Table of Contents_
On January 4, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act into law. Up to that point, there was little to no federal regulation on warranties offered by manufacturers and retailers. As a result, there was an issue in the market where some companies would claim to provide a guarantee. Still, they would use small print or disclaimers to mislead consumers unfairly. That said, this regulation is not all-encompassing, and certain situations are still not covered under the law. If you want to know what is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, this article will make it clear to you. You may also want to check out the right to repair law.
The goal of Congress was to give consumers a definitive guideline for the minimum of a product’s warranty. In passing the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Congress felt that consumers would achieve higher satisfaction because they would know what to expect from a company’s warranty. The problem is better today, but we still face issues like Apple’s relationship with Right to Repair. That said, Congress had four specific goals with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Before the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, companies could use dishonest disclaimers and confusing print after advertising a warranty. In addition, most companies didn’t make their warranties available to the public, even after a consumer bought their product. The Magnuson-Moss Act made this practice illegal. Eventually, due to Kirtsaeng v John Wiley & Sons, manufacturers would also adjust their copyright practices.
In addition to requiring companies to provide customer copies of their warranties, they had to be written in a way that was easier for the public to understand. Now that consumers could gain access to product warranties before purchase, they could compare one company’s warranty to another’s.
Congress hoped that because consumers could compare warranties across competing companies, those companies would seek to compete on the quality of their warranties. In addition to strengthening warranties across industries, Congress hoped that the new requirements would benefit the consumers. Because if they didn’t, folks would have to get repairs, like the best dent repair kit for a car.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Congress wanted consumers to have a streamlined process for holding companies accountable for warranty abuse. Congress set up avenues for companies to quickly settle with consumers outside of court, saving the companies from expensive legal expenses.
In addition to the Magnuson-Moss Act, Congress also instructed the FCC to draft rules that would strengthen and refine the Warranty Act. Along with these FCC regulations, the Magnuson-Moss Act breaks down into three basic rules that businesses must observe if they offer warranties.
Under the law, a warrantor must either label a written warranty as “limited” or “full” so that a consumer knows it is defined under the law.
The act specifies that a warrantor must provide a product’s warranty in a single, clear, and easily read-document.
Warrantors are required to provide the warranty information for any warranted product at the place of sale.
Warrantors cannot use misleading disclaimers or change implied warranties. This means that a consumer can expect a baseline level of implied warranty under the law.
Warrantors cannot require or imply additional purchases to validate a different product’s warranty. Warrantors can, however, require the use of a specific item or service if they are accessible to the consumer.
Warrantors cannot offer a warranty that provides no coverage. For example, if a warranty covers LED lights on a product that doesn’t contain LED lights, it is meaningless.
For even more on your consumer rights, read our article on what is the right to repair.
What precipitated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act?
It was prompted by merchants’ rampant abuse of express warranties and disclaimers.
What is a full warranty?
A full warranty covers the entirety of a product. It also covers replacement, repair, and labor costs.
Does Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act apply to cars?
The act applies to cars under their manufacturer warranties.
STAT: Before a sale, sellers must provide written warranties to consumers for products that cost more than $15. (source)