FTC Claims 'Warranty Void If Removed' Stickers Are Illegal

FTC warns console and smartphone makers against limiting consumer warranties

Warranty-void-if-removed stickers are one of the biggest barriers to fixing things yourself. Yes, you expected them whenever you purchased a new device, but there's some new information regarding them. The six companies technically remain unnamed, although the examples of "questionable provisions" included in their warranty policies quoted in the FTC's latest press release indirectly reveal the identities of three of them.

The FTC warning states that language like "this warranty shall not apply if this product.is used with products not sold" and requiring warranty stickers to maintain a warranty are all illegal.

The US Federal Trade Commission staff has sent warning letters to six "major companies" that sell cars, mobile phones and video gaming systems, warning them to improve their warranty terms for customers.

The FTC also said that companies can not void warranties if consumers choose to fix their products with third-party parts - a policy that hurts "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. "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.

The only conditions a firm can apply to restrict warranties in this way are if they receive a waiver from the FTC or provide the specified parts or services for free. Motherboard notes that the letters have made it very clear that it also covers electronic devices, just as long as they cost more than $15.

The FTC has requested the companies review their warranty literature and warned that failure to update warranty information available online within 30 days could result in legal action.

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