FTC tells companies they can’t condition warranty coverage based on parts/services

Data Roaming dead after Android 4.3 updateYesterday the United States Federal Trade Commission issued a warning statement to six major manufacturers of automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems. The warnings were about making warranties conditional on not using third party products or services with, or to repair items.

TL;DR – FTC says  manufacturers claiming “you have to use our part and technicians or your warranty is void” doesn’t fly.

The letters expressed that unless the warranters provide the parts and repair services for free or receive a waiver from the FTC, that statements prohibiting the use of third party parts or repairs are generally prohibited under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and as such certain statements in warranty clauses may be deemed as deceptive.

Statements such as:

  • 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.

FTC staff has requested that each company review its promotional and warranty materials to ensure that such materials do not state or imply that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specific parts of services. In addition, FTC staff requests that each company revise its practices to comply with the law. The letters state that FTC staff will review the companies’ websites after 30 days and that failure to correct any potential violations may result in law enforcement action.

FTC Logo
My guess is this is at least partially aimed at Apple in light of their recent battery/slowdown issues and the cost of replacing said batteries, but that second bullet point looks like it’s aimed right at Nintendo and their subsequent bricking when using third party docks.

The question I guess becomes whether companies are going to start putting up with third party modification and repairs, or if they’re just going to do away with anything past a one month warranty to minimize the potential costs associated with third party meddling.

I don’t think many of my friends would have paid the Apple Tax for repairs if it wasn’t contingent on maintaining the warranty when you can get a screen repair for significantly less at a chop shop.

It does make me wonder what happens when they can’t say “don’t use PhoneKiller Batteries” and then you do and it kills your phone. Maybe they’ll get around this with a clause that says warranty only valid if it was our parts that failed.

[FTC and Android Police]

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