FTC warns console and smartphone makers against limiting consumer warranties


"Companies can't void a consumer's warranty or deny warranty coverage exclusively because the consumer uses a part made by someone else or gets someone not authorized by the company to perform service on the product", said FTC official Lesley Fair.

Tech companies aren't allowed to void your warranty just because you removed a sticker-regardless of what that sticker might say.

Limiting a warranty based on any of those restrictions is actually illegal in the U.S., classes as deceptive under the FTC Act, and is prohibited by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

The FTC didn't say which specific companies it sent letters to, but did mention they include firms that market and sell automobiles, cellular devices, and gaming systems in the United States. In its letters, the agency provided three examples of what it deems to be "questionable provisions" found on different products.

Companies can't put warranty stickers on their products and claim the warranty is void if you remove the sticker, the FTC says.

In each case, the company states its products must not use unauthorized parts or service, be used with products not sold or licensed by the company, or have had a warranty seal altered, defaced, or removed. These stickers are often used to discourage consumers from performing DIY repairs, or going through third-party services.

According to the FTC, those types of provisions are generally prohibited unless a company provides free parts replacement and repairs, or has received a waiver from the FTC.

The illegal act here is companies appearing to "tie warranty coverage to consumers' use of authorized parts or service". TO BE CLEAR: It's not just the stickers that are illegal - it's any suggestion from any company saying consumers can not keep warrantys for products they've gotten fixed or worked on with non-original-brand parts or services. 30 days from now, the FTC will carry out a review and "law enforcement action" if the relevant changes have not been made. Apple recently landed itself in the spotlight again for disabling iPhone 8s that were using third-party displays after being repaired at unlicensed shops.