Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission recently approved a final consent order against BMW of North America, whose Mini division allegedly violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act by telling consumers that the automaker would void their warranty unless they used Mini parts and Mini dealers to perform maintenance and repair work.
In March, BMW agreed to settle FTC charges that, through its Mini Division, it violated a Warranty Act provision that prohibits companies from requiring consumers — in order to maintain their warranties — to use specific brands of parts or specified service centers, unless the part or service is provided to the consumer without charge.
The regulator explained the consent order, which will remain in effect for 20 years, prohibits BMW from violating the Warranty Act regarding any Mini division good or service. Officials added the order has two other components, including:
• Bars BMW, regarding the sale of any Mini Division good or service, from representing that, to ensure a vehicle’s safe operation or maintain its value, owners must have routine maintenance done only by Mini dealers or Mini centers, unless BMW can substantiate the representation with competent and reliable scientific evidence; or misrepresenting any material fact about warranty or maintenance requirements of any good or service; and
• Requires BMW to notify affected Mini owners of their right to use third-party parts and service without voiding warranty coverage, unless BMW provides such parts or service for free. BMW is also required to post the notice on its miniusa.com website.
The commission vote approving the final consent order and letters to commenters was 4-0.