If you own or operate a business selling merchandise to customers, you should be aware of both express and implied warranties associated with what you sell. For instance, if you sell new items that come from the manufacturer with a written, or express, warranty, that certainly will apply to any consumer purchase and must be honored.
However, anything sold also comes with two types of implied warranties, which are known by the legal standards of “implied warranty of merchantability” and “implied warranty of fitness.” Your business could be on the hook to replace or reimburse for any product that fails to meet any express or implied warranty.
It’s important to be proactive when it comes to your business. If you as a business owner in or around San Jose, California, find yourself in a dispute with a customer over an express or implied warranty, contact us at Leet Law. As skilled business and commercial litigation attorneys, we will review the situation with you and advise you of your best legal options going forward.
We proudly serve clients in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Oakland, and the rest of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. Set up a consultation today.
Warranty Law in the U.S. and California
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act applies to commerce in every state, and California also has laws on the book concerning warranties. Specifically, the California Civil Code Sections 1790 to 1795.8 govern “Consumer Warranty Protection.” The code outlines what is called the “implied warranty of merchantability” and the “implied warranty of fitness.” The merchantability warranty means, among other contingencies, that what is being sold is suitable “for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are sold.” The fitness warranty essentially means that what is being sold will fit the purpose for which the consumer is purchasing it. The code states that these warranties will last for at least 60 days or up to one year, coinciding with any express warranty.
An express warranty can be either written or oral. An express written warranty is just that—a printed document that comes with the product describing its warranty. For instance, if you buy a stereo system for your television, and the manufacturer offers a one-year replacement or service warranty, then would likely be an express written warranty.
An express oral warranty would be one that your retailer or seller presents when you purchase the product. The seller might say, for instance, “This stereo system will do everything you want and work for at least the next year.” The seller has thus offered a warranty through his or her own words.
A seller might also market something in an “as-is” mode, meaning what you see is what you get. The California Civil Code Section 17925 also addresses this, stating:
“Every sale of goods that are governed by the provisions of this chapter, on an "as is" or "with all faults" basis, made in compliance with the provisions of this chapter, shall constitute a waiver by the buyer of the implied warranty of merchantability and, where applicable, of the implied warranty of fitness.”
No matter the exact circumstances, it’s important to reach out to knowledgeable corporate counsel to help you and your business navigate these legal situations.
Can You as the Seller Be Sued?
Under implied or express warranties, you as the seller can certainly be held legally accountable, but the consumer who bought from you must first exhaust every effort to hold you to the warranties expressed or implied under California law. However, the plaintiff must be able to prove that a warranty was expressed or show that an implied warranty of merchantability or fitness applied. Depending on the cost of the product or merchandise in question, the lawsuit might likely take place in a small claims court.
In defense of a warranty claim, you as the seller can assert that the purchaser modified or misused the product, or that the claim is being made outside of the statute of limitations or the parameters of any express or implied warranty.
You’ve Worked Hard Enough—Let Us Handle the Rest
If your business is being sued for an alleged warranty violation in or around San Jose, California, contact us at Leet Law. We have been advocating for -- and defending -- Bay Area businesses for more than a decade, and we will handle any legal challenge facing you. Reach out immediately.