Consumer Law

Does the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Prohibit Anything?

By Amy Loftsgordon, Attorney
Find out what merchants can’t put in their warranties under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Yes. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (the federal law that governs consumer product warranties) prohibits certain terms and conditions involving:

  • implied warranties
  • "tie-in sales,” and
  • deceptive or misleading statements.

No Disclaiming or Modifying of Implied Warranties

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits a warrantor—the person or company making the warranty—from disclaiming (denying responsibility for) or modifying (changing) implied warranties in its warranty.

Implied warranties apply to all consumer products. The two types of implied warranties in consumer transactions are: the implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness. The implied warranty of merchantability guarantees that the item will work as you reasonably expect it to work. For example, if a merchant sells you a toaster, the implied warranty of merchantability is that the toaster will brown slices of bread so that they become toast. The implied warranty of fitness guarantees that if you are looking for a product for a specific use, and the seller suggests a certain product for that use, the item is suitable for that particular purpose. For example, if a customer tells a merchant that she needs a saw blade to cut through metal pipes and the merchant sells her a blade that is suitable for cutting wood—but not metal—the merchant has breached the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.) The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits a warrantor from getting rid of, changing, or revising these implied warranties.

One exception applies to the protection offered by the federal law. If the warrantor offers a limited written warranty, the Act allows the warrantor to include a clause in the warranty that also limits the length of the implied warranties. For example, if the warrantor provides a one-year limited warranty, the warranty can limit the implied warranties to one year.

Warrantors who offer "full" written warranties cannot limit the length of the implied warranties.

No "Tie-In-Sales" Provisions

A “tie-in-sales” provision is a clause in a written warranty that requires the consumer to buy an item (or service) from a specific company. If the consumer does not buy the item or service, the consumer loses the warranty coverage. Tie-in-sales provisions are not allowed under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Here’s an example of a prohibited tie-in provision under the Act:

To keep the warranty in effect on your new Premium Air Conditioner, you must purchase and use genuine Premium-brand filters. In addition, if you don’t have scheduled maintenance performed, at your expense, by the Premium Repair Company, the warranty is void.

The warrantor can, however, require you to use certain items or services if those items or services are free under the warranty. Also, a warrantor can include a tie-in provision if the FTC gives the warrantor a waiver. (The FTC gives a waiver only if the product won’t work properly without a specified item or service.)

No Deceptive Warranty Terms

Warranties can’t contain deceptive or misleading terms that seem to give coverage—but don’t. For example, a warranty can’t cover only "moving parts" on a product that doesn’t have any moving parts.

Go to the main warranty FAQ page.

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