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Canon is getting away with printers that won’t scan sans ink — but HP might pay

Canon is getting away with printers that won’t scan sans ink — but HP might pay


Remember when Canon got sued? The plaintiffs settled, I’m afraid.

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A white and gray multifunction printer with a silver HP logo up top and a purple piece of paper coming out the front that reads “6 months free ink.”
Image: HP

Were you hoping Canon might be held accountable for its all-in-one printers that mysteriously can’t scan when they’re low on ink, forcing you to buy more? Tough: the lawsuit we told you about last year quietly ended in a private settlement rather than becoming a big class-action.

I just checked, and a judge already dismissed David Leacraft’s lawsuit in November, without Canon ever being forced to show what happens when you try to scan without a full ink cartridge. (Numerous Canon customer support reps wrote that it simply doesn’t work.)

Here’s the good news: HP, an even larger and more shameless manufacturer of printers, is still possibly facing down a class-action suit for the same practice.

As Reuters reports, a judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit by Gary Freund and Wayne McMath that alleges many HP printers won’t scan or fax documents when their ink cartridges report that they’ve run low.

Among other things, HP tried to suggest that Freund couldn’t rely on the word of one of HP’s own customer support reps as evidence that HP knew about the limitation. But a judge decided it was at least enough to be worth exploring in court.

“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that HP had a duty to disclose and had knowledge of the alleged defect,” wrote Judge Beth Labson Freeman, in the order denying almost all of HP’s current attempts to dismiss the suit. (You can read it at the bottom of this story.)

Interestingly, neither Canon nor HP spent any time trying to argue their printers do scan when they’re low on ink in the lawsuit responses I’ve read. Perhaps they can’t deny it? Epson, meanwhile, has an entire FAQ dedicated to reassuring customers that it hasn’t pulled that trick since 2008. (Don’t worry, Epson has other forms of printer enshittification.)

HP does seem to be covering its rear in one way. The company’s original description on Amazon for the Envy 6455e claimed that you could scan things “whenever”:

“Print, scan and copy from your phone—whenever, wherever.”
“Print, scan and copy from your phone—whenever, wherever.”
Image: Amazon and HP via lawsuit complaint

But when I went back now to check the same product page, it now reads differently: HP no longer claims this printer can scan “whenever” you want it to. Now, we wait to see whether the case can clear the bars needed to potentially become a big class-action trial, or whether it similarly settles like Canon, or any number of other outcomes.

I’m curious: do you have a printer where your scanner won’t scan without ink?