Breach of Warranty
When you purchase a product or service, you expect it to perform in a satisfactory manner and to last for a reasonable amount of time. In many cases, a product or service will include a written warranty that promises the purchaser that, should the product or service fail to meet certain standards of performance or durability within a stated period of time, the manufacturer will provide complimentary repair or replacement of the product, or complete compensation. By a warranty, the buyer is guaranteed and assured the quality of goods sold and delivered. The Uniform Commercial Code sets the standards for all consumer sale transactions and warranties. In cases where a consumer has received a faulty product or service and the merchant refuses to comply with the guidelines listed in the warranty, the merchant has “breached” that warranty and the consumer may be able to pursue legal compensation.
The law recognizes two basic kinds of warranties — implied warranties and express warranties.
Express warranties are promises and statements that the manufacturer voluntarily makes about their product or about their commitment to remedy the defects and malfunctions. Express warranties can take a variety of forms, ranging from advertising claims to formal certificates. An express warranty can be made either orally or in writing. While oral warranties are important, only written warranties on consumer products are covered by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Implied warranties are unspoken, unwritten promises, created by state law. There are two types of implied warranties that occur in consumer product transactions: the implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.
IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY
An implied warranty of merchantability is an unwritten and unspoken guarantee to the buyer that goods purchased conform to ordinary standards of care and that they are of the same average grade, quality, and value as similar goods sold under similar circumstances. In other words, merchantable goods are goods fit for the ordinary purposes for which they are to be used. The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), adopted by most states, provides that courts may imply a Warranty of merchantability when (1) the seller is the merchant of such goods, and (2) the buyer uses the goods for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are sold. Thus, a buyer can sue a seller for breaching the implied warranty by selling goods unfit for their ordinary purpose.The policy behind the implied warranty of merchantability is basic: sellers are generally better suited than buyers to determine whether a product will perform properly. Holding the seller liable for a product that is not fit for its ordinary purpose shifts the costs of nonperformance from the buyer to the seller. This motivates the seller to ensure the product’s proper performance before placing it on the market. The seller is better able to absorb the costs of a product’s nonperformance, usually by spreading the risk to consumers in the form of increased prices. The policy behind limiting the implied warranty of merchantability to the goods’ ordinary use is also straightforward: a seller may not have sufficient expertise or control over a product to ensure that it will perform properly when used for nonstandard purposes.
IMPLIED WARRANTY OF FITNESS
Implied warranty of fitness does not contain a requirement that the seller be a merchant with respect to the goods sold. It merely requires that the seller possess knowledge and expertise on which the buyer may rely. Before a court will imply a warranty of fitness, three requirements must be met: (1) The seller must have reason to know of the buyer’s particular purpose fort the goods. (2) The seller must have reason to know of the buyer’s reliance on the seller’s skill and knowledge in furnishing the appropriate goods. (3) The buyer must, in fact, rely on the seller’s skill and knowledge. Even when these requirements are met, courts will not imply a warranty of fitness under certain circumstances. A buyer who specifies a particular brand of goods is not entitled to an implied warranty of fitness. Also, a buyer who has greater expertise than the seller regarding the goods generally is precluded from asserting an implied warranty of fitness, as is a buyer who provides the seller with specifications, such as a blueprint or design plan, detailing the types of material to be used in the goods.
BREACHES OF WARRANTY
Breaches of implied warranties can occur when a purchaser discovers that the goods purchased are not what was purported to have been sold (warranty of merchantability) or when a purchased item fails to meet or perform any of the advertised capabilities (warranty of fitness for a particular purpose). A merchant may also attempt avoiding liability through manipulation of “primary” and “extended” warranties. A primary warranty, or “basic” warranty, often comes with the purchase of a product. Most basic warranties allow the return of a product if it proves to be broken or missing pieces before it was even taken out of the package, or if it proves to be dysfunctional within a stated period of time after purchase (such as 90 days), which may also be due to faulty manufacturing. Extended warranties are offered by some merchants at an additional cost and “extend” the warranty further than the period of the basic warranty (such as one year instead of 90 days). A merchant may try to avoid liability in a warranty dispute by stating that the extended warranty has expired, even if the breach is one of the primary warranty. When this happens, the case could even be considered an “unfair and deceptive business practice” and therefore a form of fraud, so be sure to find out how you can fight your case. To learn all that you can about breaches of warranty and how you can fight them, contact Naziri Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.