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FTC tells three companies they can’t void warranties or deny warranty service if others make repairs

Auto-repair-gd977860bf_640When a consumer product goes bad – whether it’s a motor vehicle, home appliance, or something else – and it’s under warranty, you may want to take it to where you purchased it for repair. Or, you may choose an independent repair shop or a do-it-yourself solution.

The choice is yours, according to the Federal Trade Commission or FTC. Companies that void your warranty for choosing an independent shop or to fix it yourself may be breaking the law.

The FTC announced settlements with three companies – Harley-Davidson motorcycles, MWE Investments, which makes Westinghouse-brand outdoor power generators, and Weber-Stephen Products, maker of Weber grills. The FTC’s lawsuits allege that the companies violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

The act says that companies can’t void your warranty or deny warranty coverage because you use a part made by another company or because you get repairs done or other services from someone not associated with the company, unless the company provides the part or service for free under the warranty. Companies may, however, refuse warranty coverage for defects or damage caused by using third-party parts or third-party services.

For example, if the product you bought needs a repair covered by your warranty, a company can’t refuse to make the repair simply because you previously brought it to an independent shop for a different repair or maintenance.

All three companies broke the law by telling customers that their warranties would be void if they got parts or repairs from anyone except the companies or their authorized dealers, according to the FTC.

The proposed settlements bar the companies from telling customers that their warranties will be void if they use third-party parts or services. The companies also will need to revise their warranties to include language such as, “Taking our product to be serviced by a repair shop that is not affiliated with or an authorized dealer of [Company] will not void this warranty. Also, using third-party parts will not void this warranty.” And, the companies also are required tell customers whose products are under warranty about the settlement.

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azure

A step in the right direction. There is or was a push to get state legislatures to pass, "right to repair" laws, so that, for example, people were able to replace the batteries in their Iphones themselves or by non-Apple stores (I've read that Apple wouldn't even allow Apple trained people to do repair work had to be Apple owned store staff). Unfortunately, I don't think the fairly recent push (a year or two ago? Maybe longer) was successful in that many states, I think it failed in my state. Congresswoman Warren has pushed for mandating (or an agreement by the tech sector) that phone (and probably tablets/Ipads, and laptops) chargers & connectors be standardized so that all use USB-C. Some of the tech industry is protesting--but the EU has already passed law requiring the switch to all USB-C, so there's a very large market for which the tech people will already have to make that move; for them to fight in the US is silly/objecting just for the sake of objecting.

Glad to see the Biden administration is a bit more interested in protecting rights of "consumers".

Rita

About 25 states have considered right-to-repair laws in the last couple of years. However, few have passed. Massachusetts has one. The New York State Senate has approved the Digital Fair Repair Act, which will expand consumer access to parts, tools, and information to repair personal electronics. The act was approved June 3 by a vote of 145-1. After the governor signs it, it will go into effect in a year.

US-PIRG continues to work on the issue as do other groups.

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