Inkflation: Famous Dutch Consumers Association Slams HP for Quietly Raising Ink Cartridge Prices by 66% Since 2018.

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Date: Monday November 27, 2023 04:02:22 pm
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  • jim
    Keymaster Printer manufacturer HP is known for making maximum money on ink. Market figures now also show that HP is making its ink cartridges slightly more expensive. And that often coincides with the moment that the last associated printers have been sold.
    Translated to English.

    The HP 301 ink cartridge was the best-selling cartridge series in our country for many years and is still selling well today. but there is something striking about the price. This cartridge has been on the market since 2011, but after 2017 its price has started to increase. and that increase is considerably more than inflation. the price of the black cartridge initially remained constant from €13 in 2011 to €15 in 2017, but then started to rise to almost €24 now. that is an increase of 58%, while inflation in that period was 24%. We see the same thing with the 301-color cartridge and the XL variants with more ink. The ‘combi pack’ (black and colour together) has even become 66% more expensive since 2018 (from €28 to €47). that nod upward from 2017 coincides with the moment that printers with 301 inks disappeared from stores. Is that a coincidence?

    Significant price increases.
    We have studied the price development of HP’s best-selling cartridges since 2010, which are still widely sold today. We see the same pattern with the HP 364 cartridge, which many PhotoSmart printers work with. those photo printers disappeared from the shelves in 2015. Since then, the price has increased by an average of 72% and that of the multipack even by 85% (from €36 to €61).

    HP printers with a 62 cartridge were sold until 2018.
    The prices of these ink cartridges have increased by 40 to 60% since then.

    You might still think that HP will implement those price increases everywhere. but that is not the case. Many printers that are still in stores work with HP 303 or 305 ink. we have not seen such price increases in recent years, prices remain neatly at (303) or below (305) the inflation level. If you look at this through a cynical lens, the conclusion can be that HP is taking advantage of the situation. New printer buyers are no longer deterred by the price of ink and current owners are stuck with this ink (unless they use cheaper private label ink). you can then squeeze out those printer owners. However, not all ink follows this pattern. a notable exception is the HP 304 cartridge: prices rose immediately after its introduction in 2017.

    ‘We find this morally reprehensible.’
    “This type of profit maximization is probably not legally prohibited,” says Olof King, advocacy director. ‘Although we will certainly ask the supervisor whether this is an unfair commercial practice. In any case, we find this morally reprehensible grabbing behaviour. We will soon have coffee with HP management for a thorough discussion.’

    At the competitors
    Naturally, we not only looked at the prices of market leader HP, but also at those of the largest competitors Canon and Epson. These manufacturers keep ink prices below inflation levels, with a few exceptions. Regardless of whether the printers are still for sale or not. Until 2013, Canon sold many printers with the cartridge sets 510/511 and 512/513. both have risen in price by an average of 25% since 2010, while inflation during that period was 37%. Epson has largely switched to built-in ink tanks that you fill with ink from a bottle. the prices of those bottles have hardly increased. We did find one cartridge series (29) at Epson whose prices have risen sharply (well above inflation) after the printers went off sale.

    Response from HP: ‘We do not communicate externally about our pricing strategy’
    So, it is mainly HP that is involved in ‘inkflation’. Naturally, we asked the printer manufacturer for an explanation, but they provided little information. ‘We do not communicate externally about our pricing strategy’ and ‘HP periodically reviews prices and adjusts, if necessary, based on market conditions. HP partners then determine the final sales prices for which the products are sold.’

    we checked the latter. In any case, it is not the retailers who have single-handedly raised prices. We have viewed documents from 123inkt, the Netherlands’ largest online ink seller. it shows that HP is the same. HP has also implemented price increases at wholesalers. and HP also charges high prices in its own web shop, which are often even slightly higher than at other retailers.

    The HP 301 combo pack has become 66% more expensive since 2018.
    In its response, HP also points to new ink products where you pay less for the ink. Such as the SmartTank printer that works with an ink tank and bottles. and Instant Ink, a pay-per-page ink subscription for newer Wi-Fi printers. When the cartridge runs out, a new one is automatically ordered. Perhaps that HP wants to get customers to sign up for such a subscription with the price increases for individual cartridges. Because in this way the middleman is eliminated in one fell swoop.

    Earn maximum.
    It is quite remarkable that the price increases have gone unnoticed for so long. We received no complaints from consumers. Due to the small price increases of a few euros every year, it is probably hardly noticeable. but every little bit adds up. With the additional sales from the 301 and 364 cartridges alone, we estimate that HP must have earned millions.

    Somehow it doesn’t surprise us that HP is doing this. the printer maker has built up a reputation for doing everything it can to make maximum money on ink. HP does this mainly by making the use of ink from other brands as difficult as possible. The latest weapon is called HP+: you buy a printer and before you know it you have agreed to use only HP ink. the printer is then locked in other ink.

    Cartridges - Kooptips (Consumentenbond) - YouTube

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