Last month, the FTC said in a statement that warranty-void-if-removed stickers, which are endemic on all sorts of electronic devices, are basically worthless and also kinda illegal. That’s good news for customers, but for as long as companies keep putting stickers on their devices, consumers are going to be scared to undertake any kind of repair.
The FTC knows that, which is probably why the agency has sent letters to six companies telling them that they need to put their warranty policy in order within 30 days, or they’ll face legal enforcement action.
The letters were obtained by Motherboard using the Freedom of Information Act, and were sent to Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Hyundai, HTC, and ASUS. The letters don’t leave much to the imagination:
Claims by a warrantor that create a false impression that a warranty would be void due to the use of unauthorized parts or service may, apart from the Warranty Act, constitute a deceptive practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act…
This letter places you on notice that violations of the Warranty and FTC Acts may result in legal action.FTC investigators have copied and preserved the online pages inquestion, and we plan to review your company’s written warranty and promotional materials after 30 days. You should review the Warranty and FTC Acts and if necessary, revise your practices to comply with the Acts’ requirements. By sending this letter, we do not waive the FTC’s right to take law enforcement action and seek appropriate injunctive and monetary remedies against [company name] based on past or future violations.
Some of the letters specifically call out language relating to a warranty sticker as being “particularly concerning.”
The right-to-repair movement, which these warranty stickers are anathema to, is picking up political steam at the state level more and more. Advocates want legislation guaranteeing a consumer’s right to repair their own products; enforcing the existing laws to make warranties easier is a good start.