Printer updates can make ink cartridges stop working

Printer owners complain after firmware updates
Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 05, 2018

Do you use third-party ink cartridges for your printer to save money on expensive ink?

Then you may want to know what happened to Carol Spaulding and some other Epson owners who have posted complaints online.

Spaulding recently did something any of us would do: She said "OK" to a firmware update sent to her PC by Epson.

"I got a message on the screen, it said 'Your Epson printer needs a firmware update,' so I clicked and said yes," she said.

Cartridge no longer recognized

What she didn't know was that Epson's latest update would no longer allow her to use cheaper ink cartridges.

"When it came back on it said, 'Ink cartridge not recognized, please replace the cartridge,'" she said.  

It would no longer work at all with the two discount ink cartridges she had installed to save money.

It turns out this is not just an issue with Epson. 

People have been complaining for years about other printers doing this, where they agree to an update and can no longer use third-party cartridges.

HP's major update two years ago resulted in such a backlash that it apologized and backed off and agreed to let owners resume using third-party ink (though a late 2017 update may have bricked some third-party cartridges again).

Bloggers have dubbed it "printeruption" and "bricking-gate" because the off-brand cartridges will no longer work.    

"I can't even get to the menu on the printer anymore," Spaulding said. "It won't even go past the error message."

Reason for the bricking

With an official Epson cartridge costing twice the price of her off-brand cartridge (in the $50 range), Spaulding says it might be cheaper to just buy a new printer that comes with your first set of ink cartridges.

Either way, Spaulding is not happy.

"They are kind of holding you hostage so you buy their printer cartridges," she said.

Duane Brozek, an Epson America spokesman, defended the update. He says other brands of cartridges and ink may not function properly, so the company periodically updates firmware to ensure the printer operates as designed. (See full Epson statement below.) 

If you are not happy with that, you may want to avoid the update so you don't waste your money.


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"Many Epson printers are designed for use with only genuine Epson-brand cartridges. Other brands of ink cartridges and ink supplies are not compatible and, even if described as compatible, may not function properly or at all. This can be true regardless of firmware updates.

"Epson provides information about the design of the printer on the box and in many other locations and materials included with the printer.

"Periodically, Epson updates its firmware to ensure that the printer operates as designed."