Anyone who has ever tried to modify or repair a game console, you know one particular scourge quite well. Those pesky little warranty stickers that console manufacturers use to justify voiding warranties for the users who open the consoles are a particularly ubiquitous annoyance for gamers. Well, it turns out that those practices can be potentially illegal.
The Federal Trade Commission just published a press release that named six hardware manufacturers for anti-consumer practices the federal government outlawed in the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
While the names of those manufacturers have been redacted from the presser, Ars Technica did a bit of googling and found a few of them:
- Hyundai’s warranty states that “the use of Hyundai Genuine Parts is required to keep your Hyundai manufacturer’s warranties and any extended warranties intact.”
- Nintendo’s warranty states that “this warranty shall not apply if this product is used with products not sold or licensed by Nintendo.”
- Sony’s warranty states that “this warranty does not apply if this product… has had the warranty seal on the PS4™ system altered, defaced, and removed.”
The only circumstance in which a violation occurs only when a manufacturer does not provide free replacement parts for DIY repairs of their products. The FTC also noted that this law covers products ranging from cell phones to gaming consoles, so there’s a lot of violative products on the table here.
The companies found in violation were given a 30-day period to correct their policies to be in compliance with the law. It’s worth noting that manufacturers who are granted special permission by the FTC, or those who provide free repair services and replacement parts are exempt from this particular regulation.
If it does result in legal action, I’d be willing to bet that some of the discovery process will hinge on arguing over that particular aspect in relation to the companies involved.
Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, also noted:
“Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services.”