How Warranties Work: 5. Who is Responsible?

How Warranties Work: 5. Who is Responsible?

I mentioned a scenario in the first warranty post where customer Oswald had two businesses fighting over who didn’t have to honor the warranty on his damaged floor. I've also written about a situation where a retailer might take over a warranty and extend it. To whom do you go, then, if your warranty has any complexity? Let’s say the manufacturer has given one, the company that sold it to you has extended it, and then you had it installed by professionals who made their own guarantees. Where do you go? Let’s look at these in some detail.


The manufacturer can only guarantee that the product will be free from defects at the time it is sold, and will function normally for a reasonable amount of time. Their express warranty will be set for a specified minimum time of their choosing. That's how it protects you, the buyer, but it also needs to protect the manufacturer from improper applications of the implied warranty for fitness for a particular use. Flooring Manufacturers
So not only will the flooring packaging not say “Good for use on outdoor pool floors,” it might actually bear a warning, “Not to be install on outdoor pool floors!” This seems silly, perhaps even a little insulting, but once you've been on the receiving end of a lawsuit from some bonehead for whom installing engineered hardwood flooring in the outdoor pool not only didn't seem silly, but seemed to have been implied to be possible, you'll go ahead and put it in writing. Expect to see some pretty obvious things listed as exclusions, like "Do not take X-Gel De-Oxy if you are allergic to X-Gel De-Oxy," and then let your mind wander regarding the stories which could have lead to them. (The most famous example I know of is “Cape will not enable the wearer to fly” put on some superhero Halloween costumes in the 1980’s.)


Often their warranties will be an extension of the manufacturer’s warrantied time. If that is the case, then if a defect is found during the manufacturer’s warranty time period, you would normally contact the manufacturer for resolution. If the defect is found afterwards, in the extended period offered by the retailer, then you would contact the retailer to solve your problem.

Floors To Your Home's Store

The other thing a retailer can do is just add their own warranty to the manufacturer’s, one with better options for you, closer to a full warranty. Usually this is an extended warranty as described in the previous piece, and usually it will at the very least replicate, and most often go beyond the coverages in the manufacturer’s warranty. In this case you would start with the retailer for resolutions, even if their coverage time period overlaps the manufacturer's. Example - You get the 'Anything Goes' super warranty from the store on a new laptop, and later you drop it. Even though Apple has warrantied the device, you just go back to the store and do the automatic swap you pre-paid for, because it's the better warranty of the two.  

Installers and/or Contractors

Remember that the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act only governs warranties on "tangible personal property." Not only does it not cover property like land ownership, it also does not cover warranties for services, and not all states have laws requiring contractors to provide guarantees of their work. An installer.

Absent direct consultation with a lawyer, the best way to get advice for the particulars of your state would be to check your state’s .gov site to read the warranty laws directly, or look at the site of a law firm in your state that offers free pages of advice and explanations. Many do, especially on topics like these.

The best thing you can do on your own is to include guarantees in your negotiations. Get them into the contract, so the state’s contract laws can enforce them. The installer can, and probably should, guarantee that she has installed the product properly, and that the flooring (in our case – why not start getting specific!) will be free from defects once installed. A good installer should know the products she installs, and should only install them according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Also, just as the retailer can create a warranty for a product he didn’t manufacture himself,

the installer may also do this. She can say that any flooring she installs will last for the following 10 years, if she wants to. Looking from the outside, this might seem kind of risky, guaranteeing the quality of something she didn’t make herself, but it’s certainly legal. The warranty doesn’t say, “I made this and I stand behind it,” it just says the “I stand behind it” part. Anyone can do that. You could do it at your garage sale if you wanted to. Not that I recommend it.

Where things get dicey is when you have purchased flooring, and then the installer installs it. What is normal in this situation is for the installer to inspect the flooring, either at the start, or as it is installed, for defects. The way things generally go between installers and manufacturers is that once the installer actually installs a piece which has a visible defect, they have accepted responsibility for it. The manufacturer will not replace floors with obvious, visible defects once they have been put into place. "Installation equals acceptance," so in this case you would go to the installer for replacement of the bad flooring. If the installer sets bad planks aside and does not install them, then you would go to the manufacturer for replacement of the bad planks.


Whether written or not, shippers are responsible to deliver material to you which is in good condition. Material damaged in transit? This is the responsibility of the shipping company. In our case, we will usually handle that for you, getting your replacement planks to you right away, and dealing with the shippers ourselves, but you have a big part to play in making sure that goes your way. Watch the following video if you're ordering flooring from us, or anything large and delivered by a truck. We have handled enough shipping issues that we think we've been able to collect the best advice for how you can receive your shipment in a way that makes any issues with damaged material very easy to take care of.

And that's it! That's what I found out. No more of this little series, unless something wacky happens with the laws.

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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