Contracts are legally enforceable agreements between two or more parties. When the contract concerns the sale of goods, the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) governs the transaction. Under the UCC, there are various warranties available to buyers and sellers:
- Express warranties
- Implied warranties
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Express warranties are made directly from the seller to the buyer. Examples of express warranties include: advertisements, promises, samples, and models. The seller doesn’t have to make an explicit “guarantee,” he or she simply needs to make an affirmation as to the quality of the goods. Once presented, if the goods are not as advertised, the buyer has recourse against the seller.
It is important to note that sales talk is never considered an express warranty. Sales talk is the bragging that often occurs when a seller is trying to convince you to buy their product instead of someone else’s. For example, a seller might say, “I guarantee that everyone in your neighborhood is going to love this car.” This type of guarantee is not an express warranty that’s legally enforceable. It’s an exaggeration. If your neighbor hates your new car, you won’t have an actionable claim against the seller.
Implied warranties are implicit in the sale of a good. There are two general types of implied warranties: 1) the implied warranty of merchantability, and 2) the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.
The implied warranty of merchantability means that the goods sold will conform to ordinary and expected consumer standards:
- Properly packaged/labeled
- The goods reflect that which is represented on the label and in the contract
- The product will perform as it is expected
The implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose arises when the seller knows the particular purpose for which the good is going to be used, and the seller is relying on that particularized knowledge. The buyer’s reliance on the seller’s knowledge is key.
For example, if you bought an air conditioner because the seller promised that the unit could cool your entire home, but the air conditioner was only able to cool the downstairs area, then you would have a cause of action against the seller for the misrepresentation based on your particular need to cool the entire home.
A disclaimer is the seller’s ability to remove a warranty from the sale of their goods. While express warranties can’t be waived, implied warranties can be. A typical example of a disclaimer is an as is sale. Disclaimers can’t be hidden in the fine print – THEY MUST BE CONSPICUOUS – and are often written in all caps and bold.
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