Iowa Farmers Union Files Complaint To FTC Against John Deere
The Iowa Farmers Union and National Farmers Union are amongst groups petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to open an investigation into Deere and Company on repair restrictions. These restrictions have prevented farmers and ranchers from repairing their Deere equipment or getting repairs done by independent sources.
In the official complaint, the groups accused Deere of designing their equipment to only be fixed by Deere-authorized technicians.
“Thus, when an issue arises with Deere equipment, farmers and ranchers must contact their local Deere dealership, pay artificially inflated repair fees to Deere and its representatives, and often wait for days before the issue can be resolved”
The complaint goes on to say that Deere’s repair restrictions also constitute an unlawful monopolization or attempted monopoly under the Sherman Act.
“Furthermore, Deere has engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices by falsely representing to its customers that it would soon change its policies and loosen its repair restrictions”
This goes against Deere’s 2018 promises
In September 2018, Deere agreed that beginning January 1, 2021, maintenance, diagnostic, and repair information was to be made available for users “at fair and reasonable terms.”
However, Deere did not live up to the commitment it made. Instead, Deere turned the information into a new profit center. In 2021, Deere began selling Customer Service ADVISOR providing some diagnostic information to farmers.
To use the Customer Service ADVISOR, farmers need to:
- Pay a onetime fee of $5,000 for a “dongle” that plugs into Deere equipment
- Annual subscription fee $2,500 to maintain access to the information
Even after paying for the service, the Customer Service ADVISOR does not make all the codes available to farmers needing to make repairs.
Ag groups filing the complaint asked that the Federal Trade Commission
- investigate Deere’s use of anticompetitive exclusive dealing, tying, attempted monopolization, and monopolization
- take appropriate action to enjoin Deere from withholding information in its possession that is necessary for the repair and maintenance of Deere equipment
- impose all other penalties and take other appropriate actions as are just and proper
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