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NPR wrote in 2018

The Federal Trade Commission says they're [Warranty voided if removed labels] illegal.

  • Are "Warranty voided if removed"-labels illegal?
  • What, if any, is the practical effect of removing the label?
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  • 10
    Like with many Law questions, this is a matter of (legal) opinion until it is tried in a court. You already have one appropriate expert (the FTC) giving their opinion. What are you hoping for in an answer? If you want opinions from the peanut gallery, Law.SE might be a better site.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 6:31
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    @Oddthinking Documented instances where a) insertion of sticker is cited as cause in court case or consumer grievance organ. (What ever those may be) b) Removal of sticker has been cited as reason for not honoring warranty. (And documentation further action)
    – pinegulf
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 7:43
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    I’m voting to close this question because it already has an authoritative answer embedded in the link it refers to: ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2018/04/… Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 15:03
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    The sticker is sometimes placed such that you cannot open the case without breaking the sticker. So it means you have opened the case, and they are in effect saying that opening the case will void the warranty, for obvious reasons. Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 17:50
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    @WeatherVane But removing the sticker still does not invalidate the warranty, even if the company would like that. If the product is broken, it does not matter if the user scratched the surface, added their own sticker, or removed a sticker placed on the product (such as a Windows 10 sticker).
    – pipe
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 19:59

1 Answer 1

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Yes

They are illegal under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. ifixit has a great writeup, with all the sources, including the FTC: https://www.ifixit.com/News/11748/warranty-stickers-are-illegal

Unfortunately, in practice, currently No

Unlike Lemon Laws for cars, the act does not have cost-shifting provisions. If GM doesn't take back their 20K lemon and you sue them and win, all your costs will be paid. Because of that, lawyers will take the cases for free and manufacturers settle quickly(because dragging out a case they know they will lose, just increases their costs when they do). If Apple doesn't honor their warranty on a 2K laptop and you sue, you will win, but Apple will drag it out for years, you will pay 100s of thousands of dollars and all you'll get is the cost of the warranty.

A law is only as good as it's enforcement.

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  • I'm not sure the penultimate para is entirely accurate. It is certainly possible to win the cost of litigation too in certain jurisdictions. Albeit it being on a case-by-case basis makes the plaintiffs less likely to sue. (Not Trump, though, ha ha.) Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 12:45
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    BTW according to Wikipedia's article on this law "one of the key aids to the effectiveness of the act is that a prevailing plaintiff may recover reasonable costs of suit, including attorney fees." YMMV. The main issue that I see reading the actual law is that the fee recovery in question only applies if the base loss (sans litigation) exceeds $50,000. Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 12:52
  • Actually, unless something has changed since 1986 "Conventional application of U.C.C. remedies will not, however, permit the warranty plaintiff to be made whole, because he ordinarily will not be entitled to reimbursement for expenses incurred in retaining counsel and bringing his claim. troublemakers. Therefore, although authority exists to the contrary, the American rule precludes the recovery of attorney's fees as incidental or consequential damages under the U.C.C." Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 13:12
  • "This result derives from the American rule prohibiting an award of attorney's fees to the successful ligitant without a statutory or contractual provision expressly authorizing such an award. The U.C.C. does not explicitly authorize attorney's fees, and the usual seller-oriented purchase contract is unlikely to be so generous as to grant attorney's fees to successful." repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/… Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 13:13
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    Your source (basically a blog by a "content creator") is worse than OP's source (NPR). Both fail to mention that Magnuson-Moss exempts companies that provide repairs under warranty for free, meaning the stickers are likely legal on many products. The FTC press release does mention that. The reason this question went unanswered is that the legal situation is unclear. Your answer is what people want to hear, but it isn't the truth.
    – benrg
    Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 17:56

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