Law Library Articles
- Express warranties are explicitly offered to the consumer at the time of the sales transaction. These can be made in the form of advertising claims or formal warranty certificates. Express warranties are voluntary and can be made either orally or in writing. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act covers only written warranties.
- Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
- This federal law, administered by the Federal Trade Commission, requires that every written warranty on a consumer product be provided on a single, clear, easy to read document that contains certain specified information about its coverage. This provision applies to consumer products that cost $15 or more. The Act does not mandate that warranties must be provided, and only regulates a warranty if it is written.
- Pet products are considered consumer products because they are distributed in commerce and are used for “personal, family, or household purposes.”
- In the case of a consumer product which costs the consumer $10 or more, if a written warranty is provided, it must be designated as being a “full” or “limited” warranty. A warranty can be both “full” and “limited” if it fully covers only some parts of the product, or if the coverage is full for only part of the warranty period.
- As a warrantor, a manufacturer must ensure that warranties are available where the product is sold, so that consumers can read the warranty before purchasing the product. This provision applies to consumer products that cost $15 or more.
- The act prohibits anyone who offers a written warranty from disclaiming or modifying implied warranties. Therefore, if you provide a written warranty, even if it is limited, the manufacturer must provide the basic protection of the implied warranty of merchantability. However, if the manufacturer offers a limited warranty, it may limit the implied warranty of merchantability to the duration of the limited warranty. For example, if the limited warranty is limited to two years, the implied warranties can be limited to the same duration.
- The Act does not permit “tie-in sales” provisions. Therefore, a manufacturer cannot require a customer to purchase an item or service from a particular company to use with the warranted product to be able to receive a remedy under the warranty. An exception is if the manufacturer can demonstrate that the product will not work properly without a specified item or service.
- The Act prohibits warranties with deceptive or misleading terms. A manufacturer cannot offer a warranty that appears to provide coverage, but in fact does not.
- The Act does not apply to products sold for resale or for commercial purposes.
- The Act also provides a mechanism for consumers to pursue a remedy for breach of warranty in the courts, and sets up a framework for companies to set up procedures for resolving disputes without litigation
- The FTC has adopted three sets of regulations implementing the Act: The Rule on Disclosure of Written Consumer Product Warranty Terms and Conditions (the Disclosure Rule), the Rule on Pre-Sale Availability of Written Warranty Terms (the Pre-Sale Availability Rule) and the Rule on Informal Dispute Settlement Procedures (the Dispute Resolution Rule).
- Writing Warranties — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes a document entitled A Businessperson’s Guide to Federal Warranty Law
- Written Warranties— Written warranties should, at a minimum, include the following information:
- What the warranty does and does not cover.What is the period of coverage? The warranty must state when the coverage begins, if not the purchase date, and when the coverage ends, including if an event triggers termination.
- What corrective measures will be used to address problems? This will describe the remedy that the manufacturer offers, which could be repair, replacement, refund of purchase price, or credit toward a subsequent purchase. Sometimes it is necessary to explain what will not be done, such as covering consequential or incidental damages.
- How can the consumer get warranty service? The warranty must tell the consumers how and where they can obtain warranty service.
- How will state law affect the customer’s rights under the warranty? The FTC has adopted boilerplate language to address this question, rather than providing information about the requirements of each state. Every consumer product warranty should state: “This warranty gives you specific legal rights, and you may also have other rights which vary from state to state.”
Other specific information that should be included.
- If there are any obligations imposed on the consumer, such as notification requirements, this must be included in the warranty.
- Any limitations, conditions, or terms that must be met must be included in the warranty provisions.
5. Full Warranty— A full warranty means that the coverage will meet the federal minimum standards and will address at least five aspects of coverage. If the following terms are not included in a written warranty, the warranty is considered to be a “limited warranty”.
- The manufacturer does not limit the duration of implied warranties.
- The manufacturer provides warranty service to anyone that owns the product during the warranty period. It is not limited to the first purchaser.
- The manufacturer provides warranty service free of charge including any costs involved with returning the product or removing and reinstalling the product if necessary.
- The manufacturer provides, at the customer’s choice, a full refund or replacement if after a number of tries it is unable to repair the product.
- The manufacturer does not require consumers to perform a duty as a precondition for warranty repairs, except for notification, unless it can demonstrate the duty is reasonable.
- If any of the 5 statements above, under “full warranty” are not true the warranty must be labeled as a limited warranty.
- Generally a limited warranty offers less protection to the buyer. It will frequently cover parts, but not labor for the repair of the item.