Product Warranty Overview

Product warranty is the guarantee a manufacturer of a product gives to the customer regarding the quality of their product and what compensation will be given if the product does not perform as advertised. Warranties will generally have exceptions to them that limit a manufacturer’s obligations. Such exceptions may include:

  • The warranty’s expiration date.
  • The product not being used as intended.
  • The product being resold after purchase.

A manufacturer may include language that places other limitations on a warranty, as well, or they may offer for purchase an extended warranty, which will offer longer protection from the warranty than that which comes with the product. The “fine print” should always be consulted when it comes to warranties.

Express Warranties

Express warranties are statements made either in written or verbal form that guarantee a certain level of functionality or quality for a specified time period. Such warranties may not appear as traditional warranties at all, but rather more like advertising claims, such as a light bulb may last for a certain number of hours or years. Any express warranty is required to be designated “full,” meaning it has no time limit or is “limited” and there is a time limit. If an express warranty is written, it will be covered under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

Implied Warranties

An implied warranty is a basic warranty that comes with almost all consumer products and is the basic understanding that a product will function as advertised. For example, an implied warranty would mean that one can expect a product advertised as a cell phone to function as a cell phone, and if it does not, then the manufacturer would be in breach of contract. To get around this, retailers may use the term “sold as-is” to void post-purchase obligations, although not all states may allow this.

Lifetime Warranties

Lifetime warranties are warranties that cover a product for much longer than a limited warranty, but often not for the product’s entire period of existence. Such warranties may be limited to the period in which the product is manufactured and sold or a few years after that point, or they may only last as long as the purchaser owns the product, meaning that those who purchase or own it secondhand will not be covered by the warranty. The term “limited lifetime warranty” may be used to indicate exclusions from a true “lifetime warranty,” and such exclusions should then be stated in the fine print.

Other Warranties and Warranty Policies

Some other warranties that may be encountered include:

  1. Credit Card Warranties. Many credit card companies will extend the manufacturer’s written warranty on products bought with the card. This varies from company to company, so the policy of your card or prospective card should be consulted.
  2. Credit Card Chargebacks. Credit card companies may also reimburse you for a defective product bought with your credit card if this is sought within a year of the purchase, the amount in question is greater than $50, and the seller is located in your state or within 100 miles of your address. Also, a claim cannot be made for an amount greater than your credit card’s outstanding balance.
  3. Goodwill Programs. Some companies will offer free or discounted products or repairs to customers who have issues, even if these offers are not stated openly in any document. When it comes to product repair or replacement, it never hurts to ask.
  4. Lemon Laws. Some states have lemon laws for such items as vehicles, pets, and even wheelchairs, which allow customers to receive some or all of their money back if the item in question is defective and cannot be fixed within a given period or after a stated number of attempts.

Some policies pertaining to warranties worth keeping in mind include:

  • Many retailers have implied warranty disclaimers on their websites, often in the terms-of-sale pages, meaning that they, not the manufacturer, are responsible for defective products, if at all.
  • Extended warranties are often not a good investment, since the products covered by them tend not to break during the time covered.
  • Consequential or inconsequential damages may also be covered by a warranty. For instance, if a defective refrigerator resulted in ruined food, the cost of the food might be covered by the refrigerator’s warranty.

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