[LIES!] The Truth About Warranties
If you try to fix, upgrade (or even dare to look inside) your smartphone, laptop, desktop or other gadgets, does that act void the warranty? Read on to learn the liberating truth about “warranty void if sticker removed” and other dire warnings you may see on the things you own...
The Big Lie Most Hardware Makers Tell You
The screw holes and case seams of many laptops, game consoles, and other devices are often covered by little stickers bearing the even littler warning: “Warranty void if removed.”
Additionally, large vendors like Sony, Microsoft, and Apple either explicitly state or strongly imply in their warranty agreements that your paltry year’s worth of protection against manufacturer’s defects is null and void if you try to fix the device yourself, or even if you have a third-party repair service do it.
Yes, that’s right; you can’t replace your smartphone’s broken screen (a relatively trivial task with the help of many YouTube tutorials). You can’t take it to a local repair shop and get it back the same afternoon. You have to call for a RMA (Returned Merchandise Authorization), ship the device to who-knows-where at your expense (and, sometimes, enclose a check for return postage), then wait weeks to get it back. Otherwise, your manufacturer’s warranty is void.
This situation is ideal for OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). Repair work is very lucrative, especially when you have a monopoly on it. The only problem is, this whole “warranty void if sticker removed” business is entirely illegal.
So says The Repair Association, formerly known as The Digital Right to Repair Coalition. Whether you are a DIY hobbyist, a repair service business owner, or a recycler of obsolete electronics, The Repair Association claims to represent your interests in Washington and State legislatures; your main interest being the right to open up and fix what you own. And that includes more than just computers -- your right to repair extends to game consoles, cameras, household appliances, automobiles, medical devices, lab equipment, farm tractors and more.
Your Right to Repair and The Law
The claim that warranty terms which prohibit independent repairs are illegal rests upon a section of the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that forbids “tying” consumers to specific repair services or specific types of parts. The MMWA is what allows you to take your car to an independent repair shop instead of the ludicrously expensive dealership that sold you the car. Likewise, you have the right to take your PC to a local repair shop, or to fix it yourself.
But big OEMs tell big lies, and tell them so often and skillfully that “99.9 percent of consumers have no idea of their actual rights,” according to Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association.
“Apple and others have crafty attorneys that know darned well that Magnuson-Moss exists as do anti-trust laws against ‘tying agreements.’ The contracts are very clever and appear to be within the law—but are anything but in practice,” he told the Motherboard tech news site in a recent interview.
For hundreds of years, consumers have been free to do whatever they wished with whatever they purchased. But in recent decades, manufacturers have imposed upon that right with contractual agreements that limit who can repair their products, which they presume remain “their products” forever. The Repair Association and other activist groups fight back against this arrogant threat, and they have won in a very big consumer product category.
In 2012, the Aftermarket Automobile Industry Association successfully passed the Automotive Right to Repair Act in Massachusetts. Very quickly, other States began drafting similar laws. Faced with the prospect of 50 different laws to comply with, the Auto Alliance negotiated an informal, nationwide agreement with their aftermarket counterparts.
The “Automotive Right To Repair” will come into effect nationwide in 2018. The Repair Association is fighting for a similar treaty with electronics makers and their “authorized service centers.” It’s a battle well worth fighting, and supporting.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 13 Jul 2016
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