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September 3, 2012

HP Warranty Surprises

Filed under: Computers — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:37 am

HP does not make finding its product warranty easy, and when you find it, it can contain a surprise or two.

Right in the middle of printing his tax return last April, MrConsumer’s HP laser printer konked out. Luckily, he had purchased a replacement HP several years earlier when it was on sale. Upon opening the box, I was curious about the warranty that came with the new printer. The warranty card or statement was nowhere to be found.

I had a vague memory that the law may allow a manufacturer of an electronic item to provide the warranty on a CDROM. Sure enough, when scouring the FTC’s website, an 2009 opinion letter popped up in which a lawyer who represented a computer and printer manufacturer asked whether his company could fulfill the requirements of the law by including the warranty either on the hard drive or on a disk instead of on paper.

The opinion stated in part:


“In passing the Act, Congress’s intent was to ensure that consumers receive clear and complete information about warranty coverage pre-sale, and that consumers be able to retain a copy of the warranty post-sale for reference in case of product failure. In the opinion of FTC staff, those purposes are sufficiently accomplished by providing, in electronic form, a copy of a written consumer product warranty that otherwise complies with the requirements and prohibitions of the Warranty Act and Rules – provided the warranted consumer products include clear, conspicuous, and easy-to-follow instructions on how to access the warranty information provided on the consumer product’s internal drive or on an accompanying CD or DVD [color added] and that a consumer can print out a paper copy of the warranty if needed.”

Popping the included CD into the computer did not produce any message of where on the CD one could read the warranty. Browsing the CD’s file contents revealed dozens of files and subdirectories, with no file labeled as “warranty”. Even the readme file made no mention of the warranty.

In short, HP did not provide clear and easy instructions on how to find the warranty required to be included in the box. But then again, this was a 2006 printer, packaged three years before the FTC gave its opinion that it was now okay not to include a printed warranty. Hmmm.

When the warranty was finally found online, it contained a most unusual disclosure:


“HP products may contain remanufactured parts equivalent to new in performance or may have been subject to incidental use.”

What? This brand new printer may be made with used and then reconditioned parts? This is supposed to be a brand new printer from the most well known printer company in the world. And why would such a disclosure not be on the outside of the box rather than be hidden in one file on the disk inside the box?

If any Mouse Print* readers have an HP printer purchased in 2010 or later, it would be interesting to see if there are instructions on how to find the warranty in the box or on the CD, and whether it comes up as a menu item when popping in the disk.

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  1. I certainly have one, and it is a wireless 8500 and I am livid. Reconditioned parts? For $300 and printer ink is so expensive and runs out so quickly? I know that my husband had to look online because the paper got stuck once. I will try to find the papers for it. It will take awhile. No wonder their products are so flaky.

    Comment by nancyellen — September 3, 2012 @ 7:36 am
  2. HP use to be the premier printer maker in my opinion, but no more. The last HP printer I bought (and it will be my last) was of poor quality. In addition to the high cost of ink cartridges, it makes no economical sense to stick with HP.

    Comment by Richard S — September 3, 2012 @ 8:10 am
  3. I’ve got an HP4140 purchased in ’07. And other than being slow to react, has performed OK. My printing needs are basic. But yes! You are the bloodhound of bamboozlers Edgar: item 9 of my warranty (contained in my included “BASICS GUIDE” pamphlet)states – “HP products may (weasel-word alert) contain remanufactured parts, components, or materials equivalent to new in performance”.

    Comment by Marty — September 3, 2012 @ 10:07 am
  4. The horror of HP is their consumer service should anything goes wrong! You’re call goes to Pakistan, you get the runaround (provided that you can understand them) and then wind up back to square one! I will never again purchase anything that has HP on it!

    Comment by Frankie — September 3, 2012 @ 11:06 am
  5. This is why one doesn’t buy any HP printer newer than around 2003 or so. Even then you only look at the laser printers, their inkjets always have and probably always will suck. (course i’ve sworn off inkjet altogether.. too flipping expensive compared to laser)
    Aka: HP printers really suck.

    Comment by FnordMan — September 3, 2012 @ 11:38 am
  6. Two HP’s later I have a Lexmark. Much cheaper. Had an install issue since it was wireless and they patched it right up remotely in ten minutes. I also like the idea of individual cartridges. As far as toner with HP I use to get it refilled on the cheap at Walgreen’s. Never worked. Was it designed to fail?

    Comment by Rick — September 4, 2012 @ 12:51 pm
  7. We’ve always used HP printers. But over the last 5 years or so they have declined in working right. We have bought three new printers from them in the last 5 year! The first we had was some top of the line (little bit older) ALL IN ONE and Best Buy tried to repair it but they had no success. It kept sucking up mutiple papers and then cause jaws…constantly. So they let us replace it and we bought the newest model C410 HP Photo SMart Prmium All In One.

    Well after a few weeks it half the time wouldn’t print anything. Then when it did it often was one line of jibberish per page and and kept printings tons of them. So again we took it to best buy and again they cold not fix it and we got to replace it.

    So we bought the same model again, at this time we just got a enw computer to (HP oddly enough). So I figured with a new computer maybe the old one just had issues even though I am pc TECH and took care of it. Well AGAIN this new printer (same model) did the same thing almost from day one! We agreed next time no more HP printers.

    And sadly enough this is also when we found out they shrunk the “Black XL” catridges in half despite the fact you pretty much pay the same price! I am no longer a fun of HP!

    Comment by Matt — September 6, 2012 @ 3:50 am
  8. I gave up on printers. They simply cost too much to run. I don’t print often, and in most cases, I can print at work. We have several flash drives at home (including one that holds our cell phones’ memory cards, so if we are out and about and, say, need a coupon, we just go to Staples and print it in black and white for (I believe) $.09. We probably spend $1-2 a year on prints this way. Much cheaper than maintaining and replacing a home printer, and it saves on space by not having one laying around collecting dust.

    Comment by Laura — September 6, 2012 @ 9:38 am
  9. I’ve had my HP printer for 6 months now, and just yesterday was in an office supply store looking at replacements! I print a lot of photographs, and I need a printer that can scan and copy as well as print. (And it needs to do photos REALLY well.) I will be purchasing a new printer this week–and it will NOT be an HP.
    The HP doesn’t recognize half the requests from the computer, it takes FOREVER to decide to print, it can’t seem to recognize that there is a full tray of paper (tells me “Paper Tray Empty” almost every sheet, even after cleaning the rollers–has done that since it was new), and the ink cartridges have to be taken out and shaken every few sheets printed or it starts to fade & tells me it’s out of ink.
    Now I find it’s made with used parts? No wonder it’s such a miserable piece of equipment! This is my LAST HP printer–ever!

    Comment by Sunny — September 10, 2012 @ 8:28 am
  10. My last printer ran out of ink (at an extremely inopportune moment, of course) so I ran to Target to grab ink. They were out of the specific number HP ink that my printer required, and said that they will no longer carry it. On my way out of the aisle, I noticed that color ink (~$20) + black ink (~$20) is almost the same as the cost of a new printer that comes with ink (~$50). I actually called the sales guy back over and we ran the numbers many times. The printer (which also scans and copies) was $10 more than the ink it comes with! Ridiculous. Anyway, it was a minor emergency, so I bought it and it’s worked great so far. I have minimal printing needs, but when you need one, you need one.

    Comment by Charli — September 10, 2012 @ 9:01 am
  11. I’m not surprised the HP jumped the gun on shipping the warranty card on CD instead of paper. They have to include a disc with the printer for the printer’s drivers, so why not load a PDF copy of the warranty on the disc? If you’re manufacturing millions of printers, that’s a big cost savings in paper. I still don’t excuse them for not making the warranty easy to find. Even if not required by law, good customer service means that they should make it easy to find the warranty, such as on the CD’s label, and/or on the autorun menu, or in the disc’s folder structure. It’s not very hard to put a “warranty” folder on the disc and load the PDF file in there, is it? But I guess that’s not the way big corporations work.

    Lastly, am I the only one who’s surprised that there’s a law allowing manufacturers to supply the warranty on disc (or online) in lieu of a paper copy? I had no idea that such a law exists!

    Comment by Mike — September 11, 2012 @ 9:49 am
  12. HP’s computers? Good. HP’s printers? Bad.

    Comment by Xterra — September 13, 2012 @ 10:23 am
  13. Well, I popped in the CD to see if there was anything about the warranty for my printer… which I either got in ’11 or this year. All I could find was something along the lines of… “in addition to the standard warranty..” and then lots of stuff I could purchase, primarily an extended warranty.
    Having said that, I must say that I’m very, very pleased with the performance of my HP LaserJet P1102w printer.

    Comment by Finder — September 16, 2012 @ 6:01 pm
  14. this does not surprise me.i have had 2 HP PC’s,and both were crap.

    Comment by Mark — September 18, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

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