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HP Sued Over Printers That Won’t Scan or Fax When Ink Is Low

Two consumers who bought Hewlett-Packard (HP) all-in-one printers are suing the company after they discovered that their machines would not scan or fax when it was low on ink or empty.

HP all-in-one

Of course, neither scanning nor faxing requires any ink in order to accomplish those tasks.

This case is essentially similar to a complaint filed against Canon last year where a consumer claimed that his printer stopped scanning when his ink cartridges were low or empty. [See story.]


The lawsuit against HP claims:

6. What HP fails to disclose is that, if even one of the ink cartridges is too low or empty, the scanning function on the “all-in-one” printer will be disabled and will not work as advertised (hereinafter, the “Design Flaw”).

7. None of HP’s advertising or marketing materials disclose the basic fact that its All-in-One Printers do not scan documents when the devices have low or empty ink cartridges.

12. HP’s intent is clear, namely, to have their multi-function devices revert to an inoperable “error state” so that a large subset of those multi-function device purchasers will purchase additional overpriced and unnecessary ink cartridges in order to be able to scan and to fax documents. The end goal is to increase the sales of one HP’s largest profit makers, ink.

So the consumers are suing for misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and unfair or deceptive practices.

A related issue alleges that some HP all-in-one printers won’t scan when their ink cartridges have plenty of ink but have expired. That was reported by two of our readers last year but is not raised in this lawsuit.

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18 thoughts on “HP Sued Over Printers That Won’t Scan or Fax When Ink Is Low”

  1. Don’t buy Canon or HP. There are so many other good brands. They sell cartridges by region, so that a cartridge bought in transit while travelling in Asia might/will not work anywhere else..

  2. It’s bad enough that devices wont allow you to print in monochrome when one of the color carts is empty, but disabling fax and scan is absurd. If this truly is not disclosed anywhere prior to purchase, it should be open and shut.

    I realized not long ago that it was very rare I really needed to print anything in color. I just did it because it was there. ( Better to use the ink before it dries up in the cartridge anyway ). Bought a black and white laser all in one that does *not* disable anything if the toner is empty, and will never go back. When I need color I put the file on a USB stick and take it to Staples, Kinkos, or a UPS store (the best deal last I checked).

  3. It sucks that HP makes such amazing business oriented desktop printers because all of their consumer devices are crap.

    This doesn’t even surprise me, HP has been desperate to squeeze every drop out of the consumer printing world it can, riding it’s name straight into the ground. This is also a completely ridiculous function and something HP should be sued over. There is no reason for the Fax and Scan to stop working when the printer is low on ink, that would be like your laptop shutting down and not working even when plugged in because the battery is old and degraded, or your car not running if your windshield washer fluid is empty.

    If anyone here is looking for recommendations:
    There are two really good options to avoid BS like this, but both are more expensive up front:

    A laser printer is great for people who only need black and white, the maintenance on it is low and you’ll get tens of thousands of pages out of it easy.

    Or, my personal suggestion, go with a Brother Ecotank printer. Instead of ink cartridges, the printer uses a tank that you refill with a squeeze bottle, you’re going to pay about $250 for one at Costco, but the ink is a lot cheaper and there’s no DRM, so you can buy offbrand ink for it. Brother also says that ink in one of their Ecotank printers will last at least two years before starting to get dry, so even if you don’t print very often, it’s a good choice, especially for color.

  4. I have used HP printers for about 20 years and have avoided these issues with unrelated functions not working due to low or expired ink. My solution has been to use third party ink. I found a responsible supplier and have minimal issues with their cartridges.

  5. I hate HP InstantInk. Many printer manufacturers have added a subscription option, but only HP enforces it in such an evil way.

    The last straw was when I was expecting the usual refill and it didn’t come. My printer stopped printing, scanning, anything.

    I contacted InstantInk customer support and they finally sent out replacement cartridges, but although they were HP cartridges, they were not InstantInk cartridges. My printer refused to accept them. Customer support said sorry, there was nothing more they could do.

    I canceled my InstantInk subscription but my printer refused to do anything regardless. I ended up replacing it with a Canon and skipped their subscription plan and all is well.

  6. I just took my HP “money sucker” to the recycle center, it was only about a year and a half old…. Will never buy another from them.
    Bought an Epson this time and so far so good.

  7. Just return the printer if it happens under 1 year. Happened to me and I returned it to Staples stating the printer was a brick with low ink. Even if I printed in BW only and the color was low still a brick. Nothing anywhere stated the printer would be a brick with low ink.

  8. I have experienced the same problem with not be able to scan or fax because of low ink. I will look at other models when I buy again.

  9. OMG I’ve been trying to print from my HP printer for days – low ink Holy Crap can I Sue HP ???

  10. Their multi-function printers also won’t print if the photo cartridge is low on ink. So you cannot print non-photo’s documents because you need photo ink.

  11. Yeah, I remember the joy I had when I could print high-quality text (instead of dot matrix dots) on the first HP Deskjet, and when I was able to buy one of the early Laserjet printers. I used to swear by HP printers; now I just swear at them.

  12. I subscribed to “Instant Ink” and if I do not pay, $7 every month the printer will not work at all. I have received 2 cartridges in 5 years. THat is robbery. I quit using the printer.

  13. A related issue alleges that some HP all-in-one printers won’t scan when their ink cartridges have plenty of ink but have expired.

    This has happened to me on two occasions with HP ink. I buy the XL cartridges that are supposed to print more pages, but it doesn’t print those extra pages and there’s at least a quarter ink left in the tank. This is for the ENVY 4510/12 series. These ink cartridges are not cheap, and when you have to throw away at least a quarter of ink, it pisses you off.

  14. We donated our HP all in one to charity and got a similar functioning Epson Eco Tank. By now we would have been on our 2nd or third set of cartridges. So far very pleased. Good by HP!

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