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The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law passed by Congress and signed by President Gerald Ford on 4 January 1975. Its full name is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act. The law was originally meant to cover written warranties for automobiles, but it also governs written warranties for household and other personal consumer products. In the years since 1975, most states have passed so-called lemon laws to supplement the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which did not address the issue of refunds to consumers who bought defective products.
Sen. Warren G. Magnuson and Rep. John E. Moss sponsored the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in Congress. Both men were members of the Democratic Party. Magnuson represented Washington state in the Senate from 1944 until 1981. Moss represented his California congressional district from 1953 to 1978.
According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, warranties written for consumer products must disclose their terms and conditions in common language. Written warranties may guarantee certain things, including the performance of a product or that defective products will be repaired or replaced by the manufacturer. Consumer product manufacturers and sellers are not required to offer written warranties. It does not apply to oral warranties, nor does it apply to warranties on services or on products sold for resale or for commercial purposes.
The goal of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was to guarantee consumers would get complete information about the terms and conditions of warranties written for the products they purchased. Other goals for the law included helping consumers make comparisons in order to buy products with the best combination of price, features, and warranty coverage to meet their individual needs. It was thought the law would promote competition on the basis of warranty coverage and help increase customer satisfaction because consumers would know what to do if something went wrong with the products they purchased. Congress also intended for the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to encourage companies to fulfill warranty agreements in a thorough and timely way that would minimize delays and expenses incurred by consumers.
In the Internet age, some consumers have criticized the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act on websites for not doing enough. Their complaints are typically centered on taking an automobile to a dealership for major repairs, only to be told warranties were voided by unauthorized work done to the vehicles. Typically, this involves owners who have changed the emissions systems on their automobiles.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and why was it created?
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law enacted in 1975 to protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices. It was created to ensure that manufacturers provide clear and detailed information about warranty coverage and to set forth guidelines on how warranties should be presented and honored. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the act requires warrantors of consumer products to provide consumers with detailed information about warranty coverage, making it easier for buyers to understand their rights and to compare warranty coverage before purchasing.
How does the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act affect consumers?
Consumers benefit from the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act as it enhances their rights and protections regarding product warranties. It ensures that warranties are easily understandable and accessible, prohibits deceptive warranty terms, and allows consumers to take legal action if warranty obligations are not met. The act also prevents manufacturers from requiring consumers to use only branded parts or services for maintenance, as stated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, unless the service is provided for free under the warranty.
Can a company deny warranty service if I use third-party parts or services?
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a company cannot deny warranty service solely because you used third-party parts or services, unless the company can prove that the third-party part or service caused the damage being claimed under warranty. This "tie-in sales" provision is designed to prevent manufacturers from creating monopolies on parts and services, as explained by the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers have the right to choose their own parts and service providers without voiding their warranty.
What types of products are covered by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act?
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act covers most consumer products, which are defined as tangible personal property that is normally used for personal, family, or household purposes. This includes a wide range of items such as appliances, vehicles, electronics, and more. However, it does not apply to services or to products sold for resale or for commercial purposes, as clarified by the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines on the act.
How can I enforce my rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act?
If you believe your rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act have been violated, you can enforce them by initially attempting to resolve the issue with the manufacturer or seller. If that fails, you can consider alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration. As a last resort, you can file a lawsuit, and if successful, you may be entitled to recover court costs and attorney's fees in addition to damages, as the act provides for fee-shifting to benefit consumers, according to the Federal Trade Commission.