A Nice Idea Abused


I’ve been buying Hewlett Packard (HP) printers for the last 20 years, and I’m loyal to them for their long-life, build quality and trouble-free maintenance.

But HP know that the long-term profit of customers like me lies not in the hardware but the consumables – the printer cartridges in particular. So, they installed a neat feature in the last two printers I purchased, which tracks the amount of ink left in real-time, and reports it on a simple widget on my computer screen. This feature only works if you buy genuine HP cartridges, so rewarding a loyal customer with superior information to ensure no nasty surprises.

Sadly though, I’ve learned to distrust such ‘advice alerts’. First, it turns out there’s plenty more ink left than the warning suggests, so wrongly encouraging you to replenish before necessary. Second, HP cartridges are prohibitively expensive – up to twice own-label prices – with no discernible quality benefit from black ink, and only a little from coloured inks.

Net result – HP’s disingenuous advice and premium pricing has turned steady revenue into a purchase of last resort. Worse – this abuse has even dented my belief in HP printers themselves.

Sustainable brand loyalty within customers is based on its reward and respect, not stretching it to breaking point….