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The FTC weighs in on repair restrictions

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When you buy a new smartphone, computer, home appliance, or other product, you may not always think about whether it can be fixed if it breaks or has an issue. But here’s the thing: some manufacturers prevent you from fixing the things you buy. They might do things like gluing in batteries, limiting the availability of spare parts, and not giving you the repair instructions and software to help figure out the problem.  

The FTC released a report today about repair restrictions and how they limit your ability to fix products that break. The report suggests what the FTC, lawmakers, and manufacturers can do to make it easier for you to fix the things that you own.

But there are some things that you can do yourself. Before you buy, do some research online to find out:

  • What is the average lifespan of the product?
  • What is likely to go wrong with it if it breaks?
  • How hard will it be to fix the problem?

Here’s something else to know, in case you find yourself in this situation. Let’s say you took a product to an independent repair shop to fix or maintain it. Then later you go to the product’s manufacturer for a repair — but one not related to the earlier fix. If that repair is covered by your warranty, and if your warranty hasn’t expired, the manufacturer can’t refuse to make the repair.

If you’re told that your warranty was voided or that it will be voided because of independent repair, we want to hear about it. Report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.  

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Sad but true. But that's the case with many products. I removed the burglar alarm from my SAAB (2003) because a dying battery was causing it to shriek loudly at weird times. But I couldn't replace the battery because the cover was glued. Why was that? GM trying to make a bundle selling a new burglar alarm? Who knows...

This is some great information! Even vehicles are made today with planned obsolescence. They are not made to last like the good ole American cars from way back when. They are designed to last a while, but if they were to last a long time, there wouldn't be buyers. The owners would keep their good ole cars. The same with the items mentioned in this post above. Again, thank you!

Thanks, I didn’t know that.

Many of these examples that are mentioned in this article, manufacturers should not be allowed to do in the first place. Especially, the whole "gluing in" of the batteries. Not to mention the ridiculous reason or"lie" they give us for doing so.
No manufacturer should get away with being allowed to do any of these things and get away with them !

I hope the FTC will be more proactive in regards to these issues and put a.stop to this "crooked-greedy" behaviors of these manufacturers!

Thanks for the Info, good to know

Ok, this whole issue hits me to my core. Why? Because I'm over 70, I come from that wonderful "Eco-Green Era" of the 50's, 60's and even 70's when one could (1) repair the car/appliance/etc or (2) take it to a repair place to be repaired. Today we no longer live in an (Eco-Green World" contrary to what our governing world wants us to believe. Does it make me feel good when I got to buy a new refrigerator that I'm told I'll be lucky if it lasts 7 to 10 years? And I'm spending how much for this new "lemon". Someone needs to create a firestorm of change, a change to make the things we buy repairable, not "Throwable" or "Throw Aways". That is just plain stupid.

Several years ago I bought a better than average quality floor fan. After three years, in early spring the fan would not start. I carefully disassembled the fragile plastic part only to find that further disassembly required cutting the
exposed magnet wire in order to check and clean or replace the motor bearings. These wires are insulated with a transparent material similar to polyurethane varnish. At that point I realized that the fan could not be repaired. How many fans are sent to the dump each year because the bearings can't be serviced?

Refrigerators!!

Good information. The FTC should draft regulations to make this law.

So, does this mean it *is* unlawful?

> If you’re told that your warranty was voided or that it will be voided because of independent repair, we want to hear about it. <

Emily, a gazillion thanks to you and the team!! FTC.GOV is really giving us our money's worth this time around!

I bought a cell phone from Verizon and later found out the battery was glued in and they couldn't/wouldn't fix it. That was my first introduction to products that you couldn't replace the battery. This is great information. Unfortunately I learned the hard way. Thank you for taking this position on "non-fixable" items!

I experienced the glued in battery, ridiculous!! Thank you for the information and I can only hope and pray that this is made into LAW for "all products"!!!!! Thank you again!!!!

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