If you've ever been hesitant to bring your broken phone to a neighborhood repair shop or been afraid to crack it open yourself with your handy repair kit all because of a little sticker that threatens you with a voided warranty, don't let it stop you again. The that use them that they are illegal and therefore pointless. Ignore away!
The FTC sent warning letters to six major companies that remain nameless in the agency's press release, but which are in the business of producing and selling "automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems." The stickers these companies use, and which you have almost doubtlessly seen, run afoul of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which asserts that these sort of limiting statements are generally illegal unless companies receive a waiver from the FTC or provide replacement parts for free.
The FTC provides a few examples of offending text for context:
- The use of [company name] parts is required to keep your . . . manufacturer’s warranties and any extended warranties intact.
- This warranty shall not apply if this product . . . is used with products not sold or licensed by [company name].
- This warranty does not apply if this product . . . has had the warranty seal on the [product] altered, defaced, or removed.
This comes as a big win for consumers in the face of legal battles where companies from Apple to John Deere are fighting to secure ever more control over what, exactly, you are allowed to do with the gadgets you ostensibly own. So the next time you think you might be able to make a fix by futzing with a screw or wire just a little bit, have at it. That sticker is all bark and no bite.