US FTC To PC Manufacturers: Consumers Have The Right To Repair Purchased Product

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued letters to multiple PC manufacturers to inform them that those “warranty void if removed” stickers that they place over screws on their products can no longer be used. Putting it simply, those stickers are now illegal.

Letters were sent specifically to PC brands ASRock, Zotac, and Gigabyte, and warned that their practice of placing “warranty-voiding” stickers on particular screw points would find themselves under scrutiny by the federal commission and that they should change their warranties and review their customer support practices.

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The latter point is something of an indirect but nevertheless pointed warning towards ASUS, whom while not explicitly part of the findings, did find itself under the crosshairs for the FTC recently when investigative Techtube channel Gamers Nexus (GN) called out the brand for its RMA process.

“These warning letters put companies on notice that restricting consumers’ right to repair violates the law,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The Commission will continue our efforts to protect consumers’ right to repair and independent dealers’ right to compete.”

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Consumers rights advocates have said that these “illegal” warranties are just the tip of the iceberg, and that manufacturers have been trying all sorts of tactics to control the repair process, to say nothing of discouraging consumers who purchased their products from tinkering or fixing the product itself. In the US, a survey found that people waste an approximate US$40 billion (~RM188.40 billion) just from being unable to repair products.

“It’s getting harder for people to buy things that are repairable. The problem is getting worse, much worse,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association, a small lobbying group that advocates for independent repair shops.

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“Ten years ago you could slide off the back of the phone, and pop out the battery,” Olivia Webb, spokesperson for iFixit, said. “Now, they are adhered with screws, battery pull tabs, some of them are glued in. People don’t want you to replace your battery – they want you to buy a new phone.”

(Source: FTC, CBS, The Verge, Techspot)

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