WASHINGTON Federal regulators have accused Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse of imposing illegal warranty terms on customers and ordered them to repair their warranties and ensure that their resellers compete fairly with independents.
Companies impose illegal warranty terms that void customer warranties if they use someone other than companies and their authorized dealers to purchase parts or repairs – their options are limited and they have spent a lot of money, the Federal Trade Commission said in an action against Milwaukee on Thursday. motorcycle manufacturer and MWE Investments, which manufactures Westinghouse outdoor power plants and related equipment.
Under the proposed agency authorization agreement, companies are prohibited from telling customers that their warranties will be lost if they use third party services or components, or that they will only use trademarks, parts, or authorized service providers.
Companies must also add specific wording to their warranties that recognizes the consumer’s right to repair: “You can obtain your product from an unauthorized repair shop or authorized repair shop. The use of third party parts may not void this warranty. ”
Companies must send and publish messages to customers stating that their warranties will remain valid even if they purchase parts on the market or have them serviced by independent repairers. They should instruct their authorized suppliers to remove the displayed fraudulent material, train employees, and not promote brand and supplier components to third parties.
Last year, the FTC adopted a policy statement in support of the “right to redress,” which promised greater enforcement efforts and paved the way for new regulation. Regulators argue that anti-competitive restrictions lead consumers to isolated repair networks or exchange products before the end of their life. The goal is to allow Americans to repair broken cell phones, computers, video game consoles, or even tractors themselves, or use independent repair shops.
“Consumers deserve a choice when it comes to repairing their products, and independent retailers deserve a chance to compete,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, said in a statement on Thursday. “These orders require Harley and Westinghouse to repair their warranties, clean up consumers and ensure fair competition with independent suppliers.
Unused parts, manuals, software and diagnostic tools, product design limitations, and software locks built into the device make it difficult to repair many consumer products. and sustainable, regulators and industry critics say. Self-repair often requires special tools, hard-to-reach parts, and manufacturer-controlled diagnostic software access.
“The rubber is on track with the FTC’s new focus on protecting your right to repair,” said Nathan Proctor, chief executive officer of the Right to Repair at FS Public Interest Research Group. Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse are not the only companies to use the threat of loss of warranty to prevent repairs. The FTC’s measures … send a clear signal that it is time to stop violating consumers’ rights and to preserve the right to redress.
Harley-Davidson spokesmen did not respond immediately to the request for comment; Westinghouse spokesmen were out of reach.
The proposed consent agreement will be open for public comment within 30 days, after which the FTC will decide whether to make it final.