Implied Warranty of Merchantability

An implied warranty of merchantability is an “assumed” warranty that a product will work for the purpose for which it is intended. This implied warranty applies even when there is no printed or verbal warranty provided when the item is purchased. This type of warranty protects consumers from purchasing defective or misrepresented items.

For example, if Greg purchases a heater to place in his bedroom and, when he plugs it, he discovers it only blows cold air, he is protected by the implied warranty that the heater would be suitable for heating a room. The seller would be obligated to refund Greg’s money or to replace the heater with one that works properly. To explore this concept, consider the following implied warranty of merchantability definition.

Definition of Implied Warranty of Merchantability

Noun

  1. A warranty that is not expressly stated by the seller of merchandise or real property, but assumed that the property sold works for the purpose for which it is intended.

Origin

1930-1935

Implied Warranty

Implied warranties cover two issues: merchantability and fitness. An implied warranty of merchantability refers to the unspoken, assumed guarantee that a product or real property is suitable for use according to manufacturing standards. An implied warranty of fitness refers to situations in which a seller recommends a particular product for a consumer’s specific needs.

For example, Ronald enters a supply store and asks for a heater designed to heat a 15×15-ft storage room. The salesperson recommends a particular model, which Ronald buys, assuming the heater will be the right one for the job. If Ronald discovers that the heater is unable to fully heat his storage room, he would be entitled to exchange the heater for the correct model, or to obtain a refund of his purchase price under the implied warranty of fitness.

Definition of Merchantable

A product is merchantable if it is fit for the purpose for which is it manufactured. For example, dish soap is designed to clean, but does not carry a guarantee that it will get stains out. Article Two of the Uniform Commercial Code states that an item is considered merchantable if they meet the following standards:

  • It conforms to the standards of the trade
  • It is fit for the purpose in which it would ordinarily be used, even if it was purchased for another purpose
  • It is labeled according to the contract of the sale
  • It meets the specifications stated on the package label

Disclaimer of Implied Warranty

Some jurisdictions allow sellers to get around the implied warranty by explicitly disclaiming any such warranty by including such words as “as is,” or “with all faults,” in a written sales contract. Such a disclaimer may refer to different sizes or colors, or by disclaiming a specific use. Whether a disclaimer of warranty applies to a product sold varies according to the laws of each jurisdiction.

Products Sold “As-Is.”

Some sellers offer consumers used items sold on an “as-is” basis. Some states allow a seller to implicitly deny an implied warranty by clearly stating the item is sold “as is,” or “with all faults.” In some states, the “as is” condition is assumed in sales of used items from automobiles to appliances. Other states, however, do not allow sidestepping the implied warranty of merchantability with an “as is” sale. These states include:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Implied Warranty of Title

The term “warranty of title” refers to the assumption that the seller of any property or product has the legal right to sell it. This warranty is implied, in that it is not required to be placed in writing, allowing the buyer to assume the property is not stolen, or does not belong to someone else. This helps ensure consumers do not have to pay twice for an item – first when he purchases from the seller, and again to re-purchase if the item is confiscated by law enforcement.

Violating an Implied Warranty of Merchantability

When a buyer purchases a product and he believes that the seller has violated an implied warranty of merchantability, he should first contact the seller to attempt a resolution. If the seller refuses to exchange or refund the product, the buyer can file a civil lawsuit to recoup his loss or damages.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Civil Lawsuit – A lawsuit brought about in court when one person claims to have suffered a loss due to the actions of another person.
  • Contract – An agreement between two or more parties in which a promise is made to do or provide something in return for a valuable benefit.
  • Damages – A monetary award in compensation for a financial loss, loss of or damage to personal or real property, or an injury.
  • Jurisdiction A territory in which the court has the right, power, and authority to administer justice by hearing and resolving conflicts.
  • Real Property – Land property attached or fixed directly to the land, including buildings and structures.

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