Monday, February 23, 2009

What Did You Agree To? Warranty

Welcome Back.

In this next What Did You Agree To? series, we will be looking at Warranties. There are two type of contracts that warranties will apply to. The first is for goods, and the second is for services. This is a very important distinction. Many consumer protection laws, are based on this distinction.

Buy something in a store is usually a good. Hiring the neighbors kid to cut your lawn is a service. If something is custom made, often it is sold as a service, and not a good. So if you hired someone to make you a painting, although you have a tangible item (the painting) it is still a service. A wedding photographer provides a service, not a good.

In the Unites States, there as a federal law, which has been incorporated into all states in some way, called the Uniform Commercial Code. It specifically applies to the sale of goods. In Canada (Provinces), Australia (States)the UK and ROI (Republic of Ireland), each have some form of Sale of Goods Act.

The purpose of these laws is to provide a general framework for what a consumer can rely on from a merchant when they purchase goods. A store owner cant sell something in a manner that is misleading, broken, etc. But what about Services?

Because services are so variable., it is impossible to have a standard rule. Think of all the different type of services you can get and how different they are. The WARRANTY is the guarantee the service will perform as expected. You need to make sure you are specific in your warranty. Very often a service company will have a warranty provision in the contract. You MUST read this carefully

Now what did you agree to? Lets look at the Google Terms and Conditions. Google provides services. Searching, GMail, Maps etc. So what do they say about the warranty of their services?

Check Section 14. It basically says two things (which is a common approach).

1. There is no warranty on anything they or their companies or partners provide.

2. There may be a warranty BUT Only if a law in your jurisdiction prohibits the no warranty Google are claiming.

This is a very standard approach. A company will say;

"We are not responsible for anything at all, under any circumstances at all. Well except if the law forces us to be responsible."

I know I said that there is no single rule for warranties on services, however there maybe rules or laws for the industry of the service (such as getting your car fixed), going to the doctor, accountant etc. They can not under law say they are not responsible for any thing they provide that later breaks.

What does this mean to you? Read, Understand, Negotiate, Ask.

READ AND UNDERSTAND: When you are entering into a contract for either goods or services, look at the warranty. Be very careful when you see words like


Those are express waivers of warranty.

NEGOTIATE: Sometimes you are in a position to negotiate. If you don't like the language, or think something is not right, then negotiate. Ask for a more express warranty. Be very precise. The warranty must be clear in its writing. Avoid subjective phrases.

ASK: Talk to a lawyer. Ask what the impact of this warranty will have. This is the perfect type of question that can be answered online. You can use the link at the bottom here or, the window in the top right.

So that is a basic Warranty issue. Have a read through other agreements you are in, and you will be surprised how many times companies try to avoid responsibility.

If you do have legal question, and need to speak to a lawyer, click HERE. Lawyers are online, and can answer your question within minutes for as little as $15.

The next article we will look at ASSIGNMENTS.

Until Then.

Copyright © 2009 Peter MacSweeney.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author is forbidden. Contact the author through the comment form for all inquiries, including media.

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