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Warranties and Promises

15 January, 2016 - 09:19

A warranty is a promise by the seller that an offering will perform as the seller said it would. The UCC makes a distinction between two types of warranties. The first is an expressed warranty, which is an oral or written statement by the seller regarding how the product should perform and the remedies available to the consumer in the event the offering fails.

An implied warranty is an obligation for the seller to provide an offering of at least average quality, beyond any written statements. For example, when you buy a new car, there is an implied warranty that it will run as promised after you drive it off the lot. You also have the right to expect average quality for any characteristic of a product that you buy online, except for those characteristics specifically described in the online material. If you were able to inspect the product before you bought it, such as looking at it in a store, the implied warranty only applies to those aspects you couldn’t inspect or observe in the store.

Where the law gets tricky is when it comes to other forms of writing. Marketing messages, whether written in a brochure or advertisement or stated by a salesperson, are considered implied warranties. Any written statement about what the offering does has to be true, or it violates the UCC’s definition of an implied warranty (and is therefore punishable by law).

Keep in mind that a salesperson can create an implied warranty in an e-mail or during an online chat session if he or she makes a promise. Even if the salesperson says something that contradicts a company’s written material elsewhere, the consumer has the right to believe what the salesperson says. As such, the salesperson promise is legally binding.