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October 12, 2015

Kiss Your Written Warranty Goodbye

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:55 am

warrantyFor decades, federal law has required manufacturers that guarantee their products to include a written warranty on or in the box containing the product. Retailers have also had to make available a physical copy of all warranties for review by prospective purchasers right in the store.

That is all about to change because of a revision of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 that was just signed into the law on September 24. The amendment, called the E-Warranty Act of 2015 directs the Federal Trade Commission to revise its rules within one year to allow e-distribution of product warranties.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Manufacturers will now be allowed to merely include a link on or in their product packaging directing the purchaser to the warranty on its website. To accommodate those without Internet access, manufacturers must provide a telephone number or physical mailing address to contact the manufacturer to obtain a copy.

Similarly, retailers will no longer have to have physical copies of all warranties in a binder for customers to review before purchase, but can alternatively provide access to them electronically in the store.

Is this good for consumers? MrConsumer says absolutely not! Why should I as a purchaser have to jump through hoops just to get a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty for the product I just purchased? It should be there right in the box. Period. If they don’t provide you with a copy of the warranty in the box, aren’t you less likely to know you even have one and less likely to use it? And who do you think that is going to benefit?

This past June, Consumer World conducted a spot-check of 20 online stores which revealed that they failed to post the warranty electronically on their websites for four-out-of-five items checked. Under current FTC rules, online sellers either had to post the actual warranty on their website or tell customers how to obtain it. So while the idea of making warranties available electronically may be forward thinking, if stores or manufacturers don’t actually do it, thanks for nothing.

If there is any bright side to this new law, it is that the FTC can now fix an oversight in the recent review of its warranties rules, and require online sellers to post the actual product warranty for everything they sell (rather than be able to direct shoppers to the manufacturer).

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4 Comments

  1. I do not want to jump through hoops to look at my warranty. BAD MOVE!

    Comment by Richard — October 12, 2015 @ 11:06 am
  2. Another potential down side to this: what recourse will the consumer if the manufacturer changes the warranty after you’ve purchased? You may like what you read before buying, but if they decide to change the warranty, you would have no proof of that.

    Comment by George Clark — October 12, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
  3. George is right… the big problem is now the terms of the warranty will change.

    Day 1. 10 year warranty. Purchase product
    Day 366. 1 year warranty. It breaks, you lose.

    I guess you can print/save a copy of warranty for every purchase yourself.

    Comment by Robert — October 12, 2015 @ 2:25 pm
  4. I can understand this being a problem if manufacturers change a warranty online, but I think the law should also demand that manufacturers archive product information and updates online. Sometimes I need to use a 3rd party source to find product info, and that is unacceptable in the digital age.

    Perhaps an abridged warranty should be provided with the physical product. Most people don’t read most of the warranty.

    Comment by Wayne R — October 12, 2015 @ 8:45 pm

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