Implied Warranty

In the purchase of any item, there is an implied, or “assumed,” warranty that the product or real property is fit to be used for its particular purpose. Even when there is no written warranty accompanying the purchase of a thing, this implied warranty of purpose and merchantability exists. This means that, if a consumer buys a decorative lamp to provide light in his living room, then discovers when he gets it home that it only lights up about half the time, he is protected by an implied warranty that the lamp would be suitable for use to light up the room. The seller could not, in all conscience, say, “well, it’s still a pretty decorative piece, and there is no refund.” To explore this concept, consider the following implied warranty definition.

Definition of Implied Warranty

Noun

  1. A warranty that is not expressly stated, but presumed, that the real or personal property is fit for the purpose for which it is sold.

Origin

1930-1935

Implied Warranty of Fitness

This type of warranty provides a guarantee that the product suggested or recommended by a salesperson is suitable, or “fit,” for a particular use. This warranty typically comes into play when a buyer requests a product for a specific purpose, then purchases a product based on the seller’s specific recommendation.

For example, Jane asks a merchant for a blender that is specifically made for mixing cocktails, such as frozen margaritas. The salesperson recommends a particular model, which Jane purchases. When Jane attempts to use the blender, she finds it does not have the ability to crush ice. Jane may return the blender under the implied warranty of fitness.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability

An implied warranty of merchantability applies to nearly all purchases made by consumers, as it guarantees that the product will work for its intended purpose. For example, Rob buys a new reciprocating saw, but it when he plugs it in at home, it does not work. Rob has the right to return the saw and exchange it for a working one, or receive a refund.

When purchasing used items from a retailer, the warranty of merchantability implies that the item will work as intended given its specific condition at the time it is resold.

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

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.

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”

When a seller sells an item “as-is,” they can explicitly deny the implied warranty. This protects the seller from recourse if the item is defective. Not every state allows sellers to use this exception however, including:

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

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.

International Law

Most countries follow the regulations of implied warranty as supplied in article 35(2)(a) of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, which states that, regardless of the country of origin, a seller must provide products fit for their ordinary purpose. Each country however, many have specific laws detailing the warranty.

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.
  • Judgment – A formal decision made by a court in a lawsuit.
  • Jurisdiction A territory in which the court has the right, power, and authority to administer justice by hearing and resolve conflicts.
  • Real Property – Land property attached or fixed directly to the land, including buildings and structures.

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