A few types of warranties apply to consumer products. Some are custom made by manufacturers, and others are written into the laws about consumer products.

Types Of Warranties

Warranties are an assurance of a product's quality. Even when there is no explicit warranty on a product, it is most likely covered under a consumer purchase warranty. Thus, warranties can be direct or implied. They can also be verbal or written.

The law accounts for both expressed and implied warranties. Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) provides the legal basis for an implied warranty. The UCC is a way to simplify interstate legal issues. Its commerce laws apply in all States and the District of Columbia. Article 2 was revised in 2003 but not adopted by any state until 2006.

Express warranties can be verbal or written. They ensure that a product will meet basic standards for reliability. Manufacturers generally issue these warranties with their consumer products. You have likely seen one before. When a product does not meet basic standards, the manufacturer agrees to fix or replace it at no additional cost. These warranties may come inside the product package. Sometimes, they are made available as an extra option. Express warranties can include terms agreed upon during a sales negotiation, those written in the product packaging, and more. An express warranty is made legal in a few different ways:

  • Through the statements made by the manufacturer about the product
  • Through a description of the product or service
  • Through a product sample that is used in a sales pitch

Verbal express warranties can be along the lines of "I guarantee the parking brake will last the lifespan of the car." If the car does not perform to this standard, the buyer can return to the seller to try and remedy the situation. However, proving a verbal warranty like this can be difficult without the cooperation of the seller.

Warranties can also include subtle marketing language used by the manufacturer. For example, if a light bulb's package says "Lasts 20,000 hours," and then the light bulb burns out after 5,000 hours, a certain type of express warranty applies. This is true even if the packaging does not say this claim is "guaranteed."

Sometimes, warranty lengths for consumer products are listed in the product's documentation. If not, the consumer has four years from the date of purchase to make a claim against the warranty. Note that this doesn't mean the product needs to last four years. What it means is that the product should meet standards set by manufacturers. If a defect is discovered within four years, the consumer can make a claim.

Implied warranties, on the other hand, mean the product should work as advertised. This is an unspoken rule that sellers should provide products that work. Whether the seller makes any guarantees or not, the law guarantees that this unspoken rule is upheld. The concept "fair value for money spent" is one that is written into consumer legal code, and it is at the heart of the implied warranty. An example of a breach of implied warranty is a vacuum cleaner that does not have enough suction to vacuum a standard floor.

The implied warranty of merchantability includes the following aspects:

  • A product must meet the standards of trade.
  • Products should be able to meet their ordinary use purpose.
  • Products should be similar in quality and quantity.
  • Products must be packaged for their intended purpose.
  • Products should meet the standards specified on their packaging.

Used goods are also covered by implied warranties. However, some states allow merchants to invalidate this contract by marking used goods "Sold As Is." In that case, no warranty applies, not even an implied one. Instead, the seller is clearly indicating that the products are in less than perfect condition and, as such, the buyer is taking the risk that the product will not perform all of the duties expected of a new consumer good. Certain states do not allow this cancellation of warranty, and they include:

  • Alabama
  • Vermont
  • Maryland
  • Washington
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • New Hampshire
  • West Virginia
  • Kansas
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Maine
  • Minnesota

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