The Implied Warranty
Our situation with implied warranties is better than my wink and nudge remark in the previous post might have … uh, “implied”. An implied warranty is an unwritten, also unspoken, but automatic promise that the law assumes all sellers make to all buyers that the things sold will actually work properly. A floor, for instance, should not be ruined by being walked upon. Where express warranties are covered by federal law, implied warranties only exist under state law. This sounds like a mess in the making, and it would be if not for the Uniform Commercial Code.
The UCC* has been around since 1952. It is not a law, but rather a recommendation and a set of acts that states may use to consolidate and harmonize laws regarding sales transactions. The section on implied warranties has been adopted in the District of Columbia and 49 states (the exception being Louisianna, as of the date of this blog post). It comes from the common law principle of fair value for money spent.
Implied warranties can be divided into two kinds, one just a little more specific than the other. Here I'll go over the first.
The Implied Warranty of Merchantability“Merchantability”, really? What a cumbersome word, then again it is a law, or at least law-ish. It means sellability. It is the very basic promise that the product sold has nothing significantly wrong with it, but works, and will do what it is supposed to do. It can be described as “fit to be sold.” The product must... [caption id="attachment_2562" align="alignright" width="305" caption="Should not be warrantied as ''Flying Machines''."]
- …serve its ordinary purposes. This means that a box cutter should cut boxes, but need not work as well with wedding cakes or glass, nor should it be used for precision surgical procedures.
- …be of a typical quality. The box cutter will be good enough to cut many boxes, not just one. It will also be made out of metal, not cardboard or soap bubbles.
- …be within the normal variances of kind. This means that when you open the package, your box cutter will not be the size of fingernail clippers, nor of a Buick.
- …be adequately contained, packaged, and labeled. The box cutter will come in a container that protects you from the blade, and the blade from damage, as you take it home. Its packaging will communicate that it contains a box cutter, not that it contains a hatchet, a pen, sardines or plasma.
- …conform to any promises or affirmations of fact made on the container or label. If the packaging says that the box cutter will cut a variety of cardboard types, then it must do that. Promises of “turns lead into gold” should not be on the container, as most box cutters will not accomplish Alchemy for the average user.
An oven is supposed to safely heat food. A faucet is supposed to direct and dispense the water sent through it. A refrigerator is supposed to keep food cold. If the written warranty for a fridge says everything but “Will keep food cold,” it still has to keep the food cold. If it doesn’t, then the implied warranty has been breached, and the seller has to remedy the situation. That's what this one does for you.
But these promises are pretty general. A refrigerator is expected to keep food cold. What if you need something very specific, such as a special refrigerator designed to keep your steaks at 35 degrees with a constant humidity for 28 days?
See you next week!
* The best version I could find of the Uniform Commercial Code (and it’s a pretty good one) is here, if you want to study it further: http://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/ucc.table.html
The full series:
pt.1: What is a Warranty?
pt.2: Which Law Governs Warranties?
pt.3: The Express Warranty
pt.4: Implied Warranty #1
pt.5: Implied Warranty #2
pt.7: The Limited Warranty
pt.8: The Caveats (the “bewares”)
pt.9: Used and “ As Is” Sales
pt.10: Who is Responsible?
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David is has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with W. David Lichty
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