Does it make sense to rent a printer instead of buying one?

ConsumerAffairs

Take a look at the pros and cons of the deal before you go too far

If you think “ugh” when you think about your home printer, the clouds around the cost of ink, maintenance, etc. may have parted… a bit.

Printer sales have been on a decline for a while, most likely due to the rise of paperless alternatives like PDFs and people moving the way they compute towards mobile devices, where they can share those paperless alternatives.

And that trend has put the hurt on companies like Hewlett-Packard (HP), whose bread gets buttered with all those ink cartridges we buy. Now, the company thinks it’s got a way to make printers hip again: rent ‘em!

For $6.99 a month – $83.88 a year – consumers who sign up for the All-In Plan will get a printer shipped to their doorstep, 20 pages of prints a month, auto-shipped ink cartridges, and technical support. Everything you need “to keep your printer running like new,” in the words of HP.

And, if things go wrong and HP can’t solve the problem over the phone, it will send you a replacement printer the next business day at no cost.

Good or bad deal?

If $6.99 sounds like something worth pursuing, you need to take into account that $6.99 only includes one printer – the HP Envy. The Envy is a good printer, selling for around $175 on Amazon and far better than an entry-level one you could get for $50 at Target.

It’s adequate for basic printing, but if you want to do advanced printing, like photos, or do more than 20 pages a month, you’ll need to move up a level or two to more powerful printers and higher volume plans which could cost as much as $12.99 a month. 

Another concern is that this is a subscription deal. That means that you’re locked into a two-year rental agreement.

By the time you pay for that subscription, you’re out $167.66, the same you would’ve paid for a decent printer. If you’re someone who prefers not to be tied down by long-term contracts, you need to think about this.

And if you do sign up and decide to cancel after the first 30 days and before the end of your contract, you’re looking at as much as $270 in cancellation fees.

Other factors

Other points you need to consider are:

  • Will you use more than 20 pages a month?

  • The fact that the subscription service does not cover the repair and replacement of parts, which could result in additional expenses for the user if the printer goes haywire.

  • Privacy. This, for some, could kill their interest. Even though a user can opt out of sharing personal data, many consumers don’t even take the time to do that. In HP’s situation, users should understand that the All-In-Plan’s privacy policy allows the company all sorts of freedom – to share information with advertisers, debt collectors, insurance providers, etc.

Cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and privacy implications can be a letdown, so before you sign on the dotted line, read the FAQs, weigh these factors against the convenience and support promised by the subscription service before saying “yes.”

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