Harley-Davidson Was Ordered to Stop ‘Illegally Restricting Customers’ Right to Repair’ by the FTC

When you buy something of significant value, you often have warranty coverage to protect your investment. But there are terms and conditions with those warranties. When those terms become too restrictive to consumers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) steps in to enact changes and penalties.

Harley-Davidson is facing more than a hand-slap from the FTC for some of its warranty coverage policies. Citing the motorcycle brand’s warranty requirements are “illegally restricting customers’ right to repair,” and the FTC is taking official action on behalf of Harley-Davidson motorists. Here’s what they did wrong and what it may mean for your motorcycle warranty coverage.

What are right-to-repair rules, anyway?

A Harley-Davidson dealership with bikes parked in front.
Harley-Davidson dealership | Getty Images

When you have a right to repair, it means just that. Should some component of your Harley-Davidson motorcycle require replacement, you should be free to explore repair and replacement services. However, based on the FTC’s findings, Harley-Davidson has violated the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.

This precedent prohibits companies from conditioning product warranties so consumers can’t explore remedies without negating their coverage. Warranty terms void manufacturers’ coverage should consumers use anyone other than the manufacturers for repairs, which is illegal. And it seems Harley-Davidson has crossed that line.

The FTC is officially cracking down

In a recent press release, the FTC is cracking the whip on a few companies for illegally restricting the customers’ right to repair, including Westinghouse, MWE Investments, LLC, and Harley-Davidson Motor Company Group, LLC.

If you own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and try to make repairs yourself or use an outside resource, you could be in danger of voiding your warranty coverage. That is, until now. As Reuters shared, an agreement is in place, and changes are coming.

According to the FTC statement provided by the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Samuel Levine, “consumers deserve choices” and “independent dealers deserve a chance to compete.” These new orders issued by the FTC will require immediate changes to Harley-Davidson’s warranty language, guidelines, and policies.

The orders will also mandate the motorcycle maker to be forthcoming and transparent with customers about the changes. Failure to incorporate remedies or take immediate action could result in civil penalties of more than $46,000 per violation.

What this may mean for Harley-Davidson’s warranty coverage

Right-to-repair violations can be costly for consumers, not to mention downright shady for those who were unaware such warranty clauses existed. This latest crackdown by the FTC will force some immediate changes to existing customers’ warranty coverage.

Be on the lookout for communication from Harley-Davidson directly, sharing the newly-added right to repair language to its warranties. It will be specific, too, indicating, “working with a repair shop that is not affiliated with Harley-Davidson will NOT void this warranty.” Third-party parts usage will also be included as a right-to-repair.

You’ll also notice other changes, including signs and communications at branded dealership locations. The FTC requires any potentially misleading language to be removed from all content and literature and a complete host of brand support to be made available for any consumers who have additional questions about their warranty coverage. This includes employee training and coaching, so teams do not promote branded parts and services over the independent, third-party options.

When right-to-repair freedoms are violated, customers pay more—your rights to find parts, service, and repair become limited. Independent providers lose out when they could be making the market more competitive and advantageous for the consumers. Harley-Davidson is getting called out right now. But based on the FTC’s statement, other brands may be on the list, too.

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