What Is an Implied Warranty?
Implied warranty laws were made to protect consumers against faulty products under the Uniform Commercial Code, published in 1952. It was made to ensure that merchants didn’t take advantage of consumers and to provide consequences for merchants who did.
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Implied Warranty Definition
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), implied warranty can be a written or oral assurance that that a product meets the expectations for the purpose for which it was intended. Though some merchants offer express warranty, implied warranty applies to any and all products sold. Implied warranty prevents merchants from selling their products under false promises, ultimately protecting the consumer.
For example, if a consumer buys a pair of earphones, the implied warranty is that they will play music from a device with an audiojack. If the earphones aren’t able to play sound, then they would break the implied warranty and the customer would be entitled to a refund or a working product.
Implied warranty can be written or oral and applies to any product sold unless expressly disclaimed. Continuing with the example of the earphones, if this particular pair of earphones were toy earphones that did not play music, and those qualities were expressly written on the description, then the consumer would have no right to a refund because the product fulfilled its purpose — even if it wasn’t what the customer intended to buy.
Implied Warranty of Merchantability
A warranty of merchantability is the most common type of implied warranty, which states that a product will do what it is made to do. However, not all products are always covered by this type of warranty.
Products Sold ‘As-Is’
When a product is clearly labeled to be sold “as-is,” it is no longer under the implied warranty of merchantability. By purchasing a product labelled “as-is,” the consumer acknowledges that the product may not work as a new, warranted one would. Stores that sell electronics or furniture usually sell some of their display products as-is, typically at a discounted price.
Often, buying a product ”as-is” means that the consumer will not be able to return it or get a refund after purchase. It is important that buyers know the terms and conditions of returning and ensuring the reliability of their products before completing the transaction.
Implied Warranty of Habitability
The implied warranty of habitability protects a tenant’s right to a habitable living space, even if the lease contract does not include the landlord’s responsibility to make repairs. This warrant conditions the tenant’s requirement to pay rent on the landlord’s requirement to provide a livable space for the tenant.
Implied Warranty of Fitness
The last type of implied warranty is the implied warranty of fitness. This applies when a merchant expressly advertises their product for a specific use. For example, if the consumer purchased earphones labelled as “waterproof,” then it would be expected that the earphones would still work after getting wet. If the earphones stopped working after getting wet, then they would be protected under the implied warranty of fitness.
When Does an Implied Warranty Apply?
Implied warranty applies to almost every product sold in the United States, and each state has its own specific laws regulating implied warranties. However, extended warranties are often available for purchase for products of high value, such as electronic devices, cars, and more.
The FTC recommends consumers take steps to prevent a breach of implied warranty. To do so, consumers can read the product descriptions carefully to make sure they are buying what they want, as well as read the warranty fully before making the purchase. They can also keep a printed copy of the warranty in case they need it in the future.
Secondly, consumers can consider what kind of company they are purchasing from. If they don’t recognize the company selling the product as immediately reputable, they can refer to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to look up any complaints filed against the company.
Next, consumers can keep their receipts in case the product is faulty and needs to be returned. The receipt should be kept with the printed warranty to make sure consumers are able to return any faulty products received.
Additionally, consumers need to care for and maintain their product as instructed, including any necessary inspections or maintenance. This way, the consumer can avoid blame for the faulty state of the product. Similarly, consumers are encouraged to read the manual for the product to be sure they are using it correctly. Using it the wrong way can void the warranty.
Breach of Implied Warranty
In the case of receiving a faulty product, the consumer has many options as their rights are protected by law. Resolving the issue can be a matter of returning the faulty product for a working one or a refund, but it can also get more complicated. The FTC provides more tips for consumers who experience a breach of warranty.
Once consumers have read and understood the warranty for their product, they can take steps to resolve the issue. Though some companies may give a refund, others may try to fix the faulty product before offering a refund. However, consumers are entitled to a working product and the company should provide assistance in fixing their faulty product.
If the customer is unable to resolve the matter with the retailer, then they can contact the manufacturer. This can be done by mailing a consumer complaint letter to the manufacturer by certified mail, keeping a copy of the letter, and asking for a return receipt.
If the matter is still unsolved, the consumer can use their lawful protection. In the case that the matter of the faulty product cannot be resolved by the retailer or manufacturer, the FTC recommends the following these steps::
- Contact your local or state consumer protection office for help
- Search for dispute resolution programs to informally settle the disagreement
- Consider small claims court if the product was high in value
Consider a lawsuit under the advice of a lawyer
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Georgette Siqueiros is a writer from Boise, ID with a background in journalism. When she's not travelling outside Idaho, she loves rock climbing, hot springs, camping, and exploring the world around her.
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published January 30, 2019.