What should I know about warranties?
Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
Warranty laws in Georgia
What should I know? +
When you buy something at a store-be it a pair of shoes or a phone-you expect that it will work. You also expect it to last for some period of time. What if it doesn't? What rights do you have as a buyer?
Warranties are a consumer's major safeguard of product quality. A warranty is the seller's legal promise or guarantee as to the quality of the goods. There are two kinds of warranties: implied (or statutory) and express (or contractual).
What are my rights to implied warranties?
When you buy a product, there are certain warranties that are implied by law. These warranties do not have to be spelled out by the seller, they are guaranteed by Georgia law. These implied warranties are:
That the product you get is what is described on the package or label. The product must be fair or average quality.
If the seller advertises a product for a particular purpose, you must be able to use it for that purpose.
The seller must own the property they are selling.
However, you can waive these implied warranties if you buy something that is sold “as is” or “in present condition.”
What are my rights to express warranties?
Express warranties are warranties that are written by the seller or manufacturer. These may come in a booklet with the product. Generally, they make some kind of promise about what the product is made of, how it performs, and what a manufacturer will do if the product does not perform well.
You have the right to see any written warranties before you buy a product that costs more than $15.
What can I do? +
- How can a seller create an express warranty?
- What can I do if a seller does not meet a warranty?
- What is an "as is" clause and what effect does it have on warranties?
In addition to warranties that are written and given to you by the seller or manufacturer, express warranties can be created in other ways:
- Making a specific promise or affirming a fact. Suppose a saleswoman says the store will make any necessary repairs on a computer free of charge for a year. She is creating an express warranty.
- A written description of the goods. If a mail order catalog describes a tent as waterproof, an express warranty is created.
- Showing a sample or model to the buyer. In doing so, the seller is promising that the item actually sold to the buyer will be like the model shown prior to the sale. Suppose a shop owner demonstrates a color television, and you buy an identical model. You should expect it to perform the same way. The owner has created an express warranty.
An express warranty may also take the form of a bill of sale that a buyer must sign. However, the bill of sale may limit or disclaim the seller's responsibility for defects in the product. It may ask the buyer to give up implied or even express warranties. Be sure to read all documents you are required to sign at the time of a purchase.
Warranties can be full or limited. A full warranty assures the buyer that the goods are totally free from defects at the time of the sale. It may include an obligation that the seller repair the goods within some time limit if they do not work properly. In the case of products that have more than one part, some parts may be under full warranty; other parts may be under limited warranty. A limited or partial warranty is, as the name implies, something less than a full warranty.
If you have a complaint:
Identify the problem. Shoddy or broken merchandise? False advertising? Worthless guarantee?
Decide what you want. Refund? Payment for damages? Repairs? Replacement?
Prepare your complaint. Photocopy records of your purchase. Keep original records yourself. Make notes of talks about the problem with the company representatives.
Present your complaint. First to the SALESPERSON who sold you the goods. If that person does not help you, go to the MANAGER. If the manager is uncooperative take the matter to the COMPANY PRESIDENT. If the problem is with a national company, write a letter or email. Include full information, such as what you bought (enclose copies of documents concerning the purchase), when and where you bought it, what the problem is, what you want done about it, and provide a time limit for action. Keep a copy of your letter.
Seek outside help. If you still get no satisfaction, explain your problem to a CONSUMER HELP agency. LEGAL ACTION should be your last recourse. A seller who violates the terms of a warranty or service contract can be sued by a purchaser with a claim of more than $25.
Sometimes a seller will offer an item “as is.” “As is” means that you are buying the item in whatever condition that it is currently in. You are accepting the item with any faults, even if you didn’t know about the problem. If that item breaks immediately after you buy it, you probably have no claim. There are some exceptions:
An item that is sold “as is” loses some, but not all, of its implied warranties. The implied warranty of title (that the seller owns the property they are selling) is not lost unless the seller specifically states that they make no claims about the ownership of the property.
An “as is” clause cannot destroy express warranties. Even if a product is sold “as is,” if the seller makes specific claims about the item, you can reject the item if it does not meet those claims.
An “as is” clause will not hold up if the seller concealed some defect through fraud.
Warranty: A warranty is the seller's legal promise or guarantee as to the quality of the goods.
As is: “As is” means that you are buying the item in whatever condition that it is currently in.
Implied warranty: a warranty that is implied by law.
Express warranty: a warranty that is written by the seller or manufacturer.
- Learn more about warranties on the Federal Trade Commission website.
This document is excerpted from An Introduction to Law in Georgia, Fourth Edition, published by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, 1998 (updated 2004). Revised and reviewed by Georgialegalaid.org, 2019.