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No More Voiding Warranties for Unauthorized Repairs

If you're going to have a warranty that covers your product, you'd like to be reasonably sure that some third party hasn't been messing with it. For example, if a customer is claiming that your product is malfunctioning and trying to invoke your warranty, you want to be sure the malfunction isn't occurring because some repair shop has been monkeying with the product.

So, you might have included some language in your warranty, voiding it if the customer used an unauthorized repair service, or you could've added a "Warranty Is Void If Broken" sticker or seal on a device. But those days are over, according to the FTC.

Cancelled Coverage

The Federal Trade Commission issued letters to six automobile, cell phone, and video game companies, warning them that warranty conditions that customers use specified parts or service provides to preserve the warranty are likely invalid. "Unless warrantors provide the parts or services for free or receive a waiver from the FTC," the commission said, "such statements generally are prohibited by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a law that governs consumer product warranties."

The FTC provided three examples of such statements, and although it withheld company names on its site, Ars Technica did the legwork (googling) and filled them in:

  • Hyundai's warranty states that "the use of Hyundai Genuine Parts is required to keep your Hyundai manufacturer's warranties and any extended warranties intact";
  • Nintendo's warranty states that "this warranty shall not apply if this product is used with products not sold or licensed by Nintendo";
  • Sony's warranty states that "this warranty does not apply if this product... has had the warranty seal on the PS4™ system altered, defaced, and removed."

Under the FTC warning, all three (and similar warranty statements from other companies) may be considered deceptive under the FTC Act.

Warranty Review

The FTC asked the six companies review their warranty materials and remove statements or implications that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specific parts of services. So, it may be time to update your warranty language as well. Contact a local commercial attorney for help.

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