Implied Warranty

An implied warranty is the assumption of the quality of goods or services that are bought or otherwise obtained. An implied warranty can be either written or verbal and is generally considered to be in effect upon the sale or purchase of merchandise. For example, if you buy a book on Amazon that is listed as being brand new (as opposed to used or pre-owned), the implied warranty is that there are no marks on the pages, pages have not been earmarked, nor is there any breakage in the binding, etc. Implied warranties exist to protect the buyer against fraud on the part of the seller.

Verbal vs. Written

In most cases, an implied warranty is verbal, especially in the case of buying something like a book or other merchandise from a store, as the assumption is that whatever it is that is being purchased will be in the expected condition (wearable, edible, etc.). There are cases, however, in which an implied warranty may be written, or for which clarification is justified. For example (again, to reference Amazon), if you are purchasing a book that is used, the expectation is that the seller is clear as to whether or not passages are highlighted, pages are torn, or any other wear and tear on the book. The implied warranty still exists within the context that the buyer is aware of the conditions of what they are purchasing and is accepting of those conditions.

Types of Implied Warranties

There exist a few different types of implied warranties:

  • Warranty of Merchantability: this is generally what we think of when it comes to an implied warranty. Warranty of merchantability is unspoken or unwritten and allows the buyer to reasonably assume that what they are buying is going to meet or fit their standards. For example, you, as the buyer, have a reasonable assumption that the new sweater you are buying at the department store is not going to have holes in it or stains on it. Warranty of merchantability additionally assumes that the seller is responsible for the conditions of the items they are selling.
  • Warranty of Fitness: protects both buyer and seller in the sale of goods, when the item is being purchased for nonordinary purposes. For example, if you buy a book with the purposes of using it to prop up a leg on your dining table, that is a nonordinary purpose. The warranty of fitness assumes that the seller will be made aware of the buyers intent and know if the book will hold the weight of the table. The warranty of fitness may not exist if the seller tells the buyer, “hey, that book isn’t going to be strong enough to hold up your table”, and the buyer purchases it for that purpose, anyway.
  • Warranty of Title: this assumes that the seller has the legal right to be selling the goods to begin with. A rather famous example of individuals not having warranty of title is the home burglary that occurred after the car accident killing actress Jayne Mansfield. The jewelry that was stolen was bought and sold by pawn shops without legal consent from her family or estate. This later allowed her children to retrieve these stolen goods. A warranty of title is included in a warranty deed, which we often think of in regard to cars and houses. Much as with warranty of merchantability or fitness, this is often implied, but the aforementioned warranty deed will sometimes be provided, particularly at pawn shops, estate sales and auctions.

Warranty Deed

While a warranty deed is generally assumed, you may find yourself in the position of buying or selling something that is either of high value or passed through multiple hands, and you want to ensure that your bases are covered. Fortunately, it is easy enough to find basic forms online which you can complete.

Additionally, if you are the buyer of a large ticket item, you can also do a title search. This will provide you further information on the real property which you are purchasing, including information pertaining to any liens or defects in the title. As a buyer, you would want to consider this part of your due diligence when purchasing an item of high value.

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