“Money-back guarantee.” “Lifetime guarantee.” “Unlimited warranty.”
These are but a few of the slogans used by advertisers to entice the buyer to purchase goods or products.
Do such promises impress you? If so, be careful!
Lynne Gordon in The Consumer’s Handbook explains why:
Those words have such an aura of rock-ribbed security about them that few buyers really look into their meaning in a particular purchase, and only find out later, when they try to claim the benefits of a warranty, that there isn’t one, or that it doesn’t cover the necessary repairs or replacements.”
Knowing your guarantee before signing on the dotted line can later on save you anxiety, heartache, and money.
What Is a Warranty?
Although the word “guarantee” is popularly used, what is really spoken about is a warranty.
This, according to Webster’s Third New International Unabridged Dictionary, means:
Written guarantee of the integrity of a product and the good faith of the maker given to the purchaser and generally specifying that the maker will for a period of time be responsible for the repair or replacement of defective parts and will sometimes also provide periodic servicing.”
Warranties can protect you from concealed or sharp business practices and dishonest salesmen.
For example, when one car dealer represented a used car as being in first-class condition when it was in reality a wreck, the buyer took the dealer to court.
Because the buyer was protected by an implied warranty, the judge ordered the used-car dealer to refund the customer double the purchase price.
Know Your Warranty!
Warranties or guarantees may appear on a product’s tag or label or may be printed in material that accompanies the product.
The following are some terms commonly used:
An ORAL WARRANTY is much more difficult to enforce than a written one.
Thus, it is best to have all guarantees in writing even if the dealer is known to be honest.
A SELLER’S WARRANTY provides a promise on the part of the merchant to accept responsibility for the performance or quality of the product he sells.
These guarantees are generally implied or expressed warranties.
IMPLIED WARRANTIES are presumed to be included in all consumer contracts.
An implied warranty, says the book You and the Law,
ensures that the dealer has the right to sell the item, that the goods measure up in general terms to the description given, that they are in good condition and are basically suitable for the purpose stated.”
For example, a toaster should toast bread.
Because such promises are implied, the consumer may not know they exist.
A product sold “as is” has no implied warranty.
An EXPRESS WARRANTY provides specific promises regarding performance and quality of the goods.
It usually is put in writing.
Express warranties cannot nullify guarantees that are implied by law.
As explained in the book Consumer Rights and Responsibilities,
an express condition or warranty binds the manufacturer or the seller (whoever made the promise) to honor their promise/guarantee as well as, and not in place of, those promises already required by law.”
The MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY guarantees the general condition of the product and usually includes an agreement to repair any defects at the manufacturer’s expense during a certain period of time.
It is important to remember, as explained in You and the Law, that the “courts are reluctant to hold the manufacturer responsible under a written warranty for any defects or servicing not specifically and clearly covered in its wording.”
Remember, also, that most products have their best guarantee on their most durable parts.
The parts that are most likely to wear out are usually not covered.
Be sure of what is actually covered.
Some people view the UNCONDITIONAL GUARANTEE as providing the best protection of all.
This guarantee supposedly has “no strings attached.”
Other people, though, are convinced that all guarantees include certain conditions.
A guarantee can easily be misunderstood.
For example, a “lifetime guarantee” does not mean it will be valid for your lifetime.
Rather, it generally refers to the lifetime of the product as long as you own that particular product.
What about the term “satisfaction guaranteed”?
It is too vague to be considered a genuine guarantee.
Be sure to READ THE FINE PRINT before signing.
Often what seems to be guaranteed in bold print on the front of an agreement may be nullified or modified by the fine print on the back.
Yes, it pays to know your guarantee.