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Partners: Off-Brand Cartridges Are Breaking HP Printers, 'Crap In- Crap Out'

As HP issues a firmware update that allows non-HP cartridges to work with HP printers, partners say the bigger issue is the damage those catridges can do.

HP Inc. partners say all the hubbub surrounding a firmware update that prevented some cloned cartridges from working with HP printers misses the point: namely that off brand cartridges are breaking HP printers.

"It's simple: crap in, crap out," said Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, a top HP inc. partner, No. 167 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500. "This is not a freedom of choice issue. It is a quality issue. We see remanufactured cartridges where toner is leaking out of the device. The risk is not worth the reward. If I was HP I would stand my ground and do what is right for the business and not allow remanufactured catridges to be used in HP printers."

[Related: CRN Exclusive: HP COO Flaxman Reaffirms Commitment To Printer Security]

In addition to breaking printers, off brand clone, counterfeit and remanufactured cartridges end up jeopardizing security, impacting print quality and ultimately costing customers more in the long run, partners said.

The outcry from partners came after HP released a fix for customers impacted by a new cartridge authentication procedure that prevented some cloned cartridges from working with HP printers.

In a blog post Wednesday, HP COO Jon Flaxman apologized to customers affected by the problem, but reaffirmed HP's commitment to use "security features in the future."

Venero, an HP managed print services partner, said his company walks away from deals where customers want to use remanufactured printer cartridges. "My services' costs go up exponentially on devices that use remanufactured toner," he said.

The clone cartridges end up breaking HP printers with customers blaming HP as the printer manufacturer – not the third party clone cartridge maker, said Venero.

"HP has invested billions and billions of dollars in R and D in creating the number one printer offering in the market," said Venero. "Giving a third-party non-certified toner cartridge maker the ability to impact the user experience doesn't make sense."

Bruno Tirone, president and CEO of MRA International Inc., a Long Branch, New Jersey HP Inc. partner, said buying cloned cartridges ultimately ends up costing the customer in the form of a broken printer that needs to be replaced.

"It's a big mistake to use non-HP cartridges," said Tirone. "Even though they end up saving a couple of pennies on the cartridge in six months to a year they end up having to replace the printer. At the end of the day, the customer has saved a couple of pennies but their (print) yield is a lot less and they have destroyed their printer."


The issue in most businesses is that the purchasing department is making the buying decision on non-HP cartridges rather than the IT department, said Tirone, who sells only HP printers and cartridges.

"The purchasing department by trying to save money actually ends up costing the company more," he said. "What happens is you end up with leakage inside the printer. That means the printer needs to be serviced more. Eventually you wind up killing the printer. We fix printers. I see it on a daily basis with remanufactured cartridges. It's crazy. But it's a good market for me because I end up making money selling new printers."

One sign of the HP printer quality- a customer with a 30 year HP 5si printer that is still working – paying $200 for the cartridges. "That's no joke," said Tirone. "That printer is still up and running. I asked the customer if they wanted to swap it out because when they turn it on- the lights dip. The customer said it works. That's the point: HP printers with HP cartridges work – period."

Tirone said he sees HP Inc. being unfairly singled out because it is the market leader. "When you are the champion, everyone picks on you," he said. "HP is the gorilla in the market."

Dan Molina, CTO of San Diego-based Nth Generation Computing, No 373 on the CRN 2016 SP500, said buying a non- HP printer cartridge is like buying a Mercedes automobile and then using non Mercedes parts in the car.

Ultimately using non HP cartridges ends up costing customers more, said Molina, noting that the cartridge issue is one of the reasons print managed services are popular with customers. "The whole point of selling a managed service is to free the customers of the concern of managing day to day operations with printers so they can use that time on something that is more beneficial to their business," said Molina.

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