Staff of the Federal Trade Commission hosted a workshop on July 16, 2019 to examine ways in which manufacturers may limit third-party repairs and is seeking research focused on such limitations.
Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions focused on how manufacturers may limit repairs by consumers and repair shops and whether those limitations affect consumer protection, including consumers’ rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The workshop discussed some of the issues that arise when a manufacturer restricts or makes it impossible for a consumer or an independent repair shop to make product repairs and whether such restrictions undercut the Warranty Act’s protections.
In preparation of the workshop, FTC staff requested empirical research and data that responded to several questions, including:
- The prevalence of the certain types of repair restrictions
- The effect of repair restrictions on the repair market in the United States, and the impact that manufacturers’ repair restrictions have on small and local businesses
- The effect repair restrictions have on prices for repairing goods, accessibility and timeliness of repairs, and the quality of repairs
- The effect of repair restrictions on consumers’ ability to repair warrantied products or to have the products repaired by independent repair shops
- The relationship between repair restrictions and the sale of extended warranties by manufacturers
- Manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions and the factual basis for such justifications
- The risks posed by repairs made by consumers or independent repair shops
- The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers or independent repair workers are injured while repairing a product
- The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers are injured after using or coming into contact with a product that has been repaired improperly by a consumer or independent repair shop
- Whether consumers understand the existence and the effects of repair restrictions
The ABPA submitted a document in response to the request, including supporting data attachments. The ABPA’s response can be downloaded below: