When a manufacturer or seller makes a guarantee about its product, consumers buy with more confidence. Some products, however, do not perform as promised. When this occurs, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) is there to protect the consumer. The DTPA protects buyers against sellers who make “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce,” as well as “unconscionable actions and breaches of warranty.” The act also created procedures that help consumers obtain this protection.
What Is a Breach of Warranty?
Congress wanted consumers to be able to know what to expect from a product, to compare warranty details, and to experience the benefits of competition between vendors. The DTPA covers written and verbal warranties. A breach of warranty can include:
- A product that doesn’t perform in its expected fashion, for instance, a clock that doesn’t tell time accurately.
- A seller who says the product, for example, a work of art, is by a certain person but someone else really made it.
- Lying about the origin of goods or services.
- Misrepresenting whether a product is new or used.
Types of Warranties
Businesses don’t have to provide warranties, but if they do, they must comply with specific standards. Warranties fall into three basic categories:
- Express warranties. This is a promise an item will perform as guaranteed. For example, a seller might guarantee a recliner will be free of defects for one year and agree that if the buyer experiences structural defects, the seller will fix the chair or replace it.
- Implied warranty of merchantability. Most products have an implied warranty, which is basically an assumption. When consumers purchase coffee makers, they exchange money for them with the understanding that they will function as coffee makers should for a reasonable time. If they don’t, they expect to be able to return it for refund or exchange.
- Implied warranty of fitness. This warranty involves a situation where the buyer asked for a product that meets specific needs and the seller made a recommendation based on those needs, but the item didn’t meet them. For example, if a consumer asks for a set of containers that are dishwasher safe and the seller points them to one that melts the first time they’re run through the machine, they violate the implied warranty. The seller is responsible for replacing the merchandise or refunding the money.
The attorneys at Bennett, Weston, LaJone & Turner assist clients (both sellers and buyers) in DTPA cases; whether your business faces a baseless claim, or you are a consumer who has a claim against a business for a breach of warranty, you can contact us to speak with an experienced attorney today.