FTC action against Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse for limiting right to repair
204 comments·June 23, 2022
I fully agree that this is just one of the many battles in a long war by the elite to erase private ownership completely. People call it a conspiracy theory but the trend is very clear to see, and has been accelerating for the past few decades. Thus it is good to see some opposition showing up.
"You will own nothing, and be happy." -WEF
In discourse big capital has done well to erase the distinction between personal and private property.
Big capital has been fighting to strengthen private property and eroding personal property.
- ¿Drawing a schematic of a thing you own for repair?
- ¿Creating a spare part to repair a thing you own?
Those infringe on companies private property so you must have no rights over your personal property.
I would say that intellectual property is not part of private property.
There's also no easy distinction made between private and personal property, and any attempt to define one is nonsensical. There are endless examples where something is both personal and private property, or rapidly switched between the two.
Yet another aspect of Marxist theory that fails to hold up to even the lightest scrutiny.
This is indeed a battle. One could even, by identifying patterns, refer to it as a "class struggle". But isn't it a little bit too telekinetic to suggest that the World Economic Forum is working to advance its ideology through Harley-Davidson?
What's happening is more like a lot of bugs trying to get into a box of food. The marketers and their lawyers have always used whatever tricks are at their disposal to sell one product and ship another, and if the latter is just a use license, so much the better. They don't need to be actively coordinated; their actions naturally support one another by damaging the box.
>The FTC also alleged that Harley-Davidson failed to fully disclose all of the terms of its warranty in a single document, requiring consumers to contact an authorized dealership for full details.
>By telling consumers their warranties will be voided if they choose third-party parts or repair services, the companies force consumers to use potentially more expensive options provided by the manufacturer. This violates the Warranty Act , which prohibits these clauses unless a manufacturer provides the required parts or services for free under the warranty or is granted an exception from the FTC.
The Warranty Act was enacted in 1975. This is not a new fight. It is an ongoing conflict that requires each generation to be engaged in defending the box and repairing it.
The whole "you will own nothing and be happy" was part of what amounted to a creative writing exercise by economics researchers on possible futures. Certainly not some guiding principle of the world economic forum.
+1. I think it’s misinterpreted without context. The quote came from a thought experiment about an extrapolated and exaggerated version of the future based on current tendencies in society. In that universe, everything is provided as a service, SaaS-style, and gives no control to their customers. Other topics in the same presentation included "what if personal privacy becomes a luxury?", where most people accept the invasiveness of such services in exchange of convenience, and only a minority can even afford their alternatives in practice.
The authors were not saying it’s the society that the World Economic Forum should be working to create, just that it seems remotely possible, certainly not a plan for a conspiracy. Rather, it’s more similar to a fiction like The Brave New World... On second thought, regardless of whether you treat it as a fiction or as an actual conspiracy, you get the same message, so I’d say the thought experiment is successful in that aspect.
Isn't this something communists strived for? Common ownership of the means of production. It's interesting to see it in a capitalist context.
>"You will own nothing, and be happy." -WEF
And studies show the more stuff you own, the happier you are, so this is a direct attack on happiness. Experiences don't matter, stuff does.
> I fully agree that this is just one of the many battles in a long war by the elite to erase private ownership completely. People call it a conspiracy theory but the trend is very clear to see, and has been accelerating for the past few decades.
I think the conspiracy theory is imagining a bunch of wealthy elites sitting around in a dark room Illuminati style discussing how they can turn everyone into serfs renting everything from them.
The reality is that our capitalist economy is very short sighted and wants quarterly profits and returns. Subscriptions provide predictable and constant income, you can tweak the later both by raising prices or increasing subscribers.
>a long war by the elite to erase private ownership completely
well, according to Marxism that is a way to socialism :) And USSR was exactly it - a country of wage-slaves not owning anything and ruled by the elite.
The problem is products that are tethered by the manufacturer.
This tethering should not be allowed. Anything that a manufacturer does to a product after it is sold should in principle be possible through another party.
This only makes sense if a company is no longer liable for damages if a product has been modified. Then we need to define for every product what is considered a modification, and figure out how to factually determine that.
It’s not as simple as it seems.
At least in the case of motorcycles, they are close enough to cars (and bicycles) that there is probably an extensive history of case law and perhaps even regulations already in place. Car makers are obligated to provide parts to third party mechanics and even consumers. So this is not uncharted legal territory.
If nothing else, other industries wrestling with right-to-repair should probably assume that they can model themselves after the automotive industry.
There are other industries that have long traditions of repairability, such as home appliances, gas powered garden equipment, and so forth. I've repaired most of the appliances in my house at some point. I've found replacement parts to be readily available and not exorbitant.
I will have to write-off my rights, if my 20 bucks coffee machine kills me due to using a re-usable cartridge instead of the one blessed by the vendor /s
aren't we doing this already? When you try to overclock your CPU or GPU it says "if you do this you void your warranty", and that's pretty much it. It's not that simple but it's also not that hard, there's often a pretty big line between trivial modifications or modifications that might fry whatever device you're dealing with.
If there's a gray line it'll come down to some third party judging it but I don't think this is any different from say, verifying an insurance claim.
If you don't want anyone else to work on your products, then you need to only rent or lease them out.
If you claim to "sell" the product to the customer, then THE CUSTOMER OWNS IT, and should be able to do whatever T.F. they want, including decompiling, reverse-engineering, breaking locks or codes, etc.. The only thing they should not be able to do is manufacture and resell copies of it.
And, if you only lease/rent your product, you are responsible for disposal at the end.
Seems like a reasonable distinction and deal to make.
Acting like you are selling something when you are really only leasing it out, and withholding information and rights to the object is dishonest.
Just because it is profitable does not mean that it is right.
This needs to be codified into law.
Yeah the word "sell" and "buy" is false advertising right there, it's very ingrained that buying and selling imply absolute ownership, all the way down to chattel slavery, where "buy" and "sell" are insulting. Very very ingrained.
What you’re describing is already the case, the law you want is that people who sell things have to give you the keys, tools, specs, and parts necessary to do the modifying.
Not true in the US. Thanks to the DMCA it is illegal to break encryption on objects you own.
Can you please tell me in what country that is the case, and to what extent?
What do they do about vendors that don't cooperate, like John Deere, or Sony?
(Serious question, not sarc. It definitely is not the case in the US, and the country that already has such laws might be a good indicator of a good place to move).
Authenticating cartridges is so 2008
Leasing ink on a per page basis is in now: https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/cv/instantink
The ink disappears if you don’t pay your subscription fee.
It’s amazing libraries have managed to stay true to their goal and not charge membership fees. Should authors be getting residuals on every read of their book in the same way every Netflix play of a movie pays an actor???
The movie industry would cease to be an industry otherwise. It would become all indie movies, Cannes and the like and maybe some state sponsored propaganda. So no Spiderman or X-men for you, just movies about real life, Sweedish movies about the super rich getting marooned on an island after a storm and ending up at the mercy of the housekeeper.
This is actually not such a bad idea for liquid inks. Terrible idea for toner though.
Those liquid cartridges are always drying up essentially causing you to throw away money you spent. For this type of cartridge getting the cartridge replaced frequently puts the burden on them and saves you money if you don't print much.
For toner it makes more sense to just buy the cartridge and hold on to it.
I mean the cartridges could just be designed to last longer, I'd bet you their high capacity models for this program do since now the cost benefit leans towards that...
I don't think that's the issue in this case, though. This is about a more subtle issue.
From what I understand from the article, Harley and Westinghouse aren't stopping you from repairing your own stuff, it's just that doing so voids their warranty. Presumably on the logic that you may have made changes that they can't be expected to support, or inexpert repairs could have caused damage.
And there's some logic to that, but it ignores the fact that if the item is still under warranty, those independent repairs should have been done under warranty too. (I guess emergency repairs where the owner can't afford to wait for the official repairs are the primary reason for such repairs?) And also that such repairs could have been done expertly or have been very limited, so revoking warranty for them may still be unjustified.
But I'd say there's a bit of grey area here. I don't think you can expect manufacturers to clean up other people's mess for free under warranty.
I don’t disagree but this is about warranties. Apple etc make it difficult to just repair, because they glue stuff together and invent weird screws that need specialized tools. Just hard to repair.
This legal action is about Harley saying your warranty is void if you have repairs done through a third party.
I mean the law says whatever it says and that’s the end of it, but it sounds like crap to me.
If I sell you a widget and I guarantee it’ll work for 5 years as long as you have me repair it instead of bob the janitor, I have a hard time seeing the problem. Frankly I think if you have bob the janitor repair your widget it’s now on bob to provide a warranty.
But what I think doesn’t matter, whatever the law requires is.
That's not the point at all. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty act arose out of scams perpetrated by car manufacturers, who tried to invalidate warranties unless you bought "Ford" oil or "Chevrolet" tires.
This goes beyond third-party repairs. The law says the company can't invalidate a warranty even if the user MODIFIED the product in question, unless the modification caused the issue for which the customer is seeking warranty service.
So the problem is this attempt to invalidate an entire warranty because of irrelevant actions the owner might have taken.
Is a concept of consumer rights really that alien to you?
>I guarantee it’ll work for 5 years as long as you have me repair it instead of bob the janitor
Its called a lease aka I dont own a thing, I just pay rent. https://www.gmfinancial.com/en-us/business-financing/busines...
I’m not saying you can’t have bob the janitor fix it. I’m just not going to guarantee bob the janitor didn’t screw the whole thing up. But knock yourself out, have bob fix whatever. It’s your widget.
Realistically, while it's "about warranties", it's also about making more money: "How can we deny more warranty claims and make more money?"
It also starts from the assumption that the "authorized" repairer can repair something better than an unauthorized repairer, which is silly.
Also see this comment for a practical take:
At least in the consumer foods space, Juicero put paid to going too far in this direction when the product reviewers found you could just as easily manually squish the bags to make juice.
The case is really about abusive restrictions on warranties by attempting to void warranties if repairs were made by independent dealers.
I think it was deemed abusive partly because independent dealers are deemed skilled professionals. But I also thing that it might not have been a restriction on the "right to repairs" if warranty had been void if you had tried to repair yourself (and perhaps they do have such a clause as well).
"According to the Magnuson-Moss Act, a vehicle manufacturer cannot automatically cancel your warranty just because you’ve installed aftermarket car parts. This is an illegal practice. That said, if your aftermarket part somehow causes or contributes to a failure in your vehicle, the dealer may be able to deny your warranty claim—as long as they can prove the connection. In these cases, the burden of proof is entirely on the dealership."
If your cheap replica part causes issues to the thing you're trying to warranty then yes. If you replace the headlights with crappy clones from ebay, and Chevy says your warranty is void on your transmission, no.
That makes sense. Thanks for clarifying.
Totally valid question that prompted a great answer. Thank you!
For some context, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act  mentioned above was made a law in 1975. This action by the FTC is basically calling HD and WH out on their noncompliance with this law, and more generally announcing their intention to enforce it more boadly. It's unfortunate that the FTC has allowed this lawbreaking behavior run rampant for decades, but I'm glad that they've gotten off their laurels and are finally moving on it now.
I take it you only use OEM Ford fuel in your car, because third party could cause 'other problems with the engine'?
The onus is on warrantor to prove third party components caused damage.
I don't think people should downvote comments like these. It started a good discussion.
I think most of the comment was just fine. The second phrase of the first sentence (not planning on ever owning) probably pissed people off and didn't add to the discussion. It's ok to not want products from companies. But it's mostly inflammatory to reduce the entirety of a company to a weird clause written in the warranty that was just some lawyer thing.
That all being said, it's the top comment at this point
I was trying to get across that I'm neutral or I don't have a vested interest in either company. I certainly could have phrased it better.
I think that was just them stating their priors, and it wasn't a consequence of the logic of their post.
How is it inflammatory? It's a simple statement of intent.
Anyone getting butt-hurt over that should go back to Reddit.
Exactly. But unfortunately Hacker News is becoming Reddit; where infantile, insecure shut-ins downvote facts they don't like.
John Deere is a consistent (imposing) presence in almost all discussions of right to repair simply because they understand the power we people have: Once right to repair is established in law and public opinion, nothing they can do will stop farmers from being able to work on their own tractors.
I paid for books (and beer) in college with a summer farm job. I did equipment maintenance and drove trucks. We ran John Deere 6602 combines from the mid 1970s. This was in the late 2000s.
They were an absolute dream to work on. Everything was straightforward and consistent. The assembly was well thought out to enable in the field repairs. In my mind at the time John Deere was a brand that understood the needs of farmers.
I can't reconcile their current position on right to repair with my experience. Something clearly changed between the 1970s and today.
Sure you can. They don't care about farmers because farmers are a smaller percentage of their business each year. When Private Equity buys all the mega-farms, they won't care about having to rent tractors from JD. Actually, they would prefer it because you can CapEx a maintenance contract instead of putting it on OpEx. It does mean that there will be an ever growing opportunity for a smaller tractor company that actually does care about farmers but JD knows where their bread is buttered and they don't care about the little guy.
My grandfather and his brother (sons of poor immegrants) traveled halfway across the country in their youth with nothing but a motorbike and some tools. They stopped at a farm each night and worked out a deal to do some equipment repair work in exchange for food and a place to sleep.
Those days are long gone. Fewer small family farms, fewer friendly and trusting people, fewer simple things for mechanically minded handy men to fix.
There's a lot of good things progress brings us, though it is often interesting to ponder on what we have lost.
> Something clearly changed between the 1970s and today.
MBAs took over American companies. They're the ones who cook up these exploitative ideas so that no money is ever left on the table.
Man different CEO, they got the sales (wrong word in this case, see my other comment about selling) in charge of the company. Clearly. I highly doubt John Deere--the man named John, last name Deere, the actual living breathing human--would have stood behind like tractor on a cloud.
Tractors on the cloud.
Castles in the sky.
Im not a farmer and have no interest in tractors, however just from general media consumption it seems to me the John Deere and self-repair issue has been talked about at lengths for many years now. Do they really have such a stranglehold on the market that there are no alternatives? I would assume every potential buyer now knows about the repair issues, and can buy a different brand.
As a john deere employee not speaking for my company, repair issues are non existent to most customers. They go to the dealer and buy any part or tool they need, including the same scan tools the dealer uses.
Everytime I dig into someone complaining about right to repair I find someone who wants to bypass emissions controls.
Well, the article mentions Harley-Davidson, which some claim makes 2-wheeled tractors.
tractor tech is non-trivial, but with more investors open to hard tech, building "open" tractors to compete with "closed" tractors like john deere seems like a potential startup opportunity and could also contribute to future trends like robotic farming.
Sorry but... facts: what do you mean by "how the oiler works"? What oiler? Did you buy a 1950s Harley?
The three oils? Yes, that's a Harley. That's what they have: three oil pans, all separate. If you do not want that, do not buy a Harley.
If another system / design is better engineering doesn't come to the table. Harley-Davidson is upfront in: three oils. If you want a Harley, you get three oils (unleas you get a Vrod, or a Sportster, or one of the new Pan America or Sportsters with the new Revolution Max motor).
I sat on one a few years ago. I was immediately taken aback at how much corrosion had already set in on a new bike. It occurred to me that it was by design to get people to buy more shit. I got off and never looked back. Rode plenty of foreign bikes that were as corroded but they were 10-20 years old.
Actually kind of sad, I know someone who makes $70k a year and rides a $50k Harley. They will finance anyone...sky is the limit. The marketing is such that you get sucked in with a $15k bike and they are setup to continually trade in and up...anytime. Racket on unsophisticated people.
I had a sportster with the engine solidly mounted to the fame. Drove it over 10,000 miles one summer. It was totally fine. Nothing broke or rattled loose.
That’s not a lot of distance. Japanese bikes will reach 60k with basic maintenance and nobody will bat an eye.
Anecdotally, I got my 2006 GSXR1000 to 130 000km(80 000 miles). I only sold it because I was moving into a bigger city. Having to trawl around in 1st using the clutch most of the time was not appealing.
I ride commuter most days and used to do on weekends. I like the 2nd hand market having so many low mileage bikes.
While I am not about to make disparaging remarks on Harleys reliability, I won't buy one because I like my bikes to perform.
Also, amongst my friends the "Boomer cosplay stores" comment rings true. Nothing inherently wrong with that I guess but not my crowd. I mean, people buy italian supercars to pose down slow streets with too. Your money, do what you want.
My sportster went about 30K miles before it was stolen so can't say how far it would go. But insurance gave me more than I paid for it brand new, which you can't say about Japanese bikes.
When did he sell Harleys? The 1970s?
It's almost laughable to say that about most of their bikes past the introduction of the Evolution in 1984. Their latest engine is as about as smooth as a V-Twin can get.
Far from smooth compared to the v-twins from Ducati which are even at the same pricepoint. And if you said that to an older HD rider, they would be offended! Some of them like the rumble -- they like it quite a bit, actually
Yeah, today they're just overpriced.
The years under AMF ownership were bad quality-wise.
>....a[n!] H-D dealer but privately, rode everything but H-D and said the bikes were shit.
And word didn't get around? Hmmmmmm......
not really, high barrier of entry and one source of branded material/license means it's totally dependent on HD, which, very soon will go dealer hostile.
Repairing modern motorcycles isn't difficult. Even working on state of the art throttle-by-wire engines isn't difficult, other than it taking a bit more time to get all the fairings off. This is about what effect repairs will have on the warranty - and if you're building a custom, you're usually going to start with a bike that's out of warranty anyway.
The only overlap is getting hold of the manuals. Bike manufacturers have started to put them online only, like car manufacturers, and charge for access. That's a pain in the neck.
I imagine it's because they view those as most winnable. Probably a combination of egregiousness and strength of defense (money). I have to hope that winning this case sets precedent for future cases against larger entities.
Apple turn was in 2018 https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/blog/2018/04/ftc-staff... not that anyone enforced it after the warning - apple still refuses warranty after you replace screen or battery with third party.
Woah, in the law details matter. You can be in favor if the idea of right to repair and oppose all proposed laws because the details are bad.
Does Tesla void the warranty if parts are replaced with third party ones and those third party parts are unrelated to the failure?
No, they demand your VIN number before they'll sell you parts, and god help you if they've decided your chassis is no longer fit for the road.
They will also refuse to service the car or do bodywork on it (and they are the only place you can get bodywork for a Tesla done, I believe, as Tesla refuses to make bodyparts available), stop providing over the air updates (a violation of federal law, I believe), disable supercharger network access (and in the US, that means no fast charging whatsoever, as Tesla only sells a CCS 1 adapter in South Korea, and US cars lack the software to talk to a CCS charger), and turn off features that the owner had "purchased."
Richrepairs has found that they are quite arbitrary about when they declare a vehicle "totaled", and there's no recourse (except via civil court, I guess?)
To head the inevitable responses off at the pass, such as "well it's got that incredibly dangerous high voltage stuff, they have a duty to make sure it doesn't start a fire or kill someone":
* no other automaker requires VIN numbers for authorization purposes. You can walk into any car dealership and ask for a part number, and get it.
* no other automaker makes it their business to declare their vehicles road-worthy or not. No car manufacturer bothers to maintain such records except maybe for recall notification purposes, or tracking historical vehicles (such as non-road-legal, factory-built race cars for which there will eventually be heritage)
* no other automaker makes parts sales contingent on whether the vehicle is road-worthy or not. Or even if such a vehicle exists. GM, Ford, Dodge, and numerous other automakers will in fact sell you "crate" engines for whatever purpose you want. Again, no questions asked.
...all that, for vehicles that use a carcinogenic, poisonous, highly flammable fuel called "gasoline" which readily generates highly flammable, heavier-than-air vapors.
Or, for that matter, for their electric vehicles. A number of which use twice the voltage Teslas do.
Fair points, tbh. Does Ford make the battery pack and inverter available for purchase? It was my understanding the the Mach-E eluminator crate motor requires third party controllers because you can't buy their inverter and controller?
Laughing and clinking drinks. Look at their stock past five years. They're a monopoly.
In which way are they a monopoly? Is that US specific? In the UK/EU there are at least half a dozen different tractor brands which I could name, all of them with significant market share.
John Deere limits your options with regard to repair. It's not so much a monopoly as it is anticompetitive
AGCO has like 1/5th of the farm equipment market in the US. Massey-Furgeson and Allis-Chalmers being their big two tractor brands.
I don't think a brand being fashionable, to a middle aged demographic, makes them a monopoly. They're just popular. There are plenty of other similar bikes that can be bought.
edit: I'm an idiot. I read the comment as being about Harley Davidson.
John Deere doesn't make bikes. They make tractors and farm equipment.
They are laughing, decades disrespecting the law and not even a fine.
John Deere, Apple, Sony... all of them. To a larger point with miniaturization, however, surely there is a point where third party repair might be very difficult, if not impossible.
Modern Lexus cars appear to be going this way too. It's nothing but a bunch of shenanigans and plastic under the hood now.
It's affected pretty much all cars for the last 15 years or so. I really think a 2000s era car was peak car. You had safety via ABS and airbags, efficiency via decent mpg in most cars by that era especially anything imported, but you still had sense with mechanical throttles, simple bulletproof manual transmissions, and steering by mechanical linkage. Anything that isn't a VW/Audi you could reasonably do all the work yourself in your garage. Very nonintimidating and accessible engine bays in 2000s/1990s hondas I've found. You could do the VW/Audi too if you had tons of time and an engine lift.
If you have a decent car from that era like that, hang on tight to it and take care of it, and watch the value just soar over the years, because they will never make them like that again.
Apple recently* announced their self-service repair:
Possibly this was just to head off this kind of enforcement aimed their way.
I think it's more to do with the overall company strategy.
As phones have matured as a product people have stopped buying them at the same pace as in early years. And so to counteract this Apple has gone heavily into services, accessories etc.
So just as Apple has increased OS support periods for phones they are much happier now for people to fix their phone and stay in the ecosystem than switch to Android.
Only at the point at which they themselves cannot repair it.
If one human can repair it, so can other humans. They can argue “safety” all day but there is nothing magical about certification.
> If one human can repair it, so can other humans
Not all humans are created equal.
Repairing a mechanical watch for example requires fine motor skills, decent eyesight, impeccable patience etc.
And modern day electronics are fast approaching that level of complexity.
Most recent right to repair move  came with an exception for them. I wouldn't be surprised if all other ruling that would touch would be either stalled or advanced with a special exception for them.
In case you didn't know you can now get free access to all the service manuals via https://service.tesla.com. I'm guessing it was a recent development to try and stave off such a suit.
No, it's because Massachusetts and other state right-to-repair laws.
However, instead, Tesla just won't sell you parts. Either "hard" ("sorry, we show that VIN number as no longer road worthy") or soft ("that part is back ordered")
As much as I would love for Tesla to offer high voltage parts (motors, inverters, controllers, etc) to the public, I don't think this ruling was intended to force the sale of parts to third parties.
I'm not aware of a case of Tesla ignoring Magnuson Moss to deny a repair.
Although the limiting of supercharging and other DCFC on salvage vehicles has been a problem. I'd like to see something done about that, but I'm not sure if there's a law that applies.
What if you're l3 certified through ASE to work on all those components? Why can't those people buy any of those parts without working for Tesla? Its not limited to high voltage components, Tesla won't sell you a simple fender either.
People don't always understand me when I make this argument. We aren't just talking about fixing your own Tesla in your driveway. We're talking about your certified master mechanic that has more qualifications than an average tesla tech fixing it at their independent shop.
I wasn't aware that fenders were restricted, but I've also never seen anyone try to order them. Mostly I've seen people buying things like charge ports, either due to physical damage or potential upgrades. Interestingly, these aren't considered high voltage and are unrestricted, though a few people have had issues with their local service center.
I agree with you, though. There should be a way to be certified independently to buy all parts (HV or otherwise).
Friend has a 2020 model y with a clear balance issue. I suggested firestone or a local tire shop but he's so scared tesla will void his warranty he's waiting on them to service it. I don't disagree - they probably are tracking exactly where that vehicle is.
That's silly. Our mobile service tech happily recommended a local shop when I asked who he uses. Some of the Tesla service departments will encourage you to use local tire shops for routine tire work, too, as it reduces the load on them.
A bigger issue is that some shops don't like to deal with the risks of lifting a car with a battery. Poor lift procedures can cost them a lot of money, and some avoid the liability. Most have reported success with Discount Tire, Costco, and other normal shops, though.
Not sure, but it feels a bit odd to discuss success with tire changes for car brands in 2022...