Subscription based services have become increasingly popular over the last few years. HP® is just one of many companies nowadays jumping on the subscription bandwagon, and with Instant Ink®, they are reinventing the way you buy ink. Instead of replacing a cartridge when your ink runs out, you are paying to print a set amount of pages each month. HP offers a few different price options, depending on how often you print. The occasional plan is offered at $2.99, giving you 50 prints a month. The moderate plan goes for $4.99, giving you 100 prints per month. And the frequent plan is $9.99, giving you 300 prints per month. Judging on price alone, the instant ink program is an affordable option for many consumers. But if you factor in the fine print, dealing with Instant Ink’s rules and regulations may outweigh the convenience of a low monthly cost.
A printed page may not be what you expect.
Under instant ink’s terms, a printed page is “a page upon which any amount ink of is placed by your printer” 2. This means, if you print a page with just one line of text on it, it will count toward your monthly print total. Customers may be inclined to be more mindful of their printing habits if they have to consider the cost of every page. Unexpected prints or typos might add up fast, especially for customers that are on a budget.
Consider the possibility of overage fees.
If you do end up going your allotted monthly amount, the cost of your subscription may start to add up. HP charges1 $1 per 15 pages on the occasional plan, $1 per 20 pages on the moderate plan and $1 per 25 pages on the frequent plan. The occasional overage fee may not be a deal breaker for most customers but that extra expense can tally up fast if you have a major print job to complete. To get around paying the overage fee, you might want to consider having a set of back up cartridges on hand. Regular (non-instant ink ready) back up cartridges will let you continue printing without having to worry about incurring additional fees.
HP might monitor some of your information.
When you sign up for the instant ink program, you are authorizing HP2 to remotely monitor page count, ink levels, the type of documents you print, the type of device you use to print a particular document and whether the last cartridge you used was new or used. They are also allowed to share some of your information2 (name, address, email, printer model) with the retailer that you purchased the subscription from.
Replacement cartridges may take up to 10 days to arrive.
HP instant ink cartridges are shipped standard and may take up to 10 days to arrive, for some. However, for most customers, it probably won’t take that long. When tested, an order of instant ink cartridges arrived relatively quickly. HP sent an email notification stating that a new set of cartridges were being shipped out on Friday and they were received the following Wednesday. Instant ink keeps track of the amount of ink your machine, so it can anticipate when it should ship out a replacement set of cartridges to you. HP estimates this based on when your cartridges have enough ink to “print twice as much as the number of average pages in your monthly plan“1. This works well for customers that print occasionally, and shipping time probably won’t be an issue. But if you are in the middle of a high volume print job with a tight deadline, you may not be able to afford to wait. For those that are in a rush, HP does offer expedited shipping for an additional charge.
Unused prints will rollover to the next month, up to a certain point
Rollover prints are baked into each plan, but the number of rollover pages you can accrue varies, depending on what plan you are enrolled in. The occasional plan offers a maximum of 50 rollover pages3 in your account at a time, the moderate plan allows for up 100 rollover pages per account and the frequent plan offers up to 300 rollover pages. If you don’t need to print for a couple of months, the number of rollover pages will be capped.
In order for instant ink to accurately monitor cartridge use, your printer must be connected to the internet.
HP’s Instant Ink cartridges are set up to communicate with your printer in order to accurately track4 page usage and ink levels. Cartridges will only communicate with the printer when it’s connected to the internet, so if your internet connection is bad, it won’t be able to properly record your total page count. You can still print when it’s not connected to the internet, but the page tracker will not be count the printed pages until there is a connection. This delay might be a problem for Instant Ink customers if they run a big print job offline, reach their monthly page limit and need a replacement cartridge right away. If the connection isn’t able to monitor how many pages you have left in real time, the program might not be able to anticipate when to ship out a new cartridge.
Instant Ink only works with certain printers.
There are only a select number of newer model HP machines5 that are instant ink ready. If you’ve got an older model HP printer, you will need to upgrade in order to enroll in a plan. Printer price can vary depending on what sort of printer you are in the market for, ranging anywhere between $70 to $380.
Forget to pay your Instant Ink bill and HP just might shut off access to the service.
Just like an electric bill or gas bill, instant ink is a monthly service you need to stay on top of in order to take advantage of it. If you don’t stay current, HP has the option to temporarily shut down access2 to the service and your Instant Ink cartridges. Since Instant Ink relies on an active account to report ink levels, a delay in payment might also delay the shipping time of a badly needed replacement cartridge.
Instant ink is a different way to look at the way we print. The low monthly price point is very inviting for many consumers, and makes sense for people that only print a few times each month. But for customers that have a fixed budget, the extra fees that come along with extra prints might be a cause for concern. No matter where you stand, factors like a monthly bill, connectivity concerns, and overage fees are worth keeping in mind. Instant ink isn’t the only inexpensive printing option on the market. Compatible cartridges are incredibly affordable and they offer the freedom of being able to print what you need, without worrying about overage fees. Now that you a have a better idea of what to expect with Instant Ink, the choice is yours.
1 “HP Instant Ink FAQ.” HP.com, http://m.hp.com/us/en/ads/instant-ink/faqs.html. Accessed 11 October 2016.
2 “HP Instant Ink Terms of Service.” HP.com. https://instantink.hpconnected.com/us/en/terms. Accessed 11 October 2016, v. 1.25.2016.
3 “HP Instant Ink – Understanding HP Instant Ink Monthly Charges.” HP.com, http://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c03917913. Accessed 11 October 2016.
4 “HP Instant Ink – Page Count Is Not the Same as Actual Pages Printed.” HP.com, http://support.hp.com/us-en/product/HP-Instant-Ink-series/5264756/model/5401249/document/c05029962/. Accessed 11 October 2016.
5 “HP Instant Ink – Ink Replacement Service.” HP.com, http://www.shopping.hp.com/shopping/pdf/instantink_faq.pdf. Accessed 11 October 2016.