Harley-Davidson hit with lawsuit related to customers’ right to repair

Riders head down West Canal Street into Harley-Davidson’s museum campus Thursday.

Last updated on August 16th, 2022 at 01:19 pm

A federal lawsuit filed against Harley-Davidson in Wisconsin’s Eastern District Court this week seeks to recover any damages consumers who bought a Harley motorcycle from Aug. 1, 2018 up until now may have faced. Those damages are related to Harley-Davidson being fined in June after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) determined the company had violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

The FTC filed an administrative complaint against Harley-Davidson for illegally restricting customers’ right to repair their Harley bikes. The FTC’s complaint said warranties on Harley-Davidson bikes included terms that made buyers believe their warranty would be voided if they used independent dealers for parts or repairs. The FTC ordered Harley-Davidson to fix warranties by removing illegal terms and recognizing the right to repair, come clean with customers, and ensure that dealers compete fairly with independent third-parties.

Harley-Davidson entered into a consent agreement with the FTC on June 23, agreeing to findings that it had violated the Magnuson-Moss Act’s anti-tying provision when it forced warranty-holders to buy only Harley-Davidson branded parts or lose warranty coverage.

The company did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

“To maintain its dominant position in the market for parts, Harley uses its monopoly power in the large, roadgoing American bike market (and specifically the manufacturer’s warranty bundled with the new bike) to coerce customers not to purchase Compatible Parts from its competitors,” reads the complaint in the new lawsuit. “Up until the month before this filing, Harley-Davidson did this by unlawfully tying its warranty to its parts by requiring customers who bought its bikes to only use Harley-Davidson’s Compatible Parts – or else risk voiding the warranty.”

While the FTC took action against Harley-Davidson, the organization does not have the authority to recover consumers’ damages. This week’s lawsuit seeks to recover any overpayments made by the “thousands” of affected Harley-David customers, as well as any damages the court may award.

“Because Harley-Davidson illegally tied its motorcycles and, specifically, the factory warranties that go with them to its parts, Harley-Davidson’s parts have been overpriced, forcing the company’s loyal following to pay this cost, which they should not have. In this litigation, they seek to recoup from (the) Defendant that overpayment,” reads the complaint.

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Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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