July 22, 2021—The Federal Trade Commission unanimously voted to increase enforcement against repair restrictions that discourage independent repairers, among other entities, from having equal right to repair products like vehicles.
The move follows an FTC report and years of research that focused on how OEMs work against independent repairers to favor automotive service and repair at affiliated dealer service centers. This new focus on enforcement will target repair restrictions that "violate antitrust laws" or use deceptive practices. This includes alleged violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said during a recent commission meeting. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”
The Automotive Oil Change Association, in partnership with other independent trade groups, have been lobbying for greater enforcement for years and applauded this latest move.
AOCA policy advisor Joanna Johnson issued a statement:
“After 19 years of submitting detailed Magnuson-Moss unlawful tying complaints, including the BMW complaint highlighted in the Nixing the Fix report to Congress and again by Commissioner Phillips during today’s open meeting, the Commission's decision to make Right to Repair a priority for enforcement and consumer protection is cause for celebration! We met with counsel for the Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection last week and have already submitted new evidence supporting enhanced enforcement.”
Included in the FTC's announcement was a policy position paper, which can be viewed here.