We’re sure you've seen them before, those little stickers or tags that state the warranty on your product will be voided if it is removed. The idea behind these stickers and labels is to bar consumers from using third-party parts and repair services for the product if they want to keep their guarantee.
You have likely wondered if these warnings are actually enforceable. According to The Federal Trade Commission, these warning labels are illegal. Thomas B. Pahl, the acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, says “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.”
In particular, the agency addressed that the provisions violated the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This act bars companies from using their warranties to demand that consumers use certain articles or services in connection with the original product.
In a press release, the agency said it had sent warning letters to six major companies that market and sell automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States. However, the agency did not name the companies in its statement.
Ars Technica noted that the sample language used in the FTC statement matches the warranty terms found on Hyundai’s, Nintendo’s, and Sony’s websites.
A spokesperson for Hyundai Motor Co. has since acknowledged that the FTC reached out the car company with concerns about some of the language on its website. Hyundai is "currently revising" the language on its website to address the concerns raised by the FTC.
The spokesperson claims “the language on the website was part of a consumer awareness campaign to inform Hyundai vehicle owners of their rights after a collision to ensure that their vehicle is restored to its pre-collision condition…This language does not appear in Hyundai's written warranty terms or anywhere else on hyundaiusa.com."
The FTC has given the six companies it contacted 30 days to address and correct any potential violations on their respective websites. If the violations persist, they "may result in law enforcement action."
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