Know Your Rights: Warranties

Posted on: October 19, 2022

A major purchase may come with a warranty. The warranty may come from the seller or the manufacturer. A “warranty” is a promise to stand behind the thing sold to you. The law says that you must be allowed to read what the warranty says before you buy.  The warranty law covers purchases in person, online, or with a catalog.  Warranties might cover a lot or a little. Look into the details before you buy. You may be given the option to buy an extended warranty. An extended warranty would cover some repairs after the regular warranty expires. Buying an extended warranty is up to you.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tells people to look out for these things when it comes to warranties:

  • What’s the reputation of the company offering the warranty?

Look up the company’s name on the Internet.
Try using words like “complaint” or “review.”
See what other people think of the company or product.

  • How long does the warranty last? 

It depends. The warranty period could be days, months, or years.
Read over the fine print on the warranty to find out how long the warranty lasts.

  • Which parts and repairs are covered by the warranty? What things are not covered? 

If specific parts or repairs that are not listed in the warranty, you should assume they aren’t covered.

  • Will there be extra costs?

Some warranties make you pay for labor or to ship the product back for repairs.
This could be expensive for heavy items.
Again, read the warranty.

  • Are there limits to the warranty coverage?

Do you need to send in a product registration card to get warranty service?
Some limited warranties require that.
Other warranties only cover problems that happen when you maintain or use the product according to the directions.
Many warranties won’t cover problems that happen if you misuse a product or change the way it works.
Federal law states that a manufacturer can’t make you use specific parts and services to keep warranty coverage, unless the warranty provides those parts and services for free, or if the company offering the warranty gets permission from the FTC to make that requirement.

  • How do you get warranty service? 

You may have to contact the manufacturer for help or the seller.

  • What will the company do if the product fails?

The company could repair it, replace it, or refund the money you paid for it.

  • Does the warranty cover "consequential damages?" 

“Consequential damages” are damages the product causes.
Few warranties cover them, or the time and money you spend to repair such damage.

All the things listed above should be in the warranty document. Read the warranty before you buy. Keep a copy of both the warranty and your receipt of the purchase. If the purchase was online, remember to print a copy of the receipt. If any warranty is stated to you verbally by the seller, get it in writing.

Are there other types of warranties that you get when you buy something?

Almost everything you buy is covered by an implied warranty. This is so even if there is no written warranty. All states have implied warranties. Here are some common implied warranties:

  • "warranty of merchantability."

Merchantability means that the seller promises that a product will do what it’s supposed to do.
For example, a car will run and a toaster will toast.

  • A "warranty of fitness for a particular purpose."

This warranty covers what happens when you buy a thing because the seller said it is fit for a particular use.
For example, a seller says a certain sleeping bag is good for zero-degree weather.
That means the seller is giving an implied warranty to buyers that the sleeping bag will is fit for use in zero-degree weather.

In Louisiana, the main implied warranty is called “redhibition.” Redhibition covers problems that come up with the product that make the thing so useless or inconvenient that you would not have purchased it or would have purchased it for a lower price. Even if your purchase doesn’t come with a written warranty, it’s still covered by implied warranties. Big exception: the implied warranty protects you unless the seller gives a written notice that there’s no warranty, or the product is marked "as is".

What about extended warranties?

An extended warranty or a service contract is different from the initial warranty that may automatically come with a product. An extended warranty will cost extra. It may cover different issues than a warranty. It is sold separately. Before you buy an extended warranty or service contract, compare it to the warranty to see if you’ll get any extra benefits for the extra cost. You do not have to buy extended warranties.

What can I do if I have issues with a new product?

  • Try to work out the problem with the place where you purchased it.
  • If you can’t resolve the problem with the seller, write to the manufacturer.
  • Your warranty should list the address of the company that provides the warranty.
  • You may want to send your letter by certified mail and request a return receipt, so you’ll have proof that the company got your letter and signed for it.

Having a warranty doesn't mean you’ll automatically get a refund if a product is defective. The company may have a right to try to fix it before it gives you a refund. But if you report a defect to the company during the warranty period and the product isn’t fixed properly, the company must correct the problem, even if your warranty expires before the product is fixed. 

What can I do if I still have issues?

If your letter or emails don’t resolve the issue, report problems with a company to the Federal Trade Commission at

You can contact the local Better Business Bureau in your area to see if they can resolve your issues.  In the Greater New Orleans area, their number is 504-581-6222.

Finally, you can speak to an attorney.

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