By Chesley Payne
We’ve all signed those enormous agreements when we’re downloading software or buying an item at a store. Often you see language in all caps and in bold type stating something such as:
NO OTHER WARRANTY TO CUSTOMER FROM SELLER IS EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. SELLER SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE FOREGOING WARRANTIES … ARE GIVEN IN LIEU OF ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN FACT OR BY LAW, OR ARISING BY REASON OF CUSTOM OR USAGE IN THE TRADE OR BY COURSE OF DEALING, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, ANY WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
But, what does this mean? The Uniform Commercial Code is a set of laws adopted by all 50 states that provides uniform laws for transactions like buying and selling goods, how financial instruments (i.e., checks) are processed, and how a lien can be placed on items of personal property. The laws are intended to provide uniform regulations for a variety of transactions that everyone will deal with at some point in their lives.
One section of the UCC concerns the existence of certain implied warranties that are given by a seller of a good upon the sale of the good to a purchaser. An “implied warranty of merchantability” is a warranty given that the item sold is fit for the ordinary purpose for which it is sold. In other words, if you buy a lawnmower, you should expect that lawnmower to be able to cut grass. The “implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose” is an implied warranty that if a seller knows of a buyer’s special purpose in buying the good that the good will be able to be used for that special purpose. If you sell a buyer a pool skimmer and the buyer informs you of a unique situation regarding his pool, the seller warrants that the pool skimmer will work for his unique situation.
These warranties are usually disclaimed so as to allow the seller to replace them with their own limited warranty that will usually provide less protection than the implied warranties and reduce the seller’s liability for the item sold. The law allows the seller to do this in the seller’s purchase agreement. However, if the implied warranties are disclaimed, this must be done in a clear and conspicuous way. This is the reason the words are in all caps and in bold. This isn’t generally cause for concern for most purchasers.
It’s important to know why this has been done and what your rights are if the good or item is defective. If you have any questions, contact an attorney of your choice to discuss your particular situation.