3rd Party SFP Transceiver Warranty Issues

Will using 3rd party, e.g. Fluxlight’s, transceiver modules void the switch warranty?

SFP Optical Transceiver
FluxLight SFP-10G-LR Transceiver

Most IT networking professionals are well aware of the cost of optical transceivers (SFP, SFP+, XFP, etc.) when sourced from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) like Cisco, HP and Juniper. While there are some advantages to implementing a ‘brand homogenous’ network, a Google search quickly reveals the huge pricing disparity in optical transceiver pricing between OEMs and many 3rd party, or ‘aftermarket’, suppliers. For most customers, the savings from purchasing aftermarket transceivers far exceeds the economic value of brand homogeneity. That is why IT network operators have been switching in droves to 3rd party optics over the past few years.

When pushed, of course, salespeople for the big OEMs and their authorized distributors try to get as price competitive as they can. However, their hands are largely tied by contractual agreements specifying minimum sell prices. After having arguments regarding quality, availability and support issues rebuffed, the occasional desperate OEM salesperson will play their last card and claim that installed aftermarket optics in the OEMs switch will void its warranty. Well…can they really do that?

The short answer is: No! The reason they cannot void your warranty is that they are prohibited by law from doing so. Voiding of a warranty in this situation would be violating what is defined in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 (15 United States Code section 2302(c)) as a “Tie-In Sales” provision.

According to the U.S. Federal Trade commission:

“Tie-In Sales” Provisions

Generally, tie-in sales provisions are not allowed. Such a provision would require a purchaser of the warranted product to buy an item or service from a particular company to use with the warranted product in order to be eligible to receive a remedy under the warranty. The following are examples of prohibited tie-in sales provisions,

In order to keep your new Plenum Brand Vacuum Cleaner warranty in effect, you must use genuine Plenum Brand Filter Bags. Failure to have scheduled maintenance performed, at your expense, by the Great American Maintenance Company, Inc., voids this warranty.

The above is excerpted from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection webpage, to read more see: Businessperson’s Guide to Federal Warranty Law.

Of course the OEM switch manufacturer’s warranty would not cover any 3rd party optics deployed in their switches. Sometimes OEM salespersons try to exaggerate this as if it is an odd, difficult or exceptional issue. The truth is a typical network is composed of many devices from many different manufacturers, with each device supported by its manufacturer’s warranty. Your Catalyst switch is covered by a warranty from Cisco, your server from HP, your UPS from APC, and your optical transceivers from FluxLight!

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