Wednesday in CE: FTC Slams Six Companies, 'Warranty Void If Removed' Stickers Are Unlawful
The FTC is pushing back against six major six major companies that market and sell automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States, informing them that the 'warranty void if removed' stickers are illegal.
The warning sent out not only scrutinizes their creative language to get around this problem, but it explains that it is also illegal for companies to void a warranty if the consumer fixes the device themselves or via a third party.
Some of the different language used between the companies includes:
- The use of [company name] parts is required to keep your . . . manufacturer’s warranties and any extended warranties intact.
- This warranty shall not apply if this product . . . is used with products not sold or licensed by [company name].
- This warranty does not apply if this product . . . has had the warranty seal on the [product] altered, defaced, or removed.
This has been a hot-button issue, especially for Apple as their latest battery debacle reignited consumers fight for “Right to Repair” legislation. That doesn't mean companies such as Microsoft and Sony aren't also some of the biggest offenders, but Apple has been notoriously on the wrong side of this issue, actively fighting consumers rights even without a sticker. To their credit, Apple has loosened that grip around third-party iPhone screen repairs, honoring in-warranty pricing even with the repair.
The biggest piece of legislation up for debate is the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which the commission cited in its letter, that basically claims companies can't put repair restrictions on their products unless they provide the parts or services for free or receive a waiver from the FTC. They addressed that issue that by stating all consumer electronics that cost more than $15 are covered.
“Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services,” said Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The companies have been given a 30-day notice to update their website and comply with the U.S. federal law before the FTC takes furth action.
It's wouldn't be impossible to guess which six companies are under fire, as mentioned that Apple, Microsoft, and Sony are some of the biggest offenders with the latter two smothering their respective Xbox and PlayStation gaming system in false warnings. The FCC has already cracked down on BMW, settling out of court when manufacturers forced consumers to use MINI authorized dealers for any and all repairs. John Deere is a possible candidate, forcing farmers to load hacked firmware to their equipment for basic maintenance needs.