3 July 2019

Recently installed cheaper brand cartridges in my Epson WF-2750. Black was ok but when a colour cartridge was put in it will not accept it.

It seems unlikely that one third party cartridge works but another one does not, assuming they are from the same company. I suggest you discuss this with the retailer in case the cartridge was faulty. You will probably be offered a replacement or a refund.

L Anthony says:
6 July 2019

I have an XP 355 from Epson, so new it is still under warranty. Unfortunately, the whole commercial world appears to be suffering from unexpectedly high call volumes so I can’t telephone PC World to discuss the problem, but my story is exactly the same as every other person and it would cost me more than double Epson’s extortionate price of ink to drive the twenty-six miles round trip to PCW.
So we are dependent upon the Consumer Groups to begin pressure movements to end this bullying by giant globalised companies – how they will do that when this government can’t even get them to pay taxes is an interesting problem.

Rita Higgins says:
13 July 2019

I have an Epson XP 520, which has worked with none epson inks for many months without problems. Today it refuses to use them My cartridges are almost full and I am not going to throw them away.

Is it just Epson trying to bully us ?

Yes. Someone should stop them! How might one go about a factory reset?