[LIES!] The Truth About Warranties

Category: Gadgets

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.

Warranty Void - NOT!

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...

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Most recent comments on "[LIES!] The Truth About Warranties"

Posted by:

Jay R
13 Jul 2016

I have always wanted to fix my own stuff. In response to this, not only have manufacturers done exactly what Bob has said on the legal front, but they have made it more and more difficult to get things apart, to be able to investigate components, and then, to obtain repair parts. It really is all about the money.

Posted by:

13 Jul 2016

Good to know. Fingers crossed

Posted by:

John C
13 Jul 2016

I know that Mass. law very well. Being a resident, I signed multiple petitions against it and even contacted my local state rep to no avail. The item even came up for a referendum vote during a local election and I voted against it along with many people, Sadly it appears the big auto dealers have a lot of clout (payola) at the state level to get that passed.

On the warranty and repair side. I used to ship RMA parts for a company I worked for among other the other non-IT jobs I did there. The prices for the replacement parts versus were about 500-900% above the inventory cost for those customers that opted not to purchase a service contract which ran at the minimum $7500 annually per machine.

Posted by:

13 Jul 2016

Bob, on point!!!

Even worse than what the OEMs do - Is the Extended Warranties. Many times they cost lots of money but you are still hindered with getting RMA, many times having to pay to return your item to them and they also take a long time to fix or replace.

I have recommended getting LED/LCD Monitors that have a 3-year warranty. I know that you get better service from these companies, since, you have purchased a "business" model. Now, ASUS offers Rapid Replacement. Sending out another model like yours, unless they are out of stock, in the warehouse. They usually send along a UPS or FedEx shipping label, so you can send your defunct monitor.

Business' need their monitors, so they can do what needs to be done. I had a 22' KDS Monitor that went defunct, with 6 months left on the warranty. I called the number for warranties and was told that KDS went out of business the past January.

I couldn't believe it. I started to moan and groan - Then the woman said, they were honoring the 3-year warranty. She would try to get me a 22' KDS Monitor but it was very doubtful to find one. However, they would send out a new or refurbished 22' monitor to replace my defunct one. There would also be a return shipping label, to them at no cost to me!

I got a Magnavox 22' Monitor as my replacement. It worked fine for about a year and a half. Then it also went defunct. This time, I looked around for a good bargain and found my ASUS 23.6" Monitor with a 3-year warranty. I am using it right now. Oh, I also got one for my Hubby. Both monitors are working fine. I got them in April 2013 and they both were manufactured in Nov. 2012.

ASUS has a Rapid Response with this model. Again, I found and purchased a business model. Both monitors are bright and the color is great. They have a VGA connection and 2 HDMIs. NO DVI but with an HDMI-DVI cable, you are good to go. I personally don't like DVI because of the lack of resolutions.

Posted by:

13 Jul 2016

I'm pretty sure The car dealers Warrantee (Australa ) is not binding (by law)as to who (registered mechanic etc) repairs your car-as long as genuine parts are used.

Posted by:

Howard Lewis
13 Jul 2016

You need to be careful of who's selling you what, which includes reading all the documents.

My wife and I bought a new Subaru. The salesman had given us a decent price and seemed deserving of the recommendations he got from our friends.

"I have a good deal for you," he said. "It's a five-year extension to Subaru's warranty. It'll cost you a thousand dollars but at the end of five years if you haven't used the extension you get your thousand dollars back."

I said yes. Five years later I indeed had not the extension. When I called the salesman to get my thousand dollars back, he said, "Unfortunately the insurer has gone out of business."

I had not known that the extension was being carried by a third party. I filed a small-claims court suit against the Subaru dealer.

Then I read the insurance document I'd signed. It explicitly said the dealer was in no way responsible for any default by the insurance company. Online I found forums in which suckers like me were complaining about being ripped off by the insurer. Evidently the insurer sold a lot of policies through auto dealers. Before the policies came due the company would go out of business. The auto dealers were exempt from suit. They evidently were content to collect their commissions and leave the customer holding the bag.

I had to acknowledge that I'd been had. Reluctantly I withdrew the small-claims suit.

Posted by:

13 Jul 2016

Aside from scaring you into not tampering with your device Apple goes as to far as to use special proprietary screws to make it as difficult as possible for the average Joe to even open up their device.


Posted by:

John Silberman
13 Jul 2016

Recently I had a friend drop her business I-Phone and cracked the screen. The local I-Phone store was back logged and could not make the repair for a few days. Needing the phone repaired immediately, she found a third party who successfully repaired the phone. Well, during the next I-Phone update, Apple intentionally bricked the phone for installing un-authorized hardware. When returning to the I-Phone store, they refused to fix the bricked phone forcing her to buy a new phone of the same identical model. They did apply $250 credit for the bricked phone. I do believe she was eventually fully credited all expenses back after joining the class action suit against Apple for intentionally bricking phones for having third party hardware.

Posted by:

Gerald Freed
13 Jul 2016

The "right to fix it yourself" may be de jure but the facts on the ground are the hassles that one may go through may negate the issue (unless you are a hard ass, yourself).

Posted by:

Richard C.
14 Jul 2016

These up-and-coming you can fix it laws are great thoughts, but there's a few things being being neglected.
1. Alldata-you can buy online equivalents of the shop service manuals...but only of what the manufacturer wants to provide (the programming of Dodge keys (without a functional one) is not included.
2. Just try to get service manuals for Toshiba electronic devices. Toshiba won't even sell them to you. If a tech posts one, Toshiba takes action to get it pulled.
3. Asus-try to buy replacement parts that aren't classified by them as accessories (like screen bezels). Again, forget it.

These 'gentleman's agreements' w/manufacturers may be real, but will basically be toothless.

Posted by:

Pat C.
14 Jul 2016

"If I can't fix it myself I ain't paying to get it fixed." Words from my grandpa who, as far as I know, could fix most anything with a hammer and an attitude.

Posted by:

14 Jul 2016

Even it is really good for us, the users (customers), this will be nightmare for the suppliers, because while we are repearing the screen we may damage the antenna, then smartphone will not work. The suppliers will react to this uncertainty and increase the price?

Posted by:

14 Jul 2016

This is the reason why I build my own computers.

Posted by:

14 Jul 2016

Several years ago I bought a new Dell laptop from an on-line auction for $150. Something minor went wrong so I contacted Dell to buy the part I needed. I was told they wouldn't sell me the part and I have to send it to them, at my expense, with a payment of $110 plus return shipping. Not only did I refuse to be held at their style of gun point, I have never bought anything from Dell since.

Posted by:

14 Jul 2016

This seems to be just one more example of the average person fighting back against big business.
People, including myself are tired of it and this movement has my support.

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