Law & Order

FTC Reaffirms Consumer's Right to Repair With Action Against Harley-Davidson

By SEMA Washington, D.C. Staff

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it has taken action against Harley-Davidson for claims that it was using illegal warranty terms that restricted consumers' choices, cost consumers money, and undercut independent repair shops. The FTC's complaints charge that the company was imposing illegal warranty terms that voided customers’ warranties if they used aftermarket parts or took their motorcycles to be repaired anywhere other than at an authorized dealer. The FTC took a similar action against Westinghouse outdoor generator maker MWE Investments, LLC.

The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act protects consumers' choice by making it illegal to void a warranty or deny coverage due to the mere presence of an aftermarket replacement or specialty part, or because a repair or part installation has been performed by an independent shop (unless the original manufacturer provides the service or part for free). The FTC has the authority to take action against companies that violate the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. The action against Harley-Davidson includes prohibiting further violations, requiring language in their warranty that recognizes consumers’ right to repair, and requiring dealers be alerted to compete fairly with independent repair shops.

The FTC has become increasingly focused on right to repair issues, last year releasing a "Nixing the Fix" report that was highly critical of anti-competitive repair restrictions. In a press release regarding the action against Harley-Davidson, Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection said, "Consumers deserve choices when it comes to repairing their products, and independent dealers deserve a chance to compete…other companies that squelch consumers' right to repair should take notice."

While the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act helps provides consumer protections against voiding the vehicle warranty merely because the vehicle has been modified, SEMA has joined many other organizations representing the automotive aftermarket in urging the U.S. Congress to enact the REPAIR Act. The legislation would require automakers to provide access to the tools and information needed for the independent aftermarket to service, repair, and modify vehicles. The legislation is needed to address new technological changes such as the ability to recalibrate Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) as vehicles are repaired or modified.

To view the FTC action click here.

For further details, contact Caroline Fletcher at