If you look at the back of your PlayStation 4, you will notice two small stickers with text on them.
The stickers state: “Warranty void if seal removed/damaged”.
The reason the stickers exist, and display the stark warning, is to prevent PS4 owners from opening their consoles by accessing the screws and joints on back plate.
By opening the console, users could damage the internal components, or so the thought process goes.
While the stickers state that removing them voids the device’s warranty, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US recently ruled that this is not allowed.
Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, HTC, and ASUS were among the companies reprimanded by the FTC recently for telling customers that using a third-party repair service – and by extension removing the seals – would void a product’s warranty.
The FTC said the companies were violating the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which states that “no manufacturer charging more than $5 for a product may put repair restrictions on a device”.
Sony subsequently updated its warranty policy in the US and Canada to state that it will not decline to provide in-warranty service for PlayStation consoles if their warranty seal has been altered or removed.
So what does this mean for PS4 owners in South Africa – does this new rule apply to them? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be no.
According to the guarantee document posted on PlayStation South Africa’s website, users may not claim their PS4 guarantee if the product is “damaged as a result of maintenance or repair, or attempted maintenance or repair, carried out other than by a SIEE-authorised service facility”.
It further states that the guarantee is valid provided “any guarantee seal and the serial number on the product have not been damaged, altered, defaced or removed”.
Evidence “that any attempt – successful or otherwise – has been made to open or remove the casing of the product” will also see the guarantee fall away.
Sony currently provides a free one-year repair/replacement guarantee for the PlayStation 4.
To find out more about the matter locally, MyBroadband spoke to the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud.
Consumer Goods and Services Ombud spokesperson Ouma Ramaru told MyBroadband that the general right to return goods is provided for under section 20 of the CPA.
“Warranties are dealt with under Section 56. In terms of section 20, the consumer can return goods without any penalty under the following circumstances,” said Ramaru.
- When the goods are defective (6 months warranty).
- When the goods are bought from a catalogue and they do not fit the description.
- Goods that the consumer did not have the opportunity to inspect and they do not fit the consumer’s requirements or are not fit for purpose.
- Goods that were bought in terms of direct marketing and the consumer has exercised the right of cooling off after five days.
- Goods delivered are not as per order or are mixed and the consumer rejects them.
Ramaru said that in terms of warranties, any transaction or agreement for the supply of goods to a consumer carries an implied provision that “the producer or importer, the distributor, and the retailer each warrant that the goods are safe and of good quality”.
“This warranty is an implied provision in any transaction or agreement, provided the goods have not been altered or modified in any manner contrary to the instructions of the producer, importer, distributor, or retailer,” said Ramaru.
“The issue that would need to be considered is whether breaking the warranty seal constitutes altering or modifying in any manner contrary to the instructions of the producer, importer, distributor or retailer.”
Ramaru said this would need to be tested against the right of the consumer to “examine goods and to return goods that are defective within six months of purchasing them or longer, depending on the manufacturer warranty”.