President Signs Consumer Warranty Statute Amendment

02 October 2015 Publication
Authors: Richard H. Casper

Legal News Alert: Distribution & Franchise

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the U.S. Congress has passed and, on September 24, 2015, President Obama signed, an amendment of the federal statute regulating warranties on consumer products, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty – Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act. The E-Warranty Act of 2015 permits disclosure of consumer warranty terms via the “manufacturer’s” Internet website.

The current Federal Trade Commission Pre-Sale Availability Rule generally requires that the full text of any written warranty on a consumer product costing the consumer more than $15 be made available before purchase, at the point-of-purchase. This requirement is implemented through separate sets of duties for warrantors and retail sellers. The current rule requires that warranties on product sales made at brick-and-mortar outlets, in door-to-door transactions, or via physical catalogs be disclosed in printed formats, e.g., on packaging, in the catalogs, and so forth.

Precisely what conditions will apply to the use of the greater flexibility granted in this legislation is unclear; the FTC is given one year from enactment of the amendment to harmonize its Pre-Sale Availability Rule with the amendment. However, the amendment itself includes two qualifications:

1. Consumer warranty text must still be made available in response to consumer requests made via a phone number, address, etc., provided by the warrantor to the consumer.

2. At the “point-of-purchase” (which, for door-to-door sales, will be the consumer’s home), the electronic disclosure alternative may be used only if the seller provides a means (e.g., a computer terminal, a tablet) on which the warranty can be pulled up.

Given the uncertainty noted, warrantors and retail sellers may wish to defer making changes to their procedures for disclosing consumer warranties until the FTC has issued its conforming rule(s).

The amendment is unlikely to have a significant impact on the duties of Internet sellers, as less formal FTC pronouncements already permit the disclosure of consumer warranty text electronically on Internet sales. It is notable, however, that the FTC last year warned Internet sellers that it believes there to be widespread non-compliance with its Pre-Sale Availability Rule by Internet sellers, and that it intends to focus enforcement efforts on that industry. (Each violation of an FTC rule is punishable by a statutory fine).


Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and our colleagues. If you have any questions about this update or would like to discuss this topic further, please contact your Foley attorney or the following:

Richard H. Casper
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
414.297.5612
rcasper@foley.com

Related Services

Insights

California Statute Offers Dramatic Change to Independent Contractor, Franchise-Franchisee Relationships
20 September 2019
Legal News: Distribution & Franchise
AI Ouch! AI Job Interview Law Starting in 2020!
20 September 2019
Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog
RCE PTA Carve-Out Resumes After Interference
18 September 2019
PharmaPatents
The Ninth Circuit Expected to Rule that Doctors Can Be Wrong in the Winter v. Gardens False Claims Act Case
18 September 2019
Legal News: Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations
Lacktman, Ferrante Cited in mHealth Intelligence About Ryan Haight Act
19 September 2019
mHealth Intelligence
Vernaglia Comments on AHA v Azar Decision
18 September 2019
MedPage Today
Tinnen Discusses How Viewpoint Diversity Helps Businesses Thrive
18 September 2019
InsideTrack
Lach Comments on Launch of New Group
16 September 2019
BizTimes Milwaukee
MedTech Impact Expo & Conference
13-15 December 2019
Las Vegas, NV
Review of 2020 Medicare Changes for Telehealth
11 December 2019
Member Call
BRG Healthcare Leadership Conference
06 December 2019
Washington, D.C.
CTeL Telehealth Fall Summit 2019
04-06 December 2019
Washington, D.C.