The FTC has ordered Weber-Stephen Products, LLC to fix its warranty terms, charging that Weber’s warranty included terms that restricted consumers’ right to repair their purchased grill products. The FTC alleged that the grill-maker included warranty terms explaining that the warranty is void if customers use or install third-party parts on their Weber grill products.
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Weber’s warranty violates the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, harming consumers by restricting their choices and forcing them to spend more money on replacement parts. The FTC also said that Weber’s actions prevented independent repairers and manufacturers from competing on a level playing field.
Magnusson Moss addresses restrictions on consumers’ right to repair by prohibiting companies from conditioning a warranty for a consumer product on the consumer’s using any article or service (other than one provided free of charge) which is identified by brand name. Its purpose is to improve the adequacy of warranties available to consumers to facilitate consumer choice, to prevent deception, and to improve business competition.
Weber has agreed to fix its warranty by removing the terms that require customers to use Weber parts in order to remain under warranty, and by further recognizing consumers’ right to repair. Weber also agreed to provide notice to their customers informing them that their warranties will remain in effect even if third-party parts are used on Weber grill products.
The settlement comes just a few weeks after the FTC took action against Harley-Davidson and MWE-Investments over a similar warranty issue. A few years before that, the FTC sent letters to six major companies warning them that their warranties may violate federal law.
These latest FTC actions make it clear that the FTC is making it a priority to protect consumers’ right to repair their products. As Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection said, "This is the FTC’s third right-to-repair lawsuit in as many weeks. Companies that use their warranties to illegally restrict consumers’ right to repair should fix them now.”
“Companies that use their warranties to illegally restrict consumers’ right to repair should fix them now” -- Samuel Levine, Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection