In my last consumer article, I talked about the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), what it is, and how it protects consumers. I promised a follow up regarding what activities are prohibited under the statute, and what remedies it provides. In this post I’ll discuss warranties.
There are several avenues for bringing a cause of action under the DTPA, one of the most common stems from the breach of an express warranty, or the breach of any implied warranty recognized by law.
Express warranties are what everyone thinks about when they think “warranty.” It’s where one side of a transaction “warrants” the quality, fitness, or character of the goods or services they’re selling. Think about that three year, 36,000 mile warranty you hear about when shopping for a car, that’s an express warranty.
On the other hand, implied warranties don’t have to be written down or expressly agreed to. These are warranties that the courts or the legislature have decided apply to certain transactions, or contracts for certain services. Some implied warranties are:
- The implied warranty of merchantability. It warrants that goods you buy from a merchant are fit to be used for their ordinary purpose, i.e. oranges are fit eat, clothes are fit to be worn, so on and so forth.
- The implied warranty of use for a specific purpose applies when a consumer makes it known to the other party that he needs the goods or services for a specific purpose, and then relies on that party’s representations that his product is suited for that purpose.
- The implied warranty of good and workmanlike services applies to what we all generally expect when we contract for services, that we expect the services should generally be performed in a professional manner, and not poorly.
It is important to know that the DTPA does not create any warranties, but is a vehicle for a consumer to bring an action for breach of any warranty that already exists.
What should you take away from all this warranty talk? If there is any advice I can give, it’s to give all your service and consumer contracts a once over before you buy just about anything. Now, I know that all of those contracts make for riveting reading, but what you should actually look for is language limiting warranties, and that’s because many warranties can be disclaimed. Go ahead and look at your phone contract, or that contract to buy a new washer and dryer. Chances are, some sort of implied warranty has been disclaimed, which might limit some of your options should the product go belly up.
Which is of course not the end of the road either. Have a good week, and keep up the good work.