Report: #678861

Complaint Review: Adaptive Ink

  • Submitted: Wed, January 05, 2011
  • Updated: Tue, December 18, 2012
  • Reported By: Jerry — Austin Texas USA
  • Adaptive Ink
    8601 W Cross Drive, F5 #165
    Littleton, Colorado
    United States of America

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January 03, 2011

This article uses the HP 940 ink cartridge in the HP Officejet Pro 8500A printer as a reference. My comments regarding Adaptive Ink are only related to the HP8500A printer and their Mini-Pro Series CISS (continuous ink supply system).

The last time I looked, ink was marked up 100 times from bulk ink to the price charged in the retail stores. Ink cost is a concern for most of us. We have considerations here.
* The ink jet printer manufacturer diserves an opportunity to cover the cost of research and development.
* With programmable ink cartridges the manufacturer can extend their profits beyond the patent. Profits can be abusive.

Ink cartridges now have chips in them. Why? Would that be comparable to building a programmable chip in a coffee cup so you know when it is almost empty. Then you would have to buy a new cup if you want more coffee. Thank goodness your coffee cup is not connected to your computer but with wireless technology it could be done. Try using the coffee cup twice and your computer shuts down.

The ink jet cartridge manufacturer and Adaptive Ink are in competition with each other. The ink jet cartridge manufacturer may have an advantage since they make the ink cartridge and program the chip inside the ink cartridge. Therefore in the light of a competitive market it may be necessary for Adaptive Ink to cheat a little. Maybe some of their ink systems work good and others don't. How can Adaptive Ink or any similar company keep up with and circumvent the programming in each cartridge chip or the design of the cartridge?

I have the Adaptive Ink Mini-Pro Series CISS (continuous ink supply system) connected to my HP 8500A printer. After 100 photos (4" x 5") and 400 low coverage prints the Mini-Pro Series system has lost 4.5 grams. So ink is being sucked into the ink cartridge inside the printer. At this point the printer indicates there is 70% ink left.

Keep in mind that the original HP 940 cartridge chip is now part of the Adaptive Ink Mini-Pro Series CISS system. The head assembly is removed from the original ink cartridge and installed on the cartridge that comes with the Adaptive Ink Mini-Pro Series CISS cartridge. So the chip stays with the printer and it will anticipate low ink based on the estimated ink used on the printer by the HP940 cartridge chip. Keep in mind the HP 940XL cartridge holds more ink and its chip will be programmed accordingly.

If the HP 8500A onboard computer is accurate I am getting economical printing and this information has nothing to do with the external ink supply since the information is derived from the original ink cartridge chip. Now if the computer will still use the printer when the low ink indicator activates, we will be doing great. I am not optimistic. There are many things this chip can do. It can slow down the printer to a snail's pace and it force you to hit a few buttons on the printer to complete each printed page. By law HP cannot program the printer to stop but there are many things that can be done to fault the system and force the purchase of another ink cartridge set.

Adaptive Ink was informative prior to purchase but even then, they avoided the question of what happens when the low ink indicator is activated. I have emailed them several times and called them several times and they evade the question. Either they don't know or they are not telling. Once, they returned a call when they did not know what the question would be. When I mentioned "low ink indicator" they said they were busy and would have to call me back the next day. We then continued to talk long enough to have answered the question. They never called back.

So at this point in time I have low expectations for the HP 8500A and the Adaptive Ink Mini-Pro Series CISS external ink supply system. Adaptive Ink is operating under some unique conditions where they never answer the phone and only call back on selective calls. They also only answer selective emails. It appears to me the technology to defeat the high cost of ink is still in its primitive state and any company trying to beat the system cannot survive and be ethical at the same time. So, I ask, are they less ethical than the printer ink jet cartridge manufacturer who is striving to maintain a 10,000% markup on ink.

My advice? I would purchase the HP 8500A and then, when needed, buy the HP 940XL cartridges. This would buy you a lot of color printing and give you time to see what direction external ink supplies go. At this point my cartridge chips indicate I have about 65% to 70% of the ink left.

Hopefully, others will contribute with their results. I will update this review when my printer fails or succeeds.

Date of this review: January 03, 2011

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Updates & Rebuttals


#1 Consumer Comment

Adaptive Ink / HP Officejet Pro 8500

AUTHOR: Mike - ()

 I've been a satisfied user of Adaptive ink's refill system for well over two years now and appreciate many of the issues Jerry experienced with the same HP printer. The fault is however, not with Adaptive but with HP. HP tries to manipulate and pressure their customers to use their proprietary cartridges almost to the point of extortion.

HP parses their words carefully to insinuate your machine is going to irrepairably fail if you don't use their ink, their fresh ink, their fresh, expensive ink..... Yet, if I just keep following their instructions (as Adaptive indicated in their response)  and basically keep hitting OK when prompted, my messages always go away.

Mike B

with no association to Adaptive what-so-ever.



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#2 REBUTTAL Owner of company

In addition, HP 940 or 940XL Cartridges DO NOT expire!

AUTHOR: 4yourinfo - (United States of America)

The HP 940 or 940XL cartridges will continue to print after the "Estimated Ink Level" tells you they are "empty" as long as they still HAVE ink in them. The cartridge will only stop printing when the ink truly is depleted from the cartridge. You can identify this by looking at the black rubber bulb pump on the cartridge. If the bulb is "sucked-in" (concave) then all the ink has been sucked out of the cartridge. However, if you put ink back inside the cartridge the bulb will pop back out and will continue to print.

NEVER try to inject ink into the cartridge through the cartridge port! There is a one-way valve that will not permit ink to flow into the cartridge bladder, the bulb will expand and can burst.

Our Externally Refillable Cartridges have a tethered refill port allowing for cartridge bladders to be refilled and our other products have volume bladder or Tank systems attached to the cartridges.

If you haven't tried swapping the bottoms of full and empty cartridges, give it a try. Its like having two coffee cups that are labeled "FULL" and "EMPTY".  One coffee cup is full of hot coffee and labeled that way and the other is empty and labeled empty. Just because you swap the labels doesn't mean the empty cup is now full and the full cup is now empty. In the same way, the Smart Chip on the cartridge DOES NOT know how much ink is in the cartridge!

There are some Epson cartridges (T126 for example) that have a "fuse" that will blow when the last drop of ink goes out of the cartridge. When that happens a vacuum is created moving a plunger that makes electrical contact and shorts out the chip.

The HP 940, or 940XL DO NOT do this and will continue to function indefinitely. If you have a newer HP 8100 or HP 8600 series printer the HP 950/951 cartridges also DO NOT expire! Same goes for the printers that use the HP 932/933 cartridges.
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#3 REBUTTAL Owner of company

What this person and many other consumers don't understand...

AUTHOR: 4yourinfo - (United States of America)

The Smart Chips on nearly all ink cartridges DO NOT monitor the level of ink inside the cartridge!

The printers software only estimates the ink level using a calculation per ISO/IEC 24711 standard as the Smart Chip does a pre-programmed countdown to "empty". Actually, the whole concept of "ink level monitoring" for printer cartridges is BOGUS!

Here's a simple test that proves (in this case the HP 940, or 940XL) that the "Smart Chip" does not monitor ink levels inside the cartridges:

1)  Remove the same color cartridge bottom from a Brand New HP 940 ink cartridge and place it onto a same color near empty HP cartridge. The near empty cartridge with the Brand New bottom (with chip on it) will now display as FULL!

2)  Remove the same color cartridge bottom from a near empty HP 940 cartridge and place it on a Brand New cartridge. The Brand New HP 940 cartridge with the near empty bottom (with chip) will display as EMPTY!

HP even states on all of their printer ink level displays "Estimated ink level, actual levels may vary".

If you still do not believe us, please go to HP's own website and read this page about "Ink Expiration" and which printers have empty ink level overrides (all new HP printers do).

Look down at the very bottom for this override statement, quote:

"Override - you can continue printing without replacing the ink cartridge, by following instructions on the printer, in the user manual, or in the ink cartridge expiration message on the computer screen."
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#4 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Correction to my rebuttal...

AUTHOR: 4yourinfo - (United States of America)


"The HP 940XL Black cartridge only contain 49mL of ink.Both of these cartridges (XL and non-XL) were designed to hold and can hold a total volume of 28mL. HP originally filled these cartridges (when they were also used for the #10 cartridges) to the 68mL volume."

This shoud read 68mL.


Games HP plays

There are 2 different versions of the 940 series cartridges.  The HP 940, and the more full of ink version, the HP 940XL.  Prices vary, so keep your eyes open.

HP 940 Black 22ml or $1.18 per ml of ink

HP 940XL Black 49ml or .73 per ml of ink

There are also versions of the 940XL color cartridges as well, but the difference is much smaller:

HP 940 Color 10ml, or $1.99 per ml of ink

HP 940XL Color 16ml, or $1.62 per ml of ink

If you print mostly black, make sure to set your printer driver to black only printers will use color ink when printing black only documents unless you tell it otherwise (driver setting).  Obviously if you can get cartridges for less, the cost per ml will change more in your favor.

Just an excerp from the FREEDOMTOPRINT.COM link from my previous rebuttal.
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#5 REBUTTAL Owner of company

HP has done a generous job of providing much more inkNOT!

AUTHOR: 4yourinfo - (United States of America)

Jerry must be using an HP calculator.

Lets look at the FACTS and then add the numbers:The HP 940 (non-XL) Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan cartridges only contain 10mL of ink.

The HP 940XL Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan cartridges only contain 16mL of ink.Both of these cartridges (XL and non-XL) were designed to hold and can hold a total volume of 28mL. HP originally filled these cartridges (when they were also used for the #10 cartridges) to the 28mL volume.The HP 940 (non-XL) Black cartridge only contain 22mL of ink.

The HP 940XL Black cartridge only contain 49mL of ink.Both of these cartridges (XL and non-XL) were designed to hold and can hold a total volume of 28mL. HP originally filled these cartridges (when they were also used for the #10 cartridges) to the 68mL volume.

Dont believe these numbers? Heres a link to an independent report from

Let's do the calculation:

A set of four (Black, Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan) HP 940XL cartridges equals 97mL total (3x 16mL + 1x 49mL).

The current cost (3/26/2012) for a new set of these cartridges on is close to $97.00.

Thats equals $1.00/mL.

Adaptive Inks set of Externally Refillable 940XL Cartridges are filled to their full capacity of 152mL total (3x 28mL + 1x 68mL).

The cost of our set of genuine HP cartridges that are easily refillable through an external tethered port is $46.60.

Thats equals .28 cents/mL and our Refill Kits for them are:

500mL = $70.10, or .14 cents/mL.

1,000mL = $105.14, or .11 cents/mL.

We do not respond to Jerry because we have considered the mental health of Jerry and his continued efforts to liable and slander our business with these types of online attacks.
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#6 Author of original report

Overall cost

AUTHOR: Jerry - (USA)

Ive calculated the cost of ink over a period of one year now. Even if the Adaptive ink supply kits worked it is not a savings. HP has done a generous job of providing much more ink in the HP Office Jet Pro 8500A 940XL cartridges. I took a significant loss when considering the ruptured ink bladder that spilled on my desk and floor. The existing work load rating of the HP 8500A printer and the cost of the 940XL cartridges are in an equitable balance. 

I was told they would send me another kit under warrantee. I knew they were lying through their teeth and did not anticipate the arrival.  Naturally, it never arrived even though I offered to pay for it. 

The customer relations are astonishing. While we are tempted to complain, it might be wise to consider the mental health of anyone forced to survive under such a code of ethics.
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#7 Consumer Comment

I Too Have Recieved TERRIBLE Service From Adaptive Ink - their product did $100's in damage to my printer

AUTHOR: Aaron WI - (United States of America)

I have to concur with Jerry in that Adaptive Ink provides TERRIBLE customer service.  They are quick to answer calls and emails in order to get your money, but when their system destroys your printer, they will ignore you.

I purchased their most expensive 'Pro' system for my HP8500 printer.  Let me start by saying that I LOVE the idea of this system and I really, truly wished that it would have worked.  However, immediately after arrival the problems began.

One of the color lines came with excessive air bubbles in the bladder/lines.  This took out a printhead right away.  Also, the cartridge for the color had some kind of manufacturing defect (which I was informed happens 'alot' apparently????) that allowed a large volume of yellow ink to flood through the printer, across the desk, and down onto our carpet.  After several call and emails, they DID replace that line, printhead, and cartridge. 

Immediately after this, the red line began destroying printheads; 9 to be exact (at $40 each I might add).  After repeated calls and emails, I was able to have a couple of discussions with Ken.  Again, I was told it could be a defect in the product (air in the bladders again) and then I was accused of doing the damage myself (not quite sure where he pulled that one out of???).  Apparently their system develops air leaks and it's my responsibility to try and monitor this and then perform some type of purging process with a special syringe tool they would send out (they never did send the tool out!).

The final conversations I had with them involved them promising to replace the printheads that their product damaged.  This still has not happened; nearly 1 year later.  They refuse to return phone calls (boy, I'd 'screen' my calls too if my company had this poor of customer service!) or emails. 

A report was sent in to the BBB concerning their conduct.  Of course they gushed and swooned to them about how they wanted to take care of the problem and that I was not 'cooperating' with them (an utter lie of course....again, I have all of the emails and correspondance to prove it).  The final outcome was that they refused to proceed as directed by the BBB and I was instructed to pursue legal recourse against them (the BBB's only recourse is to dock their 'credit score'; which they did).

I'm sure Adaptive will come back on here and claim how they have '10's of thousands of satisfied customers' (the line the was used in nearly every conversation with them).  I can't see it.  Not with this poor of customer service.  Not with this poor of a product.  They may tout 'happy customers', but they sure didn't show any business ethics in their dealings with us.  And I have copies of all the emails to prove it.  All they would have had to do was answer the phone and fulfill the basic promises that they made to me (which I explained over and over and over to them). But that didn't happen. 
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#8 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Response to: Adaptive Ink Questionable support Littleton, Colorado

AUTHOR: 4yourinfo - (United States of America)

Yes, most ink cartridges have chips (Smart Chips) on them, but Jerry’s coffee cup analogy and understanding of the HP 940/940XL cartridge and its chip is somewhat incorrect and misleading. I must respond in an attempt to clarify the actual number and educate the consumer.

Using Jerry’s coffee cup analogy, I will try to breakdown the cost, and describe the chip, ink level reset, and even Adaptive Ink’s ink quality.

You would like 4 cups of coffee. You order and pay for the 4 cups upfront, at a discounted price than is 75% less than if you purchased the 4 cups one at a time. However, you don’t want your coffee to get cold while you are drinking it, so you ask the waiter to initially bring you 1 cup. Then, very discreetly, the waiter keeps your cup filled as you are drinking it (without
interrupting you), until you have finished the entire 4 cups you originally ordered. And when you are ready for 4 more cups in the future, you repeat the process, prepaying for 4 cups once again at the deeply discounted price.

In a similar fashion to the continuously refilled coffee cup mentioned above (for grins, let’s call it a “CRCC”), there are 400 milliliters (400mL) total ink volume in an Adaptive Ink Mini-Pro CISS, as compared to 97mL total ink volume (16mL each color & 49mL black) in a set of HP 940XL OEM cartridges. The cost of an Adaptive Ink Mini-Pro CISS on the website is $114.95
and a set of 940XL cartridges can cost between $95.00 (Amazon) and $131.00 (HP store). This means that, through Adaptive Ink’s Mini-Pro CISS, you receive four times the volume of ink for approximately the same cost as a single OEM
cartridge set. This saves you at least 75% on your ink costs. And with the Pro-Series CISSs Adaptive Ink sells, the savings is even greater!

Jerry is correct that his HP 940 cartridge chips are now  part of his purchased Adaptive Ink CISS and his system is transferring the ink from the external ink reservoirs (protected, sealed ink bags) to the cartridges, and to the print heads. Jerry’s printer’s software is telling him there is 70% ink remaining. However, Jerry (like many consumers) is misinterpreting what this “estimated ink level” is displaying. The chip has no way of knowing how much ink is actually in the cartridges … and I can prove it.

Here’s the proof: (I challenge Jerry, and anyone to do this simple experiment.)

  1. Take two of the same 940 or 940XL cartridges of the same color: one near empty (make sure the black rubber bladder on the cartridge has NOT sucked in, and note the ink level), and one brand new cartridge.

  2. With a marker, put an “X” on the near empty one (in two places, on the cartridge shell and on the bottom).

  3. Cut the cartridge labels and unsnap the bottoms from the two cartridges.

  4. Now swap the bottoms to the alternate cartridges, by snapping the shells and bottoms together.

  5. Place the full cartridge (without “X”) and the bottom (with “X”) in your printer.
Result: The “full cartridge” reads the same level as the near empty one.

6.  Remove the previous cartridge and place the near empty cartridge (with “X”) and the bottom
     (without “X”) in your printer.

Result: The near empty cartridge now reads full!

Conclusion: The chip DOES NOT monitor the ink level inside the cartridges. All the chip does is count down to zero and reports this counting down to the printer’s software. Using the ISO/IEC 24711 standard the “estimated” ink volume is displayed. The ink level display even says, and I quote: “Estimated ink level, actual levels may vary.”

Printer manufacturers used to be able to disable printing when their Smart Chips calculated the cartridge was “empty”. I’m sure many of you have seen this in the past. You took out the cartridge only to discover that you could still feel ink inside the cartridge.

Next, third-party manufacturer’s started making Auto-resettable chips known as ARC chips. A few years ago, the printer
manufacturers lost a class-action lawsuit that now prevents them from disabling printers when they “estimate” the cartridge is empty. The HP series 8000, 8500, and 8500a series of printers have Smart Chips that DO NOT expire, and as far as
anyone can predict never will. Since they do not expire, there is no incentive for third-party ARC chip manufactures to make one for these series of printers.

Ink Level Reset
Since there are no ARC chips for the 940/940XL cartridges, and the Smart Chips cannot be reset using a chip resetter, the ink levels on your printer display(s) will not “reset”, whether you choose to refill the ink cartridge or use an Adaptive Ink CISS. The only time the ink level WILL reset, is when you put in a brand new OEM cartridge. However, as we have calculated above, it
is less expensive using an Adaptive Ink CISS than purchasing OEM cartridges.

Adaptive Ink’s Ink Quality
Adaptive Ink uses OEM-Equivalent inks that are produced by a USA leader in specialty ink technology that is a leading supplier to the major OEM inkjet printer market.

Troubleshooting for HP 8500/8500a Printers

When the smart chip countdown begins to get low, you will see the following messages as the printer’s software estimates each cartridge is running low and depleted on ink:

Warming Up… (First message that scrolls across the display screen)
“The original HP ink in the following cartridge has been depleted: Color [X]. Information about ink levels will not be available. Press ? for more information.”

  • Press the forward arrow (?) to the right of the OK button.
Warming Up… (Second message that scrolls across the display screen)
“Printer failure or damage attributed to the use of non-HP or refilled ink cartridge will not be covered under warranty. Replace ink cartridge or press OK to continue.”

  • Press the OK button.

Note: The ink level graphic on the printer’s display or the software ink level graphic are “Estimated ink levels. Actual levels may vary.” The symbol or character above each ink level represents:

  • A check mark (√) = The ink level is estimated above 10% remaining.

  • An exclamation mark (!) = The ink level is estimated below 10% remaining.

  • A Red Box with an X, or a Question mark (?) = The cartridge ink pump hassucked-in (ink is completely depleted).
The Ink level bar is the remaining smart chip countdown graphically estimating the ink level of its cartridge.

How do I (actually we) know all this…WE ARE Adaptive Ink.

To Jerry’s point of Adaptive Ink “not knowing or not telling” the answer to his question, we ask and direct all customers to view our website with our VERY extensive FAQ page. (The FAQ page was initially live circa June 2010). While only Jerry can know what he personally considers to be ethical, we can assure you we have thousands of customers in tens of countries that are very satisfied with our products and our service. I am sure you will concede that we are far from the only business on the planet to use a voicemail service, in order to take phone messages while on the factory floor. However, our customers (and Jerry, we include you in this) actually have to leave a voicemail message as requested in order for us to know that they have called and what they are calling about. (We think this is a reasonable request, don’t you?) Add to this that we are saving our customers at least 75% of their consumable ink costs, and you can see why most people are very eager to do business with us. We may not be perfect all the time, but who is? Rest assured that we are always striving to provide the best current product line (and future products in development) for the consumer who we agree IS being exploited by the OEM ink price.

So in the end Jerry is advising you, the consumer, to purchase ink that is at least 75% more expensive, simply to punish Adaptive Ink for not answering a question to his satisfaction or perhaps level of understanding … a question that was already responded to in detail on our website at the time. I don’t know about you, but as a business person I don’t allow personal feelings to sway my opinion enough to pay 75% more for an item. You, the consumer reading this, simply must decide for yourself if buying ink is a business matter for you, or a way to participate in Jerry’s personal vendetta. Adaptive Ink has confidence that you will make the right decision.
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