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Magnuson-Moss Act

The Magnuson-Moss Act:
(From Washington D.C., not Las Vegas)
A federal law called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act governs consumer product warranties and protects your right to choose. The Act requires manufacturers and sellers of consumer products to provide buyers with detailed information about their warranty coverage. The Act affects both the rights of consumers and the obligations of warrantors under written warranties.

Your printer. Your choice.
Under the law, it's against the law for an OEM or anyone to make you buy a specific brand of cartridge. Nor can anyone can tell you that remanufactured cartridges will void your warranty. It's your printer, you bought it, so it's your right as a consumer to choose which brand of cartridge you use.

Information about the Act

Clarifying the Lawmakers' intentions

#1: Congress wanted to ensure that consumers could get complete information about warranty terms and conditions. By providing consumers with a way of learning what warranty coverage is offered on a product before they buy, the Act gives consumers a way to know what to expect if something goes wrong, and thus helps to increase customer satisfaction.

#2: Congress wanted to ensure that consumers could compare warranty coverage before buying. By comparing, consumers can choose a product with the best combination of price, features, and warranty coverage to meet their individual needs.

#3: Congress intended to promote competition on the basis of warranty coverage. By assuring that consumers can get warranty information, the Act encourages sales promotion on the basis of warranty coverage and competition among companies to meet consumer preferences through various levels of warranty coverage.

#4: Finally, Congress wanted to strengthen existing incentives for companies to perform their warranty obligations in a timely and thorough manner and to resolve any disputes with a minimum of delay and expense to consumers. Thus, the Act makes it easier for consumers to pursue a remedy for breach of warranty in the courts, but it also creates a framework for companies to set up procedures for resolving disputes inexpensively and informally, without litigation.

Magnuson-Moss and Your Business Practices
In order to understand how the Act affects you as a businessperson, it is important first to understand actions not intended by the Act. The Act does not:

#1: require any business to provide a written warranty. The Act allows businesses to determine whether to warrant their products in writing. However, once a business decides to offer a written warranty on a consumer product, it must comply with the Act.

#2: apply to oral warranties. Only written warranties are covered.

#3: apply to warranties on services. Only warranties on goods are covered. However, if your warranty covers both the parts provided for a repair and the workmanship in making that repair, the Act does apply to you.

#4: apply to warranties on products sold for resale or for commercial purposes. The Act covers only warranties on consumer products. This means that only warranties on tangible property normally used for personal, family, or household purposes are covered. (This includes property attached to or installed on real property.) Note that applicability of the Act to a particular product does not, however, depend upon how an individual buyer will use it.

What the Magnuson-Moss Act Requires
Congress has specified a number of mandatory warrantor requirements. They've also directed the FTC to adopt rules to cover other requirements. The FTC adopted three Rules under the Act:
* the Rule on Disclosure of Written Consumer Product Warranty Terms and Conditions (the Disclosure Rule)
* the Rule on Pre-Sale Availability of Written Warranty Terms (the Pre-Sale Availability Rule)
* and the Rule on Informal Dispute Settlement Procedures (the Dispute Resolution Rule).
In addition, the FTC has issued an interpretive rule that clarifies certain terms and explains some of the provisions of the Act. This section summarizes all the requirements under the Act and the Rules.

The Act and the Rules establish three basic requirements that may apply to you, either as a warrantor or a seller.

Rule #1) As a warrantor, you must designate, or title, your written warranty as either "full" or "limited."
Rule #2) As a warrantor, you must state certain specified information about the coverage of your warranty in a single, clear, and easy-to-read document.
Rule #3) As a warrantor or a seller, you must ensure that warranties are available where your warranted consumer products are sold so that consumers can read them before buying.

Titling Requirement
The titling requirement, established by the Act, applies to all written warranties on consumer products costing more than $10. However, the disclosure and pre-sale availability requirements, established by FTC Rules, apply to all written warranties on consumer products costing more than $15. Each of these three general requirements is explained in greater detail in the following chapters.

What the Magnuson-Moss Act Does Not Allow
There are three prohibitions under the Magnuson-Moss Act. They involve implied warranties, so-called "tie-in sales" provisions, and deceptive or misleading warranty terms.

"Tie-In Sales" Provisions
Generally, tie-in sales provisions are not allowed. Such a provision would require a purchaser of the warranted product to buy an item or service from a particular company to use with the warranted product in order to be eligible to receive a remedy under the warranty. The following is an example of prohibited tie-in sales provisions:

"In order to keep your new Plenum Brand Vacuum Cleaner warranty in effect, you must use genuine Plenum Brand Filter Bags. Failure to have scheduled maintenance performed, at your expense, by the Great American Maintenance Company, Inc., voids this warranty."
Know your rights. Call with questions.
If you have any questions about your Rhinotek Warranty or about the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, please call us toll free 1-800-695-7446 and ask to speak with a customer service representative.

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