Every newly purchased game console or other electronics gear come with a “Warranty Void if Removed” sticker. There is a peel-away tape to confirm if the device has been opened or not. If it has been opened, the companies often deny the warranty claims. Most people are unaware that this is illegal. The 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act made it illegal for the companies to force users to only repair the hardware using the specific components or via authorized resellers. The companies are not required to offer warranties, but if they are offering a warranty, they cannot void it because the customer has the device repaired elsewhere.
Companies are allowed to ask the customer to ship the device to them or return it to the store from where they purchased it. However, they cannot void the warranty just because the user repaired an unrelated problem themselves. The Mag-Moss said, “No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer’s using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name.”
The government agency announced that it has sent warnings to six specific companies and notified them that their use of “Warranty Void if Removed” stickers are a direct violation of the federal law. They even wrote a song about it;
When the screen goes blue
And the car breaks down
And the smartphone keeps rebooting eternally
Consumers won’t be afraid
No, they won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand by your warranty
The FTC hasn’t mentioned the names of the companies it contacted but has said that the company sells “automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.” The FTC has also given three examples of offending warranty language which can make us guess some of the targets directly:
“The use of [company name] parts is required to keep your… manufacturer’s warranties and any extended warranties intact.” – Hyundai
“This warranty shall not apply if this product… is used with products not sold or licensed by.” – Nintendo
“This warranty does not apply if this product… has had the warranty seal on the [product] altered, defaced, or removed.” – Sony
The FTC said, “FTC staff has requested that each company review its promotional and warranty materials to ensure that such materials do not state or imply that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specific parts of services. In addition, FTC staff requests that each company revise its practices to comply with the law. The letters state that FTC staff will review the companies’ websites after 30 days and that failure to correct any potential violations may result in law enforcement action.” So the users don’t need to put up with any mistreatment from Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft. The warranty is not void only because you opened a box. None of the companies are allowed to treat their customers this way, even Apple.
So next time you break this sticker by mistake, do not worry! Your warranty isn’t going anywhere.