KNOW THE LAW Kristin K. Haberman Attorney
WHAT DO THOSE PRODUCT WARRANTIES ACTUALLY MEAN? A BUYER’S GUIDE TO WARRANTY LAW
he vast majority of major purchases made in the United States come with a manufacturer’s written warranty. Written warranties are not required by law, but manufacturers include written warranties in order to induce the consumer to purchase their product. Many written warranties assure the consumer that the product is free from defects in materials and workmanship existing at the time of manufacture and that the product will actually work for a limited amount of time.Article 2 of a law known as the Uniform Commercial Code governs the sale and purchase of goods. The purpose of the UCC is to provide uniform treatment of common business and consumer transactions across the United States. Forty-nine states have adopted Article 2 of the UCC, with the exception being Louisiana. Written warranties are known as Express Warranties under the UCC. Express warranties include any representation made about the performance of a product, including verbal claims, advertising, a written description of the goods or
samples of a product. The Uniform Commercial Code goes a step further and gives the purchaser of products two additional warranties, known as Implied Warranties. It includes the Warranty of Merchantability and the Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose.Merchantability requires that the goods being sold are correctly described, that they are of average quality, and that they are fit for the purpose for which those goods are commonly used. For example, a box picturing a coffee maker must actually contain the coffee maker and must be able to produce coffee. The product must fail to work as it’s normally and ordinarily used for this warranty to be breached. The Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose applies when the seller knows, or has reason to know, that the product being sold will be used for a specific purpose, and the buyer is relying on seller’s skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods. For example, if a salesperson knew that the buyer was shopping for a coffee maker for buyer’s popular coffee shop, the sale of a 12-cup consumer coffee
maker would be a breach of this warranty, even though the coffee maker itself was merchantable. The states vary in the extent to which they allow Implied Warranties to be disclaimed by the manufacturer or seller. In Minnesota, the exclusion must be conspicuous or noticeable by the buyer. The language must contain the term, merchantability, to disclaim the merchantability warranty and must be in writing to modify the fitness warranty. Expressions such as, with all faults, and as is, can exclude the implied warranties. The Uniform Commercial Code is largely responsible for the ease of selling and buying goods across state lines by providing a common and uniform law to govern such transactions. It places responsibility on the sellers to warrant the goods they sell. Buyers should pay attention to express warranties, both verbal and written, and attempts by manufacturers and sellers to limit implied warranties. Kristin K. Haberman is an attorney with Einhaus, Mattison, Carver and Haberman in Owatonna.
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Published on Sep 27, 2017