For years you’ve seen those very official-looking stickers on your electronics that say “Warranty Void If Removed.” It turns out that those threatening labels are absolute hogwash. This news is according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that ruled that these stickers are complete bullshit. And the FTC went so far as to send letters to electronic companies to inform them that placing these stickers on their products is illegal.
If you’ve cracked open a hard drive, a game console, or a cell phone you’ll notice that there is a “Warranty Void If Removed” sticker. So most people will quickly close up the electronics as to not void the warranty. These labels are to deter customers or third-parties from meddling with the inner-workings of electronics. This compels consumers to send the product directly to the electronics company for repair. This sticker may also entice many consumers from having their old electronics fixed and result in them purchasing a brand new model to avoid the hassle. The electronic companies actually have no legal ground to enforce these ominous messages.
The FTC wrote letters to six electronics companies informing them that their warranty-voiding stickers are malarkey. “The letters warn that FTC staff has concerns about the companies’ statements that consumers must use specified parts or service providers to keep their warranties intact,” the FTC press release states. “Unless warrantors provide the parts or services for free or receive a waiver from the FTC, such statements generally are prohibited by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a law that governs consumer product warranties. Similarly, such statements may be deceptive under the FTC Act.”
The companies have 30 days to update their policies on their websites, and if they do not the FTC will consider “law enforcement action” against them. The press release did not specify which companies they sent the letters to but the FTC did say it sent letters to “six major companies that market and sell automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.” Both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 have stickers such as these so there’s a good chance that Microsoft and Sony received letters from the Federal Trade Commission.
“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,” Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. So bust out your handy tools because you’re now free to pry open and tinker with your electronics without the fear of voiding the warranty.