A warranty is a guarantee provided by the manufacturer of a product. It assures you the things you buy are of good quality and don’t contain manufacturing defects. Warranties give consumers the right to ask the manufacturer to deal with any issues according to their terms and conditions. The federal government requires companies to make a warranty easily accessible to prospective buyers and the product brochure must contain complete details of its warranty terms.

Conditional Service

Warranties must clearly state the manufacturer’s conditions. When you shop, compare warranties along with prices and product features. For example, you’ll want to find out whether to contact the company or the retailer for repairs if the product doesn’t perform as it should. You’ll need to know if the company replaces or repairs a defective item, or if you can return it and get your money back. Check out the length of time and the conditions under which the company has to assist you. Find out if you must ship the product back to the company or if you can get services at a local repair shop. Some warranties don’t guarantee the entire product, so determine which parts are covered and which aren't.

Legal Implications

There are two kinds of implied warranties. The warranty of merchantability states that your product is in working condition, while the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose assures that the product does its intended job. For example, if you bought a sleeping bag and the company claims that it keeps you warm in below-zero temperatures, the bag must be appropriate for those conditions. State laws setting implied warranties vary, so check the duration of the implied warranty your state requires. Examine the product label for the phrase “as is," which indicates the implied warranty doesn’t apply. Some states, such as Kansas, Maine and Maryland, don’t permit this clause.

Extended Protection

Vendors sometimes offer extended product warranties, service contracts that you pay for aside from the product's cost. In these contracts, the maker typically offers repairs in case your product breaks down. Before you buy this kind of contract, check to see whether it duplicates repairs already covered by the express warranty. Look for the validity period of the contract, usually a set number of years, and the possible cost for repairs. Make sure the company you’re dealing with is reputable. If the vendor makes an oral commitment about services, get it in writing before you proceed.

Taking Action

If you’re making installment payments on the product when it goes bad and the company refuses to act, you can stop making payments. However, you can do that only if you gave the company a chance to deal with the issue and if you haven’t misused the product. You can also refer the issue to a consumer protection authority or to the Better Business Bureau. You can sue the manufacturer in small-claims court if the disputed amount is below a specified level. or file a lawsuit through an attorney. Check your state laws for the number of years within which you can sue for damages.