By: Brett Shainfeld
Most people are familiar with the lemon law as it pertains to cars. Buy a vehicle that repeatedly breaks down during the warranty period, and, after a number of failed repair attempts, the manufacturer has to replace it or offer to buy it back. Roughly 176,000 people in the United States purchase vehicles that are considered lemons each year, but these people aren’t the only ones to benefit from state and federal lemon laws.
Did you know the lemon law covers much more than just cars?
Lemon Law for Appliances
In addition to each state’s lemon law for vehicles, there is also a law in the United States that is a type of federal lemon law. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 was created to protect consumers of all states and ensure manufacturers honor their warranties. The Act covers most consumer products, including vehicles, and is sometimes considered to be a lemon law for appliances (though is covers much more than that) because states have their own, separate lemon laws for vehicles.
The Act deals in both express and implied warranties. Express warranties are specific promises made regarding repair and/or replacement that are usually put in writing (such as in the documentation that comes with many expensive purchases). On the other hand, implied warranties don’t have to be in writing — they simply pertain to the manufacturer’s responsibility to meet certain standards of quality that make a product fit for its intended purpose.
With both types of warranties, the manufacturer is responsible for correcting any defects in the products (within a certain time frame) or for replacing the product if it can’t be fixed. So as a consumer, you have protection for much more than just major purchases like a new car.
So, exactly what does the lemon law cover?
What Does the Lemon Law Pertain To
Though the lemon law is most closely associated with vehicles that have defective parts and are constantly breaking down, its application is much more broad than that. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, most consumer purchases are actually entitled to protection under the lemon law. Anything that’s bought for personal use counts, with the exception of clothing and consumable items, like your weekly groceries.
Just a few of the things the Act covers:
- electric toothbrushes
- kitchen appliances
- digital cameras
- personal computers
- cell phones
- musical instruments
- electronic equipment live TVs and stereo systems
- hearing aids
- insulin pumps
- and more
As a general rule, the only real requirements to be considered is that the item must have been purchased for personal or family use, come with a warranty, and be subject to multiple repairs for the same issues.
While expensive and complicated items may be more likely to have something go wrong, the item doesn’t have to be expensive in order to be covered. Anything that cost over $10 can be considered, as long as you’re able to prove the item has a defect that you’ve tried to repair multiple times with no luck.
The Act especially provides coverage for items that come with a written warranty — like most appliances and expensive purchases do — but you may still be covered for some items under an implied warranty (as discussed above). What the lemon law covers, and how coverage works, will be determined by your individual state’s laws.
Protection Under the Lemon Law
The Act works in much the same way as state lemon laws for vehicles, in that it provides protection to consumers who have purchased a faulty product. However, there are a few exceptions to what the law will cover. If you bought something that did not come with a warranty and was sold “as-is” or “with all faults,” then you aren’t entitled to free-of-charge repairs or a refund. However, if you were misled into waiving a warranty when you purchased the item, and can reasonably prove so, you may still be entitled to coverage.
Under the lemon law, you must meet certain criteria before a manufacturer is required to give you a refund or repurchase the product. First, the item must be defective in a way that severely limits its safety, use or value, or must be out of use for more than 30 days while repairs are made. Second, you must have made multiple attempts to repair the item with no luck. Then, if the item is still not functioning as intended, you are entitled to have the manufacturer either replace or refund the item.
The manufacturer is entitled to an opportunity to repair the product, but if they can’t, they must do one of the following:
- Repurchase the item
- Replace the item
- Refund its value, minus the item’s use before the defects occurred
- Offer you a cash settlement
If the manufacturer doesn’t cooperate during this process, and refuses to repair, refund, or replace the item, you as a consumer are entitled to pursue legal action. Should you win your case, the manufacturer would have to submit to one of the above solutions, plus cover any attorney fees you may have incurred during the process.
Get the Lemon Law Help You Need
Now that you have a better understanding of the lemon law for appliances and other household purchases, you’re better equipped to request a repair, repurchase, or refund from a manufacturer. And if they refuse to cooperate, you can seek legal counsel to assist you with your case.
Should you feel legal action is necessary, your lemon lawyer will evaluate your case and help you determine if you do, in fact, have a lemon item that would be covered under your state’s lemon law or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. And if you have a case, they’ll work with you to get the settlement you deserve.
If you have questions, or want to pursue a lemon law case against a manufacturer, Shainfeld Law can help. Contact us today about your case, and we’ll see to it that you get the settlement you deserve.