The title of this post probably isn’t a shocker, assuming you know that Wheaton’s Law is “don’t be a dick.”
What is shocking to me, however, is the fact that HP region encodes their printers and ink cartridges. That’s right, just like the annoying mechanisms that apply to DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, video games and whatever else might be region-encoded, ink cartridges are region encoded as well.
We discovered this issue a couple of weeks ago when my wife’s printer ran out of ink. She’s got an HP PSC 2355 All-in-One Printer, which, while not super expensive, she certainly wasn’t going to leave in the US. At Saturn (where ink is slightly cheaper than at Mediamarkt even though they’re owned by the same corporation) she selected some ink cartridges and we thought that would be the end of the ink shortage. The ink cartridges had the exact printer model in the list of compatible printers on the package, but after inserting the cartridges in the printer it displayed the joyful message that an “Incorrect Print Cartridge” had been inserted.
It’s especially lovely how all of the official HP support pages claim that something has probably inexplicably gone awry with the cartridge itself and, summarized, that it really couldn’t have anything to do with the printer. While keeping the possibility in mind, we didn’t consider this scenario very likely, however.
Somehow that wasted effort did make me realize that perhaps I should try a broader Internet search while including things like “US to Europe” in the search string. This quickly yielded plenty of results. One commenter said that “after 3 phone calls and 4 emails” he “learned that all HP printers sold after 2004 are regionalised.”
So my wife went on the HP support chat and after 45 minutes to 1 hour of exchanging all kinds of codes and diving into hidden configuration screens (something rather silly that reminds more of an easter egg than of a serious feature) the region of the printer was changed. It’s now working properly in Europe. Beware, however, if you’re a business person staying in various continents who wants to take their printer along. Aside from the considerable effort involved, there are only 2 region changes left now.
Whenever my current Epson printer or my wife’s HP printer is ready for replacement I will most certainly try to buy one that doesn’t have such ridiculous anti-features. Therefore I was trying to find out if other printer manufacturers also region-encode their ink cartridges; I couldn’t find anything (though I didn’t search for very long), but I did run into this gem, as a reply to someone asking whether their American Epson printer would work in Japan.
I’ve never heard of region coding for ink cartridges.
Such sweet, blissful innocence.
While HP was already on my avoid list due to their abhorrent tech support regarding the lousy computer they sold to my parents. It turned out that the SATA controller to which the HDD was connected had somehow become defective. Figuring this out took me about 5 minutes; they took several weeks and they still couldn’t find anything wrong with it. But the story behind that is worthy of a separate blog post. Suffice it to say that I will not be buying any computers, printers, scanners or anything else from HP anymore. Lousy support is one thing, but if I wanted to have acts of coitus performed on me if I happen to move outside of some so-called region I’d rather pay money to a hooker.
P.S. By the way, Microsoft, this is why I use Ubuntu now instead of software that does all kinds of ridiculous things that I don’t want it to do. This has already been extensively covered by other people, so I certainly won’t waste my time doing any such thing.