Various companies have been using "void if removed" stickers for their products' warranty, but the Federal Trade Commission says it's illegal.
The stickers in question basically force customers to use only specific parts or service providers to repair devices and keep the warranty. Third-party replacement parts that are not among those specified could void the warranty.
The FTC has now issued a warning to six major companies, stating that it's illegal to use such "void if removed" stickers to condition the warranty. The FTC doesn't specify which six major companies are involved, but they apparently sell mobile devices, cars, or video game systems.
'Void If Removed' Stickers Are Illegal
According to the FTC, manufacturers who claim that the warranty is void if consumers buy third-party parts violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which lays down the rules for warranties when it comes to consumer products.
A company can make an application for a more restrictive warranty but to get it, they would have to either receive a waiver from the FTC or ensure the specified services or parts are available to consumers for free. Otherwise, they may not restrict or condition the warranty. The FTC further warns that such practices might qualify as deceptive under the FTC Act.
The Problem With 'Warranty Void If Removed' Stickers
As the FTC itself highlights, conditioning a consumer product's warranty coverage based on consumers' use of specific parts of services is not only unfair but also harmful.
For one, it hurts consumers who might have to pay more for the specified parts in order to keep their warranty intact. Secondly, this practice also hurts smaller businesses that may offer rival services and products, but the warranty specifications stifle that competition.
Comply, Or Else
The FTC has requested all of those six major companies to review their warranty and promotional materials and ensure that they don't state, require, or imply that a product's warranty depends on the use of specific services or parts. Each company must also ensure that its practices comply with the law, and they have 30 days to make any necessary revisions.
Once the 30-day period comes to an end, the FTC will check the websites of the targeted companies and if they still engage in such unlawful practices, it will take legal action against them.
While the FTC has not named the six companies in question, it's a known fact that Apple has received heavy criticism for restricting third-party screen replacements. Apple may be one of the six firms that received warnings, although it remains unconfirmed at this point.