Is it really against the rules to explain how to violate a warranty agreement?

The thread in question.

The OP lives in Canada and wants to legally buy a smartphone in the US to save money. He then wants to use it on a Canadian plan and asked for advice on how to accomplish this in GQ. The thread was locked because the way to do it would potentially violate a warranty agreement.

I don’t think that this is against the rules. Should the thread really have been locked?

I don’t think it should have been closed. It’s not up to the board to enforce the consumer policies of private corporations. The OP was not trying to break the law of either Canada or the United States.

It’s similar, in my opinion, to the distinction between helping someone break the DRM on a digital file, and helping someone get around the region coding of DVD players. The board has always taken a hard line on copyright issues, but has allowed discussion of getting around region coding because it is simply a matter of corporate policy and not a legal issue.

My interpretation of the question was that he wanted to know how to fake Apple into honoring his warranty. That’s why I reported it.

What SDMB rule was violated?

It is? Then this should be enough to get me banned, for sure! You take an electronic device and a razor blade and . . . stay with me because this is really hardcore . . . you cut through the seal that says “Warranty void if seal is broken.” And the beauty part is that you don’t even have to do anything else, like open it up and poke around inside!

Well, there’s something more going on there that the mods haven’t told us and aren’t going to tell us, because after just the one post, that OP got banned.

Huh? I no see Banned under Jiggyjake’s name.

I’m not a legal expert, so I’m not sure that attempting to defraud a company in this manner is technically illegal. However, I am certain that we don’t want to have this board be the kind of place you can come for advice on how to cheat on or evade agreements, even if private. We should probably clarify the rules to make it clear that such behavior is unacceptable.

That was an error. He’s been unbanned.

<This was mostly written before Colibri’s latest reply…but I still wanted to make the point>

The OP asked for a way around the fact that Apple wouldn’t honor the warranty, and wanted advice on a way around it. What if the answer was “You can buy a third party warranty for only $30, and still come out ahead financially…”? I don’t know if such a warranty exists, but if it did, it would be a good answer. This would be a legal way around the warranty issue, without actually trying to deceive Apple.

Or…what about “If you need repairs, drive the 20 minutes back to the US.” Is it illegal or unethical to buy a device in a foreign country, and primarily use it at home?

I’d have preferred to see a note that we don’t support illegal activities, but that people were welcome to provide constructive, legal advice to the OP.

<and after Colibri’s post>I can see that that perspective, and can’t object to it too much. But it seems a tiny bit heavier handed than it needed to be.

He’s not currently banned. Either you’re mistaken, or he’s been reinstated.

I certainly agree that the thread should be allowed to run. He isn’t asking how to break the warranty. He’s really asking how to NOT break it.

I think there would have been no problem if he had phrased the question like this:
“How can I use a US phone in Canada without voiding the warranty?”

Maybe I’m interpreting it wrong, but I read it as basically “how do I get Apple to honor the warranty when they shouldn’t”, which is fraud, and illegal.

(disclaimer - I’m an engineer, not a lawyer)

If rephrased per your post I don’t see a problem with it, if that’s what the OP actually meant.

I agree that asking for advice on how to defraud a company, being a crime, is against the rules, same as asking how to get away with murder, but I take heart knowing that Jiggyjake would be laughed out of the Apple Store were he to try it. Does he not know that Apple can track the serial number and knows where that phone was sold?

I think people read it that way because of their expectations. The language was neutral, and I believe could be interpreted either way.

Did anyone check what the warranty actually says? Is it possible that the OP is wrong, and that the warranty would be valid?

How about a brief analysis of typical costs of repair, compared to the amount of savings to be had by buying across the border?

There are several perfectly legal, ethical, and moral statements that could have be made in answer to the OP.

After I closed the thread, he sent me a PM which implied that this was indeed his intent. This makes me disinclined to reopen it.

Exactly. Why not allow the thread, and maybe make a note that responses explaining how to fraudulently trick Apple into honoring the warranty are forbidden?

I’ve been known to tear the tags off of pillows.

Its good that the SDMB is looking after Apple’s interests.

Actually, it is.

After some discussion, we have decided to do exactly that.

The thread has been re-opened.

Dammit, Jim!