A warranty is a promise that a seller makes to a buyer about goods he/she is selling. Warranties typically promise that the seller will replace or repair parts of a product or offer a refund for a period of time after purchase. If a seller violates (“breaches”) the warranty, the buyer can refuse to accept a product on delivery or sue for damages.
Warranties may be express or implied. Express warranties include statements that the seller says or writes that become part of the contract for the sale of goods. Maryland law makes implied warranties a part of the contract of sale of goods even if the seller does not mention them, unless the contract excludes the warranties. (Note: There are limitations on the ability of a seller to exclude warranties in consumer actions - i.e., purchases made for household use.)
Express warranties include any statements of a seller, either verbal or in writing, that come with a product that promise to repair, replace or refund money for a fixed period of time. Some warranties may only cover part of a product or promise to repair different parts for a different length of time. For example, some car warranties give a longer warranty to the drive train than to other parts of the car. Consumers need to be careful to review the conditions of express warranties before agreeing to buy. Some small personal products (like candy, make-up, and detergents) have unconditional warranties written on the label that allow the buyer to return the product to the manufacturer for any reason for a refund.
Express warranties also include promises a seller makes about a product to a buyer if a promise becomes part of the reason why the buyer purchases the product. For example, if a seller says that a table is made of metal and the buyer agrees to buy the table because it is made of metal, there is an express warranty. Also, if the seller shows a buyer a sample or model of the product he/she is selling, there is an express warranty that the sample or model is like the product. Formal words such as “warrant” or “guarantee” are not required.
Read the Law: Maryland Code, Commercial Law Section 2-313
Implied warranties are promises given by the sellers even though they are never written or spoken.
Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Use
A warranty is implied when a buyer relies upon a seller’s skill and judgment and the seller knows it. If a buyer asks a seller for help selecting a product to do something in particular and the seller agrees to find the right product, the seller has promised to sell a product that will do what was promised.
Read the Law: Maryland Code, Commercial Law Section 2-315
Implied Warranty of Merchantability
Sellers who are in the business of selling certain products give buyers an implied warranty of merchantability when they sell those products. Sellers include manufacturers; distributors; dealers; wholesalers; and/or other middlemen or retailers. The implied warranty of merchantability promises that the product is fit for the ordinary use of such products. For example, a person who is in the business of selling chairs promises buyers that the chairs can be used to sit on without a problem. The implied warranty of merchantability also promises that the product inside the packaging for a product matches what is described on the outside of the box.
Read the Law: Maryland Code, Commercial Law Section 2-314
The implied warranty of merchantability can only be excluded from a sale between a professional merchant and a buyer under certain conditions. Used cars that have over 60,000 miles and are over six (6) years old do not have a warranty of merchantability if the seller gives the buyer proper notice. Sales of all other consumer goods, which include all goods for use primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, cannot exclude the warranty of merchantability. Sales of other products can exclude the warranty, but only if the seller uses clear language like “as is” so the buyer knows that the product may be damaged. Any exclusion or modification of the implied warranty of merchantability must be in writing, mention merchantability, and be conspicuous.
Implied Warranty of Title
When a seller sells a good he/she gives the implied warranty that he/she has the right to give the product to another person. In other words, the seller promises that he/she is selling rightful ownership of the product to the buyer. The implied warranty of title is a part of the sales contract unless the buyer knows or should know that the seller cannot give the buyer ownership of the product.
Read the Law: Maryland Code, Commercial Law Section 2-312
Extended warranties are any terms and conditions added to any express warranties. Extended warranties may not replace the original express warranty and are only offered as an addition to the original express warranty. They are sold for additional costs beyond the cost of the produce. Extended warranties are more like service contracts.
Read the Law: Maryland Code, Commercial Law Section 14-1311
These books can be found at many Circuit Court Libraries.
Charles B. Shafer, Maryland Consumer Law: Sales, Leases and Finance (2006) §§ 2.3-2.12
Office of the Attorney General, Maryland Consumer Handbook, Consumer Council of Maryland (1982) pp. 84-86