Any person who performs work on their own electronics knows all about “warranty void if removed” stickers. These stickers serve a purpose for companies who do not want you putzing around with their goods. Of course, there are a variety of reasons companies don’t want you to remove those stickers. Usually, it’s because they would rather you not go trying to fix things yourself. But the FTC is now saying that “warranty void if removed” stickers are illegal and have contacted several companies to inform them of the fact.
The letters warn that FTC staff has concerns about the companies’ statements that consumers must use specified parts or service providers to keep their warranties intact. Unless warrantors provide the parts or services for free or receive a waiver from the FTC, such statements generally are prohibited by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a law that governs consumer product warranties. Similarly, such statements may be deceptive under the FTC Act.
Each company used different language, but here are examples of questionable provisions:
- 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.
“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 FTC is asking these companies to review their promotional and warranty materials to be sure they are in compliance with the law. The FTC is giving them 30-days to make the correct updates and then they will review it.