The feds have ordered Harley Davidson to chill out. The Verge reports that the FTC has ordered the motorcycle brand to follow right-to-repair rules. The company has been engaging in shady and outright illegal practices when it comes to vehicle warranties, parts, and repairs.
The main problems stem from the company’s language in its warranties. Harley wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that the company didn’t want you going anywhere else for repairs. In the complaint issued by the FTC against the company, Reuters reported that Harley’s warranty language explicitly stated that a vehicles warranty coverage would be voided if Harley Davidson parts and services weren’t used: “the use of parts and service procedures other than Harley-Davidson approved parts and service procedures may void the limited warranty.” The company was also accused of seemingly hiding the full warranty, requiring customers to get in contact with a dealer if they wanted full warranty details.
Actions like these violate consumer protection laws and are against the very protections the FTC has been fighting for and outlined in its Nixing the Fix right to repair report. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how this kind of thing negatively affects a consumer. Consumer choices are limited causing them to spend more money and it squeezes independent manufacturers and dealers.
Harley will now no longer be able to tell customers their warranties are voided if they receive 3rd party repair or services. All of these are violations of the Warranty Act and could result in the FTC seeking civil penalties of over $47,000 for each violation broken. The company has also been ordered to add language to vehicle warranties that state the company recognizes the right to repair. According to the FTC, the language must read as: “Taking your product to be serviced by a repair shop that is not affiliated with or an authorized dealer of [Company] will not void this warranty. Also, using third-party parts will not void this warranty.”
The company must also be more open with consumers and their warranties. This includes what is probably one of the most important parts: requiring dealers to play ball. Because what happens at the corporate level rarely means the dealerships will be on board as well. Harley Davidson has yet to issue a statement regarding its warranties or the FTC complaint, and didn’t respond to Reuters’ request for comment.