FTC fires out warnings to ASRock, Gigabyte and Zotac over 'Warranty void if removed' stickers in violation of US law

A "do not remove" sticker on the back of a keyboard
(Image credit: Future)

As those of us who have spent our lives with screwdrivers in our hands will know, nothing causes an internal debate quite like finding a "warranty void if removed" sticker on an electronic device. Dare you continue your disassembly, or is it best left as it is, lest a warranty voiding prevents you from sending it back for a professional fix?

Now the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent warning letters to eight companies about their warranty practices, including ASRock, Gigabyte and Zotac, voicing concerns that stickers used by these manufacturers violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (via The Verge). This federal law governs consumer product warranty protections, and as far as the FTC is concerned, these threatening stickers are in violation.

Samuel Levine, Director for the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said: "These warning letters put companies on notice that restricting consumers’ right to repair violates the law"

"The Commission will continue our efforts to protect consumers’ right to repair and independent dealers’ right to compete."

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was brought into effect in 1975 and was created to prevent manufacturers from using disclaimers on warranties in an unfair or misleading manner.

The FTC deems this sort of wording—alongside the warning stickers attached to multiple companies' products—as hindering the consumer's ability to perform routine maintenance and repairs. The US government agency has urged each company in its letter to review promotional and warranty materials to ensure that they do not "state or imply that warranty coverage is conditioned on the use of specific parts or services."

ASRock, for example, in the first line of its warranty conditions, states that its warranty "will be null and void if products are modified, damaged, or otherwise tampered with, for example, the outer case is opened or additional optional parts/components are installed/removed."

Of course, this is a US law being enforced by a US agency, although many other countries do have similar restrictions in place. The EU has also recently adopted new rules to strengthen right-to-repair legislation, including forcing manufacturers to inform consumers about their rights, offer extended legal guarantees, and provide cost-effective repair services. 

Spare parts and tools will now be required to be provided at a reasonable price, and manufacturers operating in the EU can no longer block consumer repairs through hardware or software, allowing independent repair shops and home users to fit suitable replacements.

Given the rapidly growing amount of e-waste cluttering up our planet, the enforcement of right-to-repair and consumer warranty protection laws worldwide may help to diminish some of the "disposability factor" of modern electronic devices. Never mind the stickers themselves ending up in the ocean or landfill, along with so much other discarded plastic. 


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Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.

Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.