The Electronic Frontier Foundation has revealed that in late 2016 or early 2017 printer giant Epson began sending deceptive updates to users’ printers under the guise that the updates were software or security improvements. In fact, the EFF claims, the updates were nothing more than Epson giving its printers the ability to reject third-party ink refills.
Many people opt to buy third-party ink refills for their printers because they can save a fortune over the high markups Epson and other printer companies charge for their name-brand ink refills. While it’s understandable that a printer company would want users buying its own ink, purposely crippling a product after a user buys it–and doing so under the guise of a software update that purportedly improves the printer’s function–is a bit dastardly.
And it also may be illegal. The EFF says it has now alerted the Texas Attorney General’s office about the many state statutes Epson may be violating (Epson’s antics were discovered by a person in Texas, who then alerted the EFF). The EFF will also contact other states’ AGs if it has proof from users that Epson or other printer companies have used the same underhanded tactics in those states too.