FTC Warns ASRock, Gigabyte, Zotac Over “Void Warranty If Removed” Stickers That Violate US Law


As those of us who have spent our lives with screwdrivers know, nothing sparks internal debate like finding a “warranty voided if removed” sticker on an electronic device. Do you dare continue disassembling it, or is it better to leave it as is so that the voided warranty doesn’t prevent you from sending it in for professional repair?

Now the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent warning letters to eight companies over their warranty practices, including ASRock, Gigabyte, and Zotac, expressing concerns that the stickers used by these manufacturers violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (via Edge). This federal law governs warranty coverage for consumer products, and as far as the FTC is concerned, those menacing stickers are a violation.

Samuel Levine, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said: “These warning letters put companies on notice that limiting consumers’ right to repair violates the law.”

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“The Commission will continue our efforts to protect consumers’ right to repair and independent dealers’ right to compete.”

This Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act came into force in 1975 and was intended to prevent manufacturers from using exclusions of liability in warranties in a way that was unfair or misleading.

The FTC believes that this type of language — along with warning labels on many companies’ products — makes it harder for consumers to perform routine maintenance and repairs. The U.S. government agency urged each company in its letter to review its promotional and warranty materials to make sure they do not “state or imply that the warranty is contingent on the use of specific parts or services.”

For example, ASRock states in the first line of its warranty terms that the warranty “will be void if the products are modified, damaged or otherwise tampered with, for example, the external casing is opened or additional optional parts/components are installed/removed.”

Of course, this is a US law enforced by a US agency, although many other countries have such laws similar restrictions in place. The EU also recently adopted recent rules to strengthen the right to repair legislation, including forcing manufacturers to inform consumers about their rights, offer extended legal guarantees and provide cost-effective repair services.

Spare parts and tools will now have to be available at a reasonable price, and manufacturers operating in the EU will no longer be able to block consumer repairs through hardware or software, allowing independent repair shops and home users to fit the right spare parts.

Taking into account rapidly growing amount of electronic waste littering our planet, enforcing repair rights and consumer warranty protections worldwide can facilitate reduce some of the “disposability factor” of newfangled electronics. Not to mention the stickers themselves ending up in the ocean or landfill, along with so much other discarded plastic.

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