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3rd Party RAM - Your Legal Rights to Server Warranties

Keystone Memory
May 16, 2005
Article by - Sherri Sheerr President Keystone Memory
See also:-.. the Fastest SSDs
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Editor's intro:-
Users know that memory and hard disk drives aren't made by most of the companies from whom they buy their servers, notebooks and desktops. But they are often intimidated from competitively buying 3rd party upgrades by sales tactics aimed at locking them in to a single source. Such tactics often hint that maintenance contracts and warranties will be void or negatively impacted by the presence of 3rd party upgrade products. That kind of anti competitive pressure is illegal in many countries. This article provides an overview of the legal protection that users may have under US law.
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3rd Party RAM - Your Legal Rights to Server Warranties

In the fast-paced world of computing systems and components, the myriad of warranties covering everything from software to servers to upgrade components can quickly make you feel like you are suffering from vertigo. In order to keep apace of technology's advancements, businesses find that they need to upgrade their computing systems long before the warranty has expired - often times, less than a full year since the system was purchased. This situation usually leaves many companies worried about the possible affects on the warranty of their expensive new systems.

The standards of warranties are codified in the Magnuson-Moss Act set forth by the US Congress in 1975. The four primary goals of Magnuson-Moss were to

a) help inform the consumer about a product's warranty;

b) give consumers the opportunity to compare warranty coverage among products before purchasing;

c) encourage warranty coverage as a basis of competition between suppliers; and

d) discourage suppliers from shirking their warranty obligations. Warranties are essentially a promise of service to repair, replace or refund defective products by the supplier.

One recent warranty controversy involves tie-in tactics employed by unscrupulous salespeople in order to trap consumers into paying higher fees for upgrades. They tell their prospects that if the customer upgraded their current system with components from other manufacturers, it would, in turn, nullify the system's warranty. Invariably, the same-brand upgrade components are priced at a premium. While scaring customers that if a problem occurs and memory is the suspect, the OEM that is maintaining the system will shut the entire system down until the memory problem is diagnosed, and most likely is not the cause… however, the customer is charged for downtime and additional labor.

From my conversations with technology buyers, this, unfortunately, is not uncommon from company to company. Whether as a technology buyer, retailer or reseller, many have confided that they were intimidated to upgrade with components from the original manufacturer or another "approved" components reseller. No one is willing to go on record and describe their experiences in fear of jeopardizing their relationships with the manufacturers.

One technology manager I spoke with, who asked to remain anonymous, admitted: "Of course we're being strong-armed by vendors. Just ask my salesman. Both of us know this. But I can't say it publicly."

Manufacturers cannot require consumers to purchase items or services in order to keep their warranty valid. These are spelled out in the finer lines of Magnuson-Moss, with which consumers - as well as suppliers - should acquaint themselves. Known as the Tie-In Sales provisions, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act strictly prohibits warrantors from making their customers buy additional products or services from any company in order to keep the warranty valid on something that has already been bought. For example, the warranty on your car is not void should you choose to replace your oil filter with a comparable one not manufactured by the car maker.

Likewise, Magnuson-Moss states that the warranty on your server cannot be voided by upgrading components, like memory boards, with parts made by a different manufacturer. More reputable computer manufacturers have openly rejected tie-in sales provisions and stood by their customers and their customers' needs in these instances.

Magnuson-Moss does not require that a supplier offer a written warranty to the consumer, but that if a written warranty is provided, the supplier is law-bound to honour it. Magnuson-Moss urges suppliers to comply by making it easier for consumers to take an unresolved warranty problem to court. The Act allows consumers to sue for warranty breach by making it a violation of federal law, and empowers consumers to recover court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees from the violating supplier.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is designed to prevent unscrupulous manufacturers from drafting grossly unfair consumer warranties and to make it economically viable for consumers to bring warranty suits. What started originally as a concern for warranties and practices for lemon automobiles has struck a chord with consumers, and raised product and service quality to a new and higher standard.

Making sure your business is complying with your warranties, and making sure the businesses you work with are complying with their warranties helps ensure your continued operation, continued customer satisfaction and potentially avoids costly litigation fees. Warranty compliance is one simple method to create and maintain the good will of your customers. By performing your obligations, you guarantee satisfied customers who return again and again.

An educated consumer is the only way to prevail over strong willed, aggressive, sales personnel. Would you buy a $2,000 camera if it only took one type of film or the warranty wouldn't hold or a home that only let you choose only one electric company or your power wouldn't be guaranteed, but the power came from the same electrical plant? Think about it…. The choice should be yours. Is it?

About the author:- Sherri Sheerr is the president of Keystone Memory Group, an international reseller of computer memory upgrades, headquartered in Langhorne, PA.

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