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Warranties Can Protect Floridians Who Buy Defective Products

Most Floridians have numerous items in and around their homes that have warranties. Actually, just about every new product has one, although not all are in writing. A warranty is basically a guarantee the seller provides that it is responsible if the product does not work or hold up as advertised and that they will repair or replace it at no charge.

To help protect consumers, the government requires warranties to meet certain criteria, whether written or not. However, there are specific requirements over what information written warranties must include, and they must be understandable (in other words, not filled with legalese).

Another requirement of warranties is that they must state what would invalidate them. Common conditions that would invalidate a warranty are if the product was misused or if the warranty was expired. Sometimes, merchants will exempt a particular part or type of defect from the warranty. Another common reason a warranty might be invalid is that it's expired. Often when we buy an expensive product like a computer, we're offered the option to buy an extended warranty that would carry it beyond this expiration date.

We've all seen products with "lifetime" warranties. What constitutes a "lifetime" can vary. Usually, it means for as long as the product is available for sale or a few additional years after it is discontinued. Sometimes, it means for as long as the original owner has it. If a product comes with a "limited" lifetime warranty, the limits should be detailed.

State laws may interpret the terms of a warranty differently. They also have different laws around "implied" warranties. These basically mean that the product will perform the function intended. In Florida, merchants can avoid that requirement by marking a product "sold as is" or something similar.

That's why if you choose to take legal action over a breach of warranty, it's essential to have a product liability attorney who knows Florida laws involving warranties. Even if a merchant requires consumers to participate in mediation or arbitration before filing a civil lawsuit, they may benefit from seeking legal guidance to help you understand their rights.

Source: FindLaw, "Consumer Warranty Basics" accessed Mar. 18, 2015

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