How Warranties Work: 4. Warranty Caveats (the “bewares”)

How Warranties Work: 4. Warranty Caveats (the “bewares”)

From the Latin phrase “caveat emptor,” meaning “Let the buyer beware,” specifically of hidden things, what we would call the fine print, caveats still exist with warranties.

Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware.

There is the already discussed issue of transfer of ownership. While understandable, it is something to consider if you are planning something down the road like selling a car, or the house, to one of your kids. Keep that in mind when you buy large ticket items, and when you buy anything used, or something from a friend. Most warranties don’t transfer.

Another thing to consider is the health and reputation of the company providing the guarantees. Not all companies stay in business for the 50 year lengths of some of their warranties. There are buyouts, mergers and just failures. Any of these may void a warranty. Buyouts and mergers shouldn’t, but sometimes they do, and apparently it’s legal. Being a big fan of integrity myself, I can say that one of the things that makes me proud to work for Floors To Your Home is its longevity. Floors To Your Home is basically our name as the internet business has become our focus. The parent company, called Irvin Kahn & Son, Inc. has been in the flooring business for over 100 years now, and remains in the hands of the same family. Also, being a flooring company selling mostly to homeowners, we have survived pretty well during the housing busts and the economic crises of the past few decades.

If there are strict and detailed maintenance guidelines for a product, you must pay attention to them and follow them closely. For the most part, companies cannot use a warranty to create what is often called “tie-in sales.” That's when they make you use their products to maintain their stuff, otherwise they'll void the warranty. It's a big no-no.

(Only available through catalogs distributed exclusively in Toon Town.)

You should never find any disclaimer like the following in a warranty: "In order to keep your A.C.M.E. Exploding Tennis Balls from detonating when not in use, you must store them in a genuine, A.C.M.E. Wonder Fridge, available only from Acme Rocket-Powered Products, Inc., a Wholly-Owned Subsidiary Of Roadrunner Corporation. Failure to do so voids the Unintended Explosions While In Stasis guarantee, and voids all warranties including those which guarantee detonation upon contact with birds.”

This is a tie-in – your product is only guaranteed if you buy another product (or service) from the same company. They may not do this. They may not rope you into an unwelcome arrangement forcing you to keep buying from them to maintain their warranties.

On the other hand, the warranty does not have to cover the cost of just any old maintenance situation. They don't have to guarantee repairs or parts that are inappropriate for the product. So the following could pass legal muster:

“While the necessary repairs and maintenance of your A.C.M.E. Anvil can be performed by any blacksmith or aerospace engineer, we recommend that you only use authorized A.C.M.E. professionals and genuine A.C.M.E. Anvil Replacement Parts. Any incorrectly performed repair or maintenance will void the warranty.”

The Warranty Killer

  Spelling also not guaranteed...Spelling also not guaranteed

Things may be sold “as is” in many states. No warranty is being offered, and the statement “as is,” which tells the customer that the product is definitely in less than the best condition, functions as enough of a disclaimer to void even the implied warranties in many states. If the buyer examines, or refuses to examine, a product about which they have been so warned, and then buys it, the implied warranties will not be in effect.


The implied warranty will be in effect if a court determines that it was unreasonable for the buyer to have understood that there were no warranties. The implied warranty would also be in force if the dealer is in the business of selling similar products. This would be in a place such as a used car lot, or a used dvd and video game store. Also, anyone selling a thing “as is” where the defect causes personal injury is still held liable for the damage, even without a warranty. 
Today, I'd take any of these deals, warranty or not! I'd take any of these deals, today, warranty or not

State by state differences

“As is” rules differ from state to state. For example, in Maryland the phrase “as is” does not register with the law. This means that the implied warranty of merchantability applies (except for cars that are both over 6 years old and have over 60’000 miles on the odometer). As of the publication of this blog post, the other states not recognizing “as is” sales were Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The differences matter, so unless you’re just buying an ice cream scoop at a garage sale, you should look into the laws before nabbing anything big or important.       


The full series:

pt.1: What is a Warranty

pt.2: Basic Types - Express & Implied Warranties

pt.3: Basic Types – Full, Extended and Limited Warranties

pt.4: Warranty Caveats (the “bewares”)

pt.5: Who is Responsible?

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David 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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