The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced actions settling charges that motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson and MWE Investments/Westinghouse, which makes and sells outdoor generators and related products, have engaged in unlawful repair restrictions.
The FTC charged Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse with unlawfully conditioning their warranties on the use of authorized parts in violation of both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the FTC Act. The commission also alleged that Harley-Davidson failed to provide a clear description of warranty terms in a single document, a violation of the disclosure rule.
Consent orders obtained in these matters bar both manufacturers from continuing to unlawful tie their warranties to the use of authorized service or parts and prohibit them from misrepresenting any material facts about the warranty.
Additionally, the companies are required to note, clearly and conspicuously in public statements, that using third-party parts or repair services will not void the warranty. They must also provide customers with clear notice alerting them of the change.
In 2021, the FTC unanimously adopted a policy statement committing the agency to prioritizing enforcement actions tackling unlawful repair restrictions. The Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse enforcement actions are the first addressing unlawful repair restrictions since the FTC adopted the policy statement.
According to a June 22 statement from FTC Chair Lina Khan and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, the enforcement actions “mark an important step forward, demonstrating our commitment to vigorously protecting Americans’ right to repair.”
Khan and Slaughter also stated: “It is critical that unlawful repair restrictions continue to be a key area of focus for the commission and that we continue to use all of our tools and authorities to root out these illegal practices.”