Tech

HP wants you to pay up to $36/month to rent a printer that it monitors

HP Envy

Enlarge / The HP Envy 6020e is one of the printers available for rent.

HP launched a subscription service today that rents people a printer, allots them a specific amount of printed pages, and sends them ink for a monthly fee. HP is framing its service as a way to simplify printing for families and small businesses, but the deal also comes with monitoring and a years-long commitment.

Prices range from $6.99 per month for a plan that includes an HP Envy printer (the current model is the 6020e) and 20 printed pages. The priciest plan includes an HP OfficeJet Pro rental and 700 printed pages for $35.99 per month.

HP says it will provide subscribers with ink deliveries when they’re running low and 24/7 support via phone or chat (although it’s dubious how much you want to rely on HP support). Support doesn’t include on or offsite repairs or part replacements. The subscription’s terms of service (TOS) note that the service doesn’t cover damage or failure caused by, unsurprisingly, “use of non-HP media supplies and other products” or if you use your printer more than what your plan calls for.

HP is watching

HP calls this an All-In-Plan; if you subscribe, the tech company will be all in on your printing activities.

One of the most perturbing aspects of the subscription plan is that it requires subscribers to keep their printers connected to the Internet. In general, some users avoid connecting their printer to the Internet because it’s the type of device that functions fine without web access.

A web connection can also concern users about security or HP-issued firmware updates that make printers stop functioning with non-HP ink.

But HP enforces an Internet connection by having its TOS also state that HP may disrupt the service—and continue to charge you for it—if your printer is not online.

HP says it enforces a constant connection so that the company can monitor things that make sense for the subscription, like ink cartridge statuses, page count, and “to prevent unauthorized use of Your account.” However, HP will also remotely monitor the type of documents (for example, a PDF or JPEG) printed, the devices and software used to initiate the print job, “peripheral devices,” and any other “metrics” that HP thinks are related to the subscription and decides to add to its remote monitoring.

The All-In-Plan privacy policy also says that HP may “transfer information about you to advertising partners” so that they can “recognize your devices,” perform targeted advertising, and, potentially, “combine information about you with information from other companies in data sharing cooperatives” that HP participates in. The policy says that users can opt out of sharing personal data.

The All-In-Plan TOS reads:

Subject to the terms of this Agreement, You hereby grant to HP a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free right to use, copy, store, transmit, modify, create derivative works of and display Your non-personal data for its business purposes.

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