A user tortured HP support and changed the region setting on an HP OfficeJet printer after moving across the ocean

Short description

A user has shared a detailed account of how to reset region settings on an HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 printer after moving to another country. Nathan Edwards had difficulty after moving from the Netherlands to the US and coming up against region blocking on his printer. Following five months of communication with various HP technical support staff members, Edwards eventually found a friendly support engineer called John who was able to provide the necessary codes and keys to reset the printer. The user was then gifted a free high-capacity black ink cartridge by HP.

A user tortured HP support and changed the region setting on an HP OfficeJet printer after moving across the ocean

User Nathan Edwards revealed how to torture HP technical support over a long period of time (from September 2021 to February 2022) to allow the manufacturer to change the region settings on the HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 multifunction inkjet printer after moving to another continent.

Edwards bought the printer in the Netherlands for $213. He used the device at home, everything suited him. In April 2020, a user bought a set of replacement printer cartridges for $93.

In the summer of 2021, Edwards moved to the United States. He had extra space in the shipping container, so instead of selling the printer and buying a new one in the US, he decided to bring the device with him. Of the problems after the move, there was only one related to the need to change the power cable to the American version.

After a while, Edwards’ printer ran out of color cartridges. He bought a new set of original HP cartridges for $207. After installing them, the printer refused to print on the new cartridges due to region blocking.

Edwards created an account on HP’s support website and registered his printer. The system said it was out of warranty, and the tech support offered to buy new cartridges or join the HP Instant Ink program. This is a monthly ink subscription.

Edwards found out that he has a rare case, as few people bring their printers to the US from Europe. He learned that the region lock of the printer can be reset. All you had to do was submit a warranty claim for new cartridges, get a claim number, connect the printer to your PC with a USB 2.0 cable (USB A to USB B), and then contact HP support.

HP Technical Support asked Edwards to install HP Smart or the full printer software package on the PC and sent instructions to access a secret part in the printer software where the region settings can be reset. All I have to do is hold down Ctrl and Shift and right click on the empty area to the right of the ink level indicator.

It turns out that in this case, you can’t access the advanced options in the ink levels menu in HP Smart because the cartridges are not compatible. There is no ink level indicator on the screen.

After that, HP support asked for the serial number of the printer, the cartridges and suggested that I download the full version of the HP printer software, not HP Smart, and try again.

As a result, the user was able to access the secret “Set New Region” menu. This menu, which warns that it must be used in conjunction with support, lists the printer’s serial number, the total number of pages, the code code, and the nine-digit serial numbers for each of the four cartridges. It has five text input fields at the bottom, labeled 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, and 51.

After receiving the serial numbers, the support service generates five four-digit numbers that must be inserted in fields 41 to 45. The system also creates a five-digit hash in field 51. After that, the user must dictate the data from field 51 to the support service. If it matches field number 51 in their software utility, pressing the Reset Device button resets the printer region.

It turned out not to be so simple. An attempt by HP’s official Twitter support channel to forward the serial numbers resulted in the system overwriting them with asterisks.

Edwards tried to send the serial numbers as plain text with spaces between the numbers. The HP technician was pasting this information into the reset utility, but the tool gave an error and didn’t work. As a result, the first level of technical support via Twitter communication gave up and asked the user to call to further resolve the issue.

An HP support technician told me over the phone that Edwards’ printer was out of warranty. Edwards was transferred to Instant Ink’s support line when he asked if the warranty on the cartridge was valid and asked him to reset the regional settings on the printer so he could use the ink.

An Instant Ink representative said they deal in ink and cartridges, not printers. He transferred Edwards to HP’s general support line. There they listened to the user again and gave the phone number of the HP technical support line.

HP Engineering asked to remotely connect to the PC to run a local script to reset the printer. Edwards refused because the documented procedure for resetting the printer region does not mention anything like that.

The engineers then asked Edwards to dictate the serial numbers of EU and US printer cartridges. Tech support reentered them into their utility and sent a series of reset codes. It turned out that this support team was using the wrong utility because they wanted eight digit serial numbers and the Edwards cartridges had a nine digit code.

It turns out that depending on the software used, there are four possible regions for the HP printer to be regionally locked. Tech Support and Edwards tried them all. It turned out that sometimes field 51 matched the right number, and sometimes it didn’t. In any case, when the user pressed the “Reset device” button, the operation was not performed.

After that, HP support said that maybe it’s the wrong tool, but they don’t have access to any other tools. Edwards was advised to call another HP technical support service at another phone number.

The new support engineering team is also unable to resolve the region reset issue. They were also unable to generate a working reset code. Their idea was to perform a “semi-full reset” of the printer. Edwards agreed to do this, but these actions did not help reset the device’s region. After many hours of communication in HP
offered to send Edwards a new OfficeJet 8210. He declined because he decided to go all the way with his native printer.

After some time, Edwards got tired of struggling with the HP printer and he borrowed it for a while to work with Epson. A few months later, Edwards decided to revisit this region reset problem.

It turned out that in this case Edwards was lucky. He got hold of a friendly support guy, John, who emailed the necessary links to HP’s internal help desk manuals and a code generation utility. But Edwards did not have access to these resources. As a result, after a second attempt to request a remote connection to the user’s PC and being refused, John agreed to watch what the user was doing on the PC screen via a smartphone video call.

Edwards pointed the smartphone at a monitor screen with a region reset dialog so the engineer could make sure the serial numbers were entered correctly. It turned out
that in addition to the printer serial number and the four nine-digit cartridge serial numbers, John needed separate six-digit numbers printed on each cartridge to generate the correct keys. Only then did the HP employee give Edwards the five correct four-digit numbers for fields 41 through 45, and then check field code 51.

After dozens of hours of communication over five months with HP employees under the nicknames Bertrand, Cecile, Ferdinand, Alice and John.

After the reset, the HP support person asked me to turn off the printer, wait one minute, and turn it back on. As a result, the printer turned on correctly and printed a test page.

A week later, Edwards received a package from HP with a free high-capacity black ink cartridge. Since then, the user has not had any problems with the overseas HP OfficeJet Pro 8720.

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