You Have a Choice: The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

By Sean E. Paige

(c) Prohibition on Conditions for Written or Implied Warranty; Waiver by Commission No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer’s using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name; except that the prohibition of this subsection may be waived by the Commission if—

(1)   the warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with the warranted product, and

(2)   the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest.

The Commission shall identify in the Federal Register, and permit public comment on, all applications for waiver of the prohibition of this subsection, and shall publish in the Federal Register its disposition of any such application, including the reasons therefor.

15 U.S.C. § 2302 (1975)

How this affects you!
The manufacturer of the printer you are using cannot void the warranty on your printer because you use a cartridge or refill kit manufactured by someone other than the printer manufacturer.  This prohibition includes the use of compatible cartridges and remanufactured cartridges.
United States v. IBM (and the Sherman Antitrust Act and Clayton Antitrust Act)
You don’t have to be intimidated if your printer vendor tells you they will void your warranty on your equipment if you do not use the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) ink or toner; nor should you be intimidated if they try to charge extra because you are not using the OEM ink or toner.  Referred to as product linking, this is illegal.
The Supreme Court held that IBM could not threaten customers with termination of their data processing equipment leases just because they did not use supplies manufactured by IBM.  Such practice constituted a “tying agreement” and was found to be in violation of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts.
How this affects you!
Stand up for your right of free choice of vendor because you are acting within the letter of the law.  Your printer vendor is aware of lower priced supplies, so threatening to void warranties and service call charges are their only defense. 
Points to Remember
Manufacturers cannot legally require a printer owner or lessee—verbally or otherwise—to purchase supplies exclusively from them.
This unlawful “tying agreement” violates provisions of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
In a landmark 1936 consent decree, the Supreme Court ruled that IBM could not terminate a customer’s data processing machine lease if the customer chose to use tabulating cards from other manufacturers.  The more recent Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act specifically prohibits a manufacturer from conditioning a written or implied warranty on the use of its own brand product, except under very restrictive circumstances.
If a service representative threatens to void the machine warranty or charge for a service call because you are using a compatible supply, ask for their statement in writing.
Established in 1998, Cartridge Xchange specializes in toner and ink supplies to meet the needs of all printers, fax machines and copiers.  For more information, please contact Sean E. Paige, Sales & Customer Service Manager, at [email protected].
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