In this Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, file photo, the company logo hangs at the entrance to a Harley Davidson dealership in Littleton, Colorado. Federal regulators have accused Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse of imposing illegal warranty terms on customers and ordered them to repair their warranties and ensure their dealerships compete fairly with independent repairers. The Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday, June 23, 2022, the action against the motorcycle maker and MWE Investments, which manufactures Westinghouse-branded outdoor generators and related equipment.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators have accused Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse of imposing illegal warranty terms on customers and ordered them to fix their warranties and ensure their dealerships compete fairly with independent repairers.

The companies imposed illegal warranty terms that voided customers’ warranties if they used anyone other than the companies and their authorized dealers to obtain parts or repairs – restricting their options and costing them more money , the Federal Trade Commission announced Thursday in actions against the Milwaukee Motorcycle. maker and MWE Investments, which manufactures Westinghouse-branded outdoor generators and related equipment.

Under a proposed consent agreement with the agency, companies will be prohibited from telling customers that their warranties will be voided if they use third-party services or parts, or that they must only use parts. brands or authorized service providers.

Companies will also be required to add specific language to their warranties recognizing consumers’ right to repair: “Having your product repaired by a repair facility that is not affiliated with or an authorized dealer of (name of company) will not void this warranty. In addition, the use of third-party parts will not void this warranty.

Companies must send and post notices telling customers that their warranties will remain in effect even if they purchase replacement parts or obtain service from independent repairers. They must direct their authorized dealers to remove misleading display materials, train employees, and not promote parts and branded dealers to third parties.

Last year, the FTC passed a policy statement supporting the “right to repair” that promised to strengthen enforcement efforts and pave the way for new regulations. Regulators have argued that anti-competitive restrictions have directed consumers to isolated repair networks or caused them to replace products before the end of their useful life. The idea was to give Americans more freedom to fix broken cell phones, computers, video game consoles or even tractors themselves, or to use independent repair shops.

“Consumers deserve a choice when it comes to fixing their products, and independent dealers deserve a chance to compete,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, said Thursday. “These orders require Harley and Westinghouse to set their warranties, be honest with consumers, and compete fairly with independent vendors. Other companies that stifle consumers’ right to repair should take heed. »

Unavailable parts, instruction manuals and software and diagnostic tools, product design restrictions and software locks built into devices have made many consumer products more difficult to repair and maintain, regulators say and industry reviews. Do-it-yourself repairs often require specialized tools, hard-to-obtain parts, and access to manufacturer-protected diagnostic software.

“Rubber is hitting the road on the FTC’s new focus on protecting your right to repair,” Nathan Proctor, senior right to repair campaign director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said in a statement. . “Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse aren’t the only companies using the threat of voided warranties to restrict repair. The FTC’s actions…send a clear signal that it’s time to stop violating consumers’ rights. consumers and to honor right-to-repair protections.

Harley-Davidson spokespersons did not immediately respond to a request for comment; Westinghouse spokespersons could not be reached.

The proposed consent agreement will be open for public comment for 30 days, after which the FTC will decide whether to make it final.

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