The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is federal law that governs warranties on products, and it aims to promote fair competition and protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices and defective or unsafe products.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies to any consumer product that costs more than $15 and comes with a written warranty. This includes cars, appliances, electronics, and other products or items.
Under the law, a warranty is not required for a product, but if a warranty is offered, then manufacturers and sellers must provide clear product warranties. The warranty must be in writing and easy to understand, including the following terms and conditions, without limitation:
- What is covered under the warranty;
- How long the warranty lasts; and
- Any limitations or exclusions that apply.
The warranty must be made available to consumers before they purchase the products. The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act does not apply to products sold without a warranty.
Generally, the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits manufacturers from voiding warranties based on the use of replacement, aftermarket, or third-party parts or services, unless the manufacturer offers its own replacement or aftermarket parts or services for free or the manufacturer has a waiver from the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). Liability under this anti-tying provision can be triggered even if manufacturers in theory provide the parts or services for free, but manufacturers nevertheless in practice cause consumers to pay out-of-pocket for transportation, approval, storage, and other items that cost consumers. And the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act provides a claim for consumers whose products have not been sufficiently fixed within a certain period of time or after a certain number of requests. These elements of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act supply litigants with tools to bring actions or class actions.
One goal of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is to strengthen the actual force behind warranties, especially because consumers implicitly pay more for products on the justified reliance on warranties. Another goal is to encourage prompt repairs to products, in order to make them safe and fit for the use purchased. Promoting healthy competition for the replacement, after-market, and third-party parts or services is another key goal of the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act. Violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act anti-tying provisions can also be violations of federal and state antitrust laws, depending on the manufacturer’s market power. More information about Nematzadeh PLLC’s Antitrust Practice can be found here.
Another aspect of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is that it requires manufacturers to provide a remedy if a product fails to meet the terms of the warranty. If a consumer reports a defect or problem with a product within the warranty period, the manufacturer must either repair or replace the product or refund the purchase price.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act enables consumers to sue manufacturers for damages and recover attorneys’ fees and litigation costs if they prevail. Plaintiffs may be able to bring cases on contingency; they need not pay attorneys out of pocket for fees and litigation costs. Additionally, the FTC can bring a lawsuit against a manufacturer for violations and seek civil penalties and injunctive relief.
There are some exceptions to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. It does not apply to products sold “as is” without any warranty.