Question from A, Can John Recover for Breach of Warranty on a Computer?
Answer from AI:
When purchasing goods, such as a computer, consumers are often protected by certain warranties, which can be either express or implied. A warranty is essentially a guarantee about the condition, functionality, or performance of a product.
Types of Warranties
- Express Warranty: This is an explicit guarantee provided by the seller or manufacturer about the quality or performance of the product.
- Implied Warranty of Merchantability: This is an unwritten, automatic guarantee that the product will work as expected for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used.
- Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: This warranty applies when a seller knows the specific purpose for which the buyer is purchasing the product and the buyer relies on the seller’s expertise to select suitable goods.
John’s Potential Breach of Warranty Claim
John may have a claim for breach of warranty if he can demonstrate that the computer does not meet the terms of an express or implied warranty.
- Express Warranty: If Charlie, the computer dealer, made specific statements to John that the computer would be suitable for his needs (such as generating CAD drawings and chemical formulas), and these statements influenced John’s decision to purchase, there may be a breach of express warranty.
- Implied Warranty of Merchantability: If the computer is not capable of performing the ordinary tasks one would expect from a computer, John might claim a breach of this warranty. However, since the computer is described as fine for most tasks, this claim might not be strong.
- Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: This seems to be the most applicable warranty in John’s case. He made his particular needs known to Charlie, and if he relied on Charlie’s expertise to choose a computer that would meet those needs, there may be a breach of this implied warranty if the computer fails to perform those functions.
The elements of a claim for breach of warranty generally include:
- The existence of a warranty.
- The breach of that warranty (the product did not meet the warranty’s terms).
- That the breach caused the purchaser harm (the product was not fit for its intended use).
Effect of the Disclaimer on the Invoice
The disclaimer on the sales invoice stating “There are no warranties that extend beyond the product description on the computer packaging” could significantly affect John’s rights. This type of language is often used to disclaim implied warranties. However, the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which governs sales of goods in the United States, requires that disclaimers of implied warranties be presented in a clear and conspicuous manner. The fact that the disclaimer was in red bold ink may satisfy this requirement.
If the disclaimer is deemed valid and enforceable, it may prevent John from successfully claiming a breach of an implied warranty. However, the enforceability of such disclaimers can vary by state, and there are also federal laws, such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, that provide consumers with certain protections against unfair warranty practices.
Seeking Legal Advice
John should consider consulting with a legal professional who can provide personalized advice based on the specifics of his situation, including the jurisdiction’s interpretation of the UCC and relevant consumer protection laws. A lawyer can help determine the validity of the warranty disclaimer and whether John has a viable claim for breach of warranty.
For more information on warranties and consumer rights, John can refer to the Federal Trade Commission’s guide on federal warranty law and the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in his state.