Following ‘right to repair’ decision, Harley-Davidson faces legal action
Harley-Davidson faces a pair of federal lawsuits following a Federal Trade Commission vote that upheld owners’ “right to repair” in June.
According to Reuters and other news outlets, the lawsuits do not allege Harley-Davidson broke any specific laws insofar as they may have limited owners’ choices on repair options and also allegedly threatened to void the repairs. guarantees on the installation of spare parts. At the time, Westinghouse was also singled out for its warranty and repair policies.
Apparently, Harley told owners that the bikes should be repaired at Harley-run service facilities and that factory parts should be used to repair the bikes. These actions would violate California’s anti-competition laws as well as Wisconsin’s antitrust provisions, hence the latest lawsuit.
In June, the FTC rapped Harley (and others) on the knuckles for its use of the dreaded “Terms of Service” (TOS), which stated that “the use of parts and service procedures other than parts and service approved by Harley-Davidson may void the limited warranty. If you’ve ever seen a Harley that doesn’t having spare mods would be a rare bird indeed, so the application of the TOS could potentially include thousands and thousands of owners. The FTC has told Harley and other companies to not only restate their TOS and warranty verbiage, but to notify buyers/owners/consumers of the changes.
Harley relented, making it clear that they couldn’t (and wouldn’t) void a warranty on aftermarket installation, but the new wording gave them a way out if the bike had a problem. because a spare part failed and required repair. Understood ? This is why lawyers are now involved.
Last June, we wrote that Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, said that “consumers deserve choice when it comes to repairing their products, and independent dealers deserve a chance to compete. These orders require Harley and Westinghouse to set their warranties, be honest with consumers, and compete fairly with independent vendors.
We’ll now see if a new pair of court cases will put further pressure on companies to allow consumers – especially Harley owners and tech consumers – to customize and modify their wares while offering a warranty coverage with as few asterisks as possible. Stay tuned.