FTC makes clear 'warranty void if removed' stickers are illegal

Companies can't prevent you from getting your device fixed by a third party.

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Mariella Moon
April 11th, 2018
In this article: FTC, gadgetry, gadgets, gear, warranty
Pornchai Jaito / EyeEm via Getty Images
Pornchai Jaito / EyeEm via Getty Images

Those stickers on gadgets that say you'll void your warranty if they're removed? You've probably come to expect them whenever you purchase a new device. The FTC has just made clear, however, that those warranty notices are illegal when it fired off warning letters to six companies that market and sell automobiles, mobile devices and video game consoles in the US. It didn't mention which automakers and tech corporations they are, but since the list includes companies that make video game consoles, Sony and Microsoft could be two of them.

Under the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which the commission cited in its letter, companies can't put repair restrictions on their products unless they provide the parts or services for free or receive a waiver from the FTC. Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement:

"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."

Since warranty stickers are a common sight on popular consumer electronics, like say, the PS4 and various phones, it was pretty unclear whether the law covers products much cheaper than cars. As Motherboard noted, though, the letters made it crystal that it also covers electronic devices, so long as they cost more than $15.

The FTC asked the six companies to review their warranty notices and make sure that they don't "state or imply that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specific parts of services." It will then review the companies' websites after 30 days, warning the letters' recipients that "failure to correct any potential violations may result in law enforcement action."

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