Manufacturer Refuses to Honor Its Warranty

Dear Consumer Ed:  

I purchased a lawn tractor a few months ago, which is now having problems. I contacted the manufacturer, but it refuses to honor its warranty. What can I do?

Consumer Ed says:  

The first thing you want to do is re-read your warranty to find out exactly what is covered and who is offering the warranty. A manufacturer's warranty is a promise that the company stands behind the representations it has made about the product and that it will correct certain problems — often through repair, replacement or refund. Importantly, you’ll want to review the warranty for any disclaimers and determine if specific parts of the tractor or specific repairs aren’t listed, in which case the specific issue may not be covered under the warranty. Manufacturer warranties usually cover problems that arise from defective parts or product failure in terms of design, materials, and workmanship; the warranties usually do not cover wear and tear or defects caused by abuse or misuse.

That being said, a warrantor must adhere to the language of a warranty provided, and any disclaimers must be made clearly and conspicuously. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, a warranty must disclose, among other things, what the warrantor will do if the product has a defect, malfunction, or fails to comply with the warranty; the duration of the warranty; and any limitations on relief. The language must be written “clearly and conspicuously.” You can find more information about the FTC’s guidance on warranties at consumer.ftc.gov/articles/warranties.  

Below are some suggestions for handling a dispute with your warrantor:

  • Review your warranty and determine if the particular issue is still covered by the warranty. Make sure to keep all receipts and other paperwork associated with the purchase.
  • Look to the warranty for what your options are for informal dispute resolution. You will have to follow the procedures offered by the warrantor before pursuing a legal remedy.
  • Contact the retailer from whom you purchased the product to inquire about possible warranty resolutions.
  • Contact your credit card company to see about a potential chargeback.
  • If you believe the manufacturer failed to comply with the terms of the warranty, you can submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, the FTC, and/or consult with a private attorney about possibly suing for breach of warranty.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.

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