I take back everything I said about Hewlett Packard having decent technical support.

After I reported on the error I’ve had on my replacement unit I rang HP support and spoke to a nice IT guy. We ran through all the troubleshooting problems and when they didn’t work, they agreed to replace my unit.  They took all the details and assured me my replacement would be delivered within 5 working days. Great!

Except, not great. After receiving and hearing nothing for more than two weeks, I rang HP back. I foolishly assumed that giving my name and address would be sufficient to identify me, but they wanted the customer number and insisted it was impossible to find me any other way. I didn’t have the number handy so I had to hang up and call back after I rooted around and found it.

So, I call back armed with my customer number, but it turns out this isn’t enough to identify me either. Or rather, they know its me, but they don’t have a record of the serial number of my printer (which I provided during my original tech call), and so cannot help me at all unless I provide that too. Unsurprisingly I don’t have that to hand either, so I hang up yet again and call back when I’ve read the number from the printer.

Except this time when calling back to their delightful and barely comprehensible indian call centre, I find out that actually, no, I can’t replace the printer because they have determined that its out of warranty. I can’t remember the exact date I received the replacement but I’m pretty sure its been about a year, so if I’m not in warranty, it’s only by a whisker.

But wait, hang on, the lady then tells me that my replacement unit only comes with a 3 month warranty from the date it’s replaced. What? The original printer was covered for a year, and the replacement is only covered for 3 months? Given that my original printer fucked up only 6 months after getting it, this means my total warranty has been a mere 9 months. How the hell does that work?

Since they’re not moving on the idea of replacing it, I ask what my options are now. I’m told that I can either get it repaired, or they’ll give me a discount voucher to buy a replacement. So, I ask, ‘How much to repair it?’. ‘ one three one pounds sir’. £131?! THE FUCKING PRINTER DOESN’T COST THAT MUCH TO BUY NEW.

With little other option, I then ask about the voucher. Turns out that’ll grant me a mere 20% off an HP printer I can buy elsewhere. 20% off a printer that might fuck up within 6 months, only to have a replacement under warranty fuck up less than a year later? Fuck that.

I feel another letter coming on.

If you’re getting this error on an HP Officejet 6310 or another of Hewlett Packard’s ‘All-in-one’ series of printers, then I have some bad news for you.

Your printer is broken, perhaps irrecoverably. HP cartridges have expiry dates on them (check yours) after which the printer will not accept the cartridge for use. The error appears to relate to this ‘feature’, except it is erroneous because the carts are still very much in date. It looks like a hardware error that makes it think that all carts are invalid. I first experienced this error about 6 months after buying the printer, and dilligently followed the instructions and replaced the right-hand cartridge (the black one). Imagine my annoyance when the error remained, because HP cartridges aren’t cheap.

Officejet 6310 All-in-one

Officejet 6310 All-in-one

I rang HP technical support, and after trying a few obvious troubleshooting measures, they agreed to replace the unit under warranty. A new unit arrived, I gave the old one back, put my old cartridge into it and everything was fine.

Then, a year later, the same error pops up on my replacement unit. Again I ring HP tech support, again we can’t fix it, and again they agree to send out a replacement.

Obviously there is something fundamentally wrong with the HP All-in-one series, as I’ve seen this error reported for a variety of models. In fairness to HP, their tech support responds quickly and are generally happy to replace the unit without too many questions about when you bought it. If you tell them it’s still under warranty, you’ll be ok. I personally assert that since this isn’t a wear and tear failure, but some design flaw that eventually appears regardless of how much you use it, then they’re honour-bound to replace it regardless of whether it’s in the warranty period.

If you’d like to save some time before ringing HP, try their troubleshooting tip: Hold down the 6 and # (also the ‘space’ key) keys on the printer’s keypad, and turn the printer off. Keep those keys held down, and turn the printer back on. This restores everything to factory defaults and you’ll be asked to reselect your language options. Let go of the 6 and # keys and do that. In some cases this has cleared the error, but has never worked for me. A couple of people have also reported that replacing the cartridge does clear the error, but that didn’t work for me, and I’m opposed to the idea that you’d have to junk a half-full and otherwise perfectly good (expensive) cart just to satisfy a quirk of a buggy printer.

I’ve had a look around the web for more information on this error, and there isn’t much to go on. There is a suggestion that the internal memory of the printer (and thus the memory which holds information about invalid cartridges) can be reset by removing a battery on the internal chip-board. If my theory about what causes this error is correct, resetting the memory might fix it. I’ve seen this as a successful ‘fix’ for other models of HP printer, but can’t comment on how effective (or legal) it might be. If you have any experience or feedback on this error or fixes, please leave a comment.