Since its founding in the 1930s, Hewlett-Packard has been synonymous with innovation, and many’s the engineer who had cause to praise its workhorse oscillators, minicomputers, servers, and PCs. But since the turn of this century, the company’s changed its name to HP and its focus to sleazy ways to part unhappy printer owners from their money. Printer companies have long excelled at this dishonorable practice, but HP is truly an innovator, the industry-leading Darth Vader of sleaze, always ready to strong-arm you into a “deal” and then alter it later to tilt things even further to its advantage.
The company’s just beat its own record, converting its “Free ink for life” plan into a “Pay us $0.99 every month for the rest of your life or your printer stops working” plan.
Plenty of businesses offer some of their products on the cheap in the hopes of stimulating sales of their higher-margin items: you’ve probably heard of the “razors and blades” model (falsely) attributed to Gillette, but the same goes for cheap Vegas hotel rooms and buffets that you can only reach by running a gauntlet of casino “games,” and cheap cell phones that come locked into a punishing, eternally recurring monthly plan.