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What Are Express and Implied Warranties?

Most consumer purchases are covered by a warranty, even when a store doesn't advertise one. The two main types are express and implied warranties. 

An express warranty is clearly stated either verbally or in writing. An implied warranty automatically covers most consumer goods but only provides a base level of consumer protection.

Express and implied warranties must meet the minimum standards of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) or equivalent state laws. Some federal laws also set rules for warranties and repairs of consumer products.

Learn how these two distinct types of warranties can affect your consumer rights. You can also check how these warranties can become invalid and no longer protect your purchase.

What Are Express Warranties?

An express warranty is a stated guarantee that the product will meet a certain level of quality and reliability. If the product fails in this regard, the manufacturer will fix or replace the product for no additional charge.

Written Express Warranties

A traditional written warranty may appear in a sales contract or an online store policy.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that states written warranties must contain specific terms. The terms should include information like how long the coverage lasts and whether the warranty is full or limited. The business must show these terms before you buy the item and avoid hiding limitations in fine print or unclear disclaimers.

Verbal Warranties Are Valid

A verbal express warranty may be as simple as a car dealer telling a customer, "I guarantee that this engine will last another 100,000 miles." If the car fails to match this promise, the buyer may take it up with the seller.

A seller might demo a model of the product for you. What you see and hear during the demo can set your expectations for the actual item you buy.

Proving the existence of a verbal warranty is very difficult. There is often no record of the conversation to use as evidence. The seller might claim they never promised you anything.

Warranties on Advertisements and Packaging

Some warranties may be in writing but don't look like traditional contracts. Many such warranties appear on a product's packaging. Sellers might include them in descriptions of the goods online.

For example, a light bulb manufacturer prints the words "lasts 15,000 hours" on the box. It doesn't display "guaranteed" or "warranty," but this claim would still create an express warranty.

How Are Implied Warranties Different?

Unlike express warranties, implied warranties don't need a clear statement from the seller or manufacturer. Federal law, rather than specific guarantees, creates an implied warranty.

There are two common types of implied warranties: merchantability and fitness.

Merchantability: A Product Will Work as Created

Most consumer purchases come with an implied warranty of merchantability. This warranty means products will work on a fundamental level. The product must meet the general trade standards for such goods. It should also have the proper packaging and labeling. Even many used goods have this coverage.

For instance, customers expect any vacuum on the market to have functioning suction power. A vacuum cleaner that does not create enough suction to clean an average floor would be in breach of the implied warranty.

Fitness: A Product Will Fit Your Stated Needs

An implied warranty of fitness is a guarantee that a product will work for a particular purpose that differs from what the manufacturer intended to be its ordinary purpose. This warranty is not automatic. You and the seller establish this warranty when you rely on the seller's skill and professional opinion to direct you to the right product.

For example, you may tell a salesperson that you want new shoes for running. They then take you to a section with high-heeled shoes and show you a particular pair. This purchase would have an implied warranty of fitness.

Both Types May Suffer a Breach of Warranty

Whether a warranty is implied or express, it gives you specific rights. You can rely on the retailer or manufacturer for help with a faulty product. Businesses can violate either warranty type if they refuse to fix or refund the product.

A local consumer protection lawyer can help identify how warranty laws and terms may apply to your purchases. Consider seeking legal counsel if you believe a warrantor isn't fulfilling their promises.

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