FTC: You Can't Void a Warranty by Breaking a Seal

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Any person who performs work on their own electronics knows all about "warranty void if removed" stickers.

The idea is that a company doesn't want to be on the hook when a user replaces an old, perfectly good stick of RAM with a new, crappy one and then comes crying to them when the computer won't boot. Those stickers you've got on the insides of your smartphone and the outside of your gaming console - the ones you're not supposed to remove.

These exact phrases, with names of companies redacted, are provided as examples in the FTC's release. They're normally either slapped over a screw silo or wrapped around where two pieces of metal/plastic join together to discourage you (or a third party) from opening up the device to tinker with it yourself. But the FTC is now saying that "warranty void if removed" stickers are illegal and have contacted several companies to inform them of the fact.

Hyundai USA now insists "the use of Hyundai Genuine Parts is required to keep your Hyundai manufacturer's warranties and any extended warranties intact", while Nintendo sees no problem voiding otherwise valid warranties if some of its gaming devices are "used with products not sold or licensed by Nintendo".

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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". In a statement made on Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission pointed out that a product's warranty can not be tied to the use of a particular brand's replacement parts and fix services.

"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 release says.

This warranty shall not apply if this product.is used with products not sold or licensed by Nintendo.

The illegal act here is companies appearing to "tie warranty coverage to consumers' use of authorized parts or service". If they don't comply, "potential violations may result in law enforcement action". Some even insist that you'll void the warranty if you break the "warranty seal".