FTC: "Warranty Void If Removed" stickers are illegal

The FTC brought out the rule hammer this week in a letter to 6 companies about their stickers. 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. Yeah, those are illegal. This isn't a new ruling by the FTC, it's a warning from the FTC to companies under their jurisdiction that these stickers are not enforceable.

The illegal act here is companies appearing to "tie warranty coverage to consumers' use of authorized parts or service." That's not legal. That practice violates both the Mac-Moss Warranty Act and the FTC Act. There are two exceptions, but they are very narrow.

1. If the company provides the article or service to consumers for free.

2. If the company gets a waiver from the FTC.

As long as you, the consumer, pay someone for a repair or service to your device, your device is still under any warranty you've had guaranteed before said service or fix. "Companies can't void a consumer's warranty or deny warranty coverage solely because the consumer uses a part made by someone else or gets someone not authorized by the company to perform service on the product," said FTC official Lesley Fair.

"Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services," said Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. TO BE CLEAR: It's not just the stickers that are illegal – it's any suggestion from any company saying consumers cannot keep warrantys for products they've gotten fixed or worked on with non-original-brand parts or services.

At this time we do not know the six companies that've been sent the letter of warning from the FTC. According to the FTC, the letters were sent to "six major companies that market and sell automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States."

Companies that have any question about their illegal practices regarding warrantys can go have a peek at FTC dot ORG where the FTC's Consumer Response Center released a statement.