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When buying a gift for a friend or family member, you worry about how much to spend or whether the recipient will like it. But what consumers don’t have to worry about is the product’s warranty.

A warranty is a two-part pledge. First, it promises that the merchandise sold is as represented. Second, it promises that you will receive repairs, a replacement, or a refund if it is not the quality or condition represented. Remember: a seller does not have to use formal words such as “warranty” or “guaranty” for a warranty to exist, and under state law it is an unfair or deceptive act or practice to fail to honor a warranty.

There are two types of warranties: express and implied.

Express Warranty:

Sellers create an express warranty when they make a promise, show a sample or model, or describe goods to you. The written warranties provided by some manufacturers are express warranties. Express warranties can be oral or written, but you should try to get all promises in writing for your protection.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability:

Under the implied warranty of merchantability, the merchandise must do what it was designed to do with reasonable safety, efficiency and ease, and for at least a reasonable period of time. For example, a toaster must toast, a TV set must have a picture and a clothes dryer should not overheat and catch fire when properly operated. Every item sold by a merchant in Massachusetts automatically comes with the implied warranty of merchantability. Keep in mind however, that there is no warranty of merchantability if the seller is not a merchant or if the seller is a merchant but does not ordinarily sell goods of that kind. For example, a computer purchased from a restaurant that does not usually sell computers will not have this implied warranty.

Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose:

If you ask a salesperson to recommend a sleeping bag for camping in sub-zero temperatures, then the recommended bag should keep you warm. If it does not, then the merchandise is not fit for its particular purpose, and the seller had failed to follow this implied warranty. The implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose arises when all three of the following conditions are met: 1) the seller has reason to know your particular purpose for buying a product; 2) you rely on the seller’s skill or judgment in selecting or providing a product to meet that purpose; 3) the seller has reason to know that you are relying on his/her skill and judgment.

This post is part of our “Holiday Shopping” series, bringing you timely information as you shop this holiday season.  For more information on your shopping rights, click here.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s  Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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