FTC says war­ranty warn­ing stick­ers il­le­gal

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Hay­ley Tsukayama

If wor­ries about void­ing your war­ranty have ever kept you from try­ing to re­pair your own elec­tron­ics, or from vis­it­ing the cheap re­pair shop on the cor­ner, the gov­ern­ment has some good news for you.

The Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion an­nounced that warn­ing stick­ers that say peo­ple will void their war­ranties are not only mean­ing­less, but also il­le­gal. These types of stick­ers are com­mon on many elec­tron­ics — for ex­am­ple, if you try to open an Xbox One X, you’ll find a black sticker over one of the screws; Mi­crosoft has cited the sticker’s ab­sence as a rea­son to re­ject peo­ple’s war­ranty claims in the past. Sony’s PlaySta­tion has a sticker that says, “War­ranty void if seal dam­aged.”

The agency said it sent let­ters about the la­bels to six “ma­jor” com­pa­nies that make game con­soles, au­to­mo­biles and cel­lu­lar de­vices. The FTC did not name the com­pa­nies that re­ceived the let­ters. The agency said that these types of mes­sages are in vi­o­la­tion of the Mag­nu­son-Moss War­ranty Act, which pro­hibits com­pa­nies from putting re­pair lim­its on war­ranties, and they may also vi­o­late rules against false rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Con­sumer groups have crit­i­cized com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Ap­ple, Sony and Mi­crosoft for us­ing these warn­ings — or for telling con­sumers that third-party re­pairs will vi­o­late a war­ranty. Sony and Mi­crosoft did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and its co-founder, said the an­nounce­ment reaf­firms con­sumer rights. “Of course cor­rectly re­pair­ing prod­ucts your­self doesn’t void the war­ranty. If you break your phone’s screen, you should have op­tions out­side of Ap­ple for re­pair­ing it,” he said. “I’m glad that the FTC is crack­ing down on these abu­sive prac­tices. We should be able to main­tain our own hard­ware.”

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