It is called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and the FTC has finally issued guidance saying that this is illegal and deceptive:
It’s common for manufacturers of cars, video game consoles, and other products to insist that consumers will void their warranty if they use unauthorized repair services or unauthorized third-party parts. Some even insist that you’ll void the warranty if you break the “warranty seal.”
These policies are illegal, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
On Tuesday, the agency announced it had sent warning letters to six companies for violating a 1975 law governing manufacturer warranties.
Who does the FTC have in mind? The agency doesn’t name the six companies that were targeted in this enforcement action, so we don’t know for sure. But the FTC does provide examples of warranty terms that violate the rules, and with a little Googling it’s easy to figure out likely suspects:
- 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.”
These exact phrases, with names of companies redacted, are provided as examples in the FTC’s release.
The FTC is demanding that the companies stop voiding warranties and remove statements from their websites and other materials threatening to do so within 30 days.
Of course, this raises the obvious question: Why did it take them 40 f%$#ing YEARS to do this?