HP Playing Dirty Tricks?

Category: Printing

I've used replacement inkjet cartridges from third-party vendors for years; they've always worked fine and cost a fraction of the price for brand-name (OEM) cartridges. But two days ago, my HP 8610 suddenly informed me that ALL of my inkjet cartridges “appear to be damaged,” and I can't print at all. Read on for the real story, which will likely make you mad...

Is It Safe to Use Inkjet Refills?

The message that popped up on my printer's display said "One or more cartridges appear to be damaged. Remove them and replace with new cartridges." No, they're not. It's my printer that's “damaged” by a firmware update that HP pushed on me. I can't print anything because my perfectly good cartridges, with plenty of ink, are rejected by my printer. I couldn't find any way to reset the printer or roll back the update.


So I contacted LD Products, the company I always use for my cartridges. Fortunately they said, "We know what happened" and they're sending me replacements at no charge. At least THEY are doing the right thing. The issue is not just “non-HP” or refilled cartridges. Other customers who use only “new and genuine HP” cartridges have been reporting the same problem I have within the past month on the HP Support Forum.

The problem is not defective or improperly installed cartridges, either, at least not in my case. My cartridges worked one day, but did not work the next after the firmware update. I didn’t touch them in between. So HP support’s standard response to complaints about “missing or damaged cartridge” error messages is a waste of time. I tried various tips and tricks that were supposed to reset the printer or solve the problem, to no avail. (There was one that involved sacrificing a chicken under a full moon, but I opted not to try that.) Actually, I have never seen a problem reported “solved” by an HP support rep in the HP Support Forum. Great job, folks.

HP inkjet cartridges damaged

There's a setting on the printer to allow automatic updates, but mine is turned off. But I do recall getting a message from HP that I needed an important update to enable some exciting feature on my printer. That must have been when they snuck in that firmware update which borked my printer.

HP's "Chief Inkologist" has publicly stated that "HP Inc never prevents a customer from using a refill or remanufactured cartridge because we believe in fair competition." But that doesn't ring true. When I spoke with the rep for LD Products, she knew right away what the problem was, and told me that an HP firmware update had caused the problem.

Punished for Buying the Wrong Parts?

UPDATE AND FIX! -- This page explains how to roll back your HP printer firmware, and re-enable the cartridges that HP is falsely claiming are "damaged." It's in Dutch, but if you have Google Chrome, you can right-click the page and select "Translate to English". I tried it, and it works!

Apparently, HP cartridges that are "Generation 1" or "Generation 2" will no longer work if this update hits your printer. You'll need a Generation 3 cartridge. Unfortunately, there's no obvious marking on the cartridge to indicate which generation they are. When this message about "damaged cartridges" appears on the printer, you'll also get a popup on your screen, advising you to replace them with genuine HP cartridges, and a convenient link to purchase them. I can't prove that HP did this intentionally. I suppose it's possible that this firmware update was meant to solve some problem, and just coincidentally "damaged" all these refilled or third-party cartridges. But I doubt it. If that was the case, HP would have pushed out another update to fix the problem, right?

To me, this is akin to a car manufacturer remotely disabling your vehicle if you have repairs done using parts that are not "genuine" or "approved" by the manufacturer. Can you imagine seeing this on your dashboard, after installing a third-party oil filter? "A damaged or defective oil filter was detected. Proceed immediately to your nearest Ford dealer and replace it with a genuine Motorcraft brand filter."

My friend with an HP B209a reports past issues with “missing or damaged (or “incompatible”) cartridges were solved by doing nothing. He just got along without a printer for a few days, weeks, or even months, then tried again and… the darned thing worked. There is no logical explanation for the changes in the printer’s behavior; at least, none that HP is revealing. There may have been a firmware patch that happened while he wasn’t looking.

Do You Really Need a Printer?

It really isn’t hard for most home users to do without a printer indefinitely. Even business users can dramatically reduce their printing needs, as I explained in Save Time and Money With Alternatives to Printing. Someone needs to remind HP and all other printer makers of that fact. We don’t need your products, so if they don’t work, or if you treat us unfairly, we won’t buy them!

Printers should not be such a chronic source of suffering and frustration; they should just work, like a mouse. In their never-ending battle against cheap aftermarket cartridges, vendors have completely abandoned customer satisfaction in favor of market share protection. Printers are over-engineered, fragile, and largely superfluous products. That may be one reason why HP recently announced it’s speeding up the layoffs of over 3,000 employees.

Have you had trouble with third-party or refilled cartridges suddenly not working? It might have been the result of a sneaky software update pushed by the manufacturer. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below.

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Most recent comments on "HP Playing Dirty Tricks?"

(See all 132 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Terri T.
10 Jun 2016

Count me among those who are highly suspicious that this was an intentional "glitch" by HP. Once what I would have considered tops in the market, my own experiences with hateful software and ink cartridge issues has made me loath the company. I positively dread the thought of having to replace a printer, as I'd rather be shot than buy HP, and there doesn't seem to be any company that makes completely dependable components.

By the way, I stopped allowing upgrades on printers years ago, and have fared pretty well. On that note, if a firmware upgrade caused the problem, then a decent HP would have developed another one to fix the issue. JMHO

Posted by:

Community 911
28 Jul 2016

We bought both compatible ink cartridges for HP 8620 printer and had refills of the HP original cartridges refilled by Costco, who sells the printer for 1/2 price of the cartridges. On both, the printer came up with a 'damaged or missing' error and an offer to send their 'original' cartidges. We actually called HP tech support and the tech admitted that HP actively and intentionally and actively blocked use of any other ink cartridges but originals them. My husband wants to smash the HP printer to pieces and post it on the internet with a warning. I'd rather go without than support pathological corporations whose 'mission and vision' is economic pillaging.

Posted by:

Mike Frey
15 Sep 2016

I have an HP 8610. On Sep 13, HP did a software update. Sep 14, I tried to print and got the "one or more cartridges appear to be damaged" message. Nothing that I tried fixed it. Today, the maker of the aftermarket cartridges sent an email telling me what I already knew (after spending 2 hours searching the Internet, including finding This article). I now have no doubts that the software upgrade and resultant "you need to buy new cartridges" message was intentional and underhanded on the part of HP.

Posted by:

Charles Jones
17 Sep 2016

Got a better one for you...I do some IT and am pretty educated in hardware/software) and know enough to turn things off. Well I have NET SERVICES turned OFF on my officejet pro 8620 as well as auto update was off.

Guess who updated my firmware ANYWAY?? You got it. This firmware happened on 9/13 I think it was and there are several threads in the HP forum on the issue.

Of course HP said they weren't original and "could damage" my printer...which we all know is BS. They even tried to shill their ink subscription service.

Basically they have given a big middle finger and said too bad, ask for a refund from your cartridge manuf. It is FAR FAR more troubling that even being educated on things like this, turning off ALL updates, they STILL made a change to my computer essentially without my permission. Thought stuff like that was illegal...

Posted by:

17 Sep 2016

Thanks Bob & Charles,

Charles, being a bit more tech savvy than I, have you been able to downgrade the firmware on the 8620?

I'm struggling to find an earlier version, but if I can't by monday the printer will be going back to the retailer.

Posted by:

Anthony Gross
20 Sep 2016

Same thing happened to me with my HP 8610. Very annoying and irritating. I got my ink from Jarbo from Amazon, I hope they will replace free of charge.

Posted by:

22 Sep 2016

I found this on 123inkt.nl, I did this today and my 8620 is working again with third party cartridges. It rolls your firmware back to 2014. I also went to the HP updater and turned off auto update. You will have to translate it. Here's the link; http://www.123inkt.nl/page/hp_firmware.html

Posted by:

23 Sep 2016

thank you so much James!
it worked for me as well

Posted by:

25 Sep 2016

My printer just started displaying the error codes today and thankfully I came across your site in the process of trying to find a solution. I used the firmware update on the page you referenced and now my printer is working again. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Posted by:

30 Sep 2016

Thanks! Good job. This really worked for me!

Posted by:

03 Oct 2016

I suggest using a later version of the HP 8610 firmware that was just prior to the release that caused the printer cartridge damaged error. The original firmware on my HP 8610 printer purchased in 2015 is version FDP1CN1502AR. HP Support will not make it available even though I escalated the problem to Corporate. You can find it at https://driverscollection.com/_47573637639cadd2fd01b5962ec/Download-HP-Officejet-Pro-8610-Firmware-v....
I downloaded it and installed it successfully. I no longer have the problem using the same refilled printer cartridges that gave the error before - so problem resolved.

Posted by:

05 Oct 2016

Thanks for all your shared wisdom! In an attempt to downgrade my firmware, I downloaded OJ7610_R1326A.exe, and it found my printer, but showed a status of Not Applicable. Has anyone found a workaround to this, or another version of firmware for HP7610 wide format?

Posted by:

10 Oct 2016

Thank you for your article! I bought a HP 8610 around a year ago and recently installed compatible ink. After the update it kept giving me error on some cartridges and would not let me print. Thanks to this I was able to roll back the firmware and it is now working again!!!

Posted by:

13 Oct 2016

Apparently HP received enough complaints.
I did the following and my printer now works!! YAY


Posted by:

pete latorre
20 Oct 2016

Dude, I could kiss you!!
I was getting ready to throw my HP 8620 to the curb, when I tried your suggestion to roll back the firmware. I did so, then tried my generic ink and VOILA!! It worked!! You sir, are a blessing.
Thank you thank you thank you.

Posted by:

15 Nov 2016

Thanks a bunch James and bob for putting this page up.
I will not be buying another HP printer, but in the meantime, my 8610 is back working like a charm with the old firmware and ink from a third party.

Posted by:

17 Nov 2016

Was gonna get duped by HP by buying their ink, but then I said to myself: "now this can't be right... Printer complained about Cyan..changed the Cyan to a new Jarbo one; no complaints about that one. But then printer complained about Yellow..changed it to a new Jarbo yellow, now complaining about both new C and Y??! Something's fishy here..."

Googled, downgraded firmware via James's link, and voila. Printer works like a charm.

Posted by:

21 Nov 2016

I found a simple solution. I ditched my HP and bought an Epson all in one. Ink prices are lower and cartirages larger. I haven't resorted to third party yet. Are you listening HP???

Posted by:

T. Dwight Blix
27 Nov 2016

So "PEOED" at HP for this. In addition to print problems at the most inconvenient times, paid way more than the Printer to buy more overpriced HP original cartridges in desperation.
Won't buy another HP just for this reason. Thanks so much for the quick fix. Much appreciated!

Posted by:

26 Jan 2017

I have a DesignJet T520 that was affected by the HP firmware upgrade despite the use of authentic HP cartridges.

The fix I used was to download an August 2016 firmware file, direct from the HP support site.

Prior to that I read an "explanation" of the issue from a Sep 2016 note from Jon Flaxman, HP COO. https://newsblog.ext.hp.com/t5/HP-newsroom-blog/Dedicated-to-the-best-printing-experience/ba-p/451

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