The FTC has privately warned six companies that customers using third party components or servicing can’t automatically void warranties. The companies haven’t been named but are “six major companies that market and sell automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.”
The move isn’t introducing any new rules but rather warning the companies they might be breaching existing law. Announcing the warnings, the FTC said real examples of terms and conditions that might be unlawful include:
- 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.
In normal circumstances, manufacturer can’t have a general rule that third-party parts or servicing automatically voids warranties. The only exceptions are if the FTC issues a specific exemption, or if the manufacturer offers all the relevant parts and serving free of charge.
The rules do mean companies can say warranties don’t cover damage that’s specifically caused by third-party servicing or parts. It’s only blanket voiding that’s against the rules.
The six companies must now review both their warranties and promotional material to make sure they comply with the rules. The FTC will then look again after 30 days and take law enforcement action if necessary.