A manufacturer's warranty is a written assurance to the purchaser of a product, promising to replace or repair it, if necessary, within a specified period. You should find out about the terms of this kind of warranty before you buy, particularly if the item you're buying is of significant cost to you. Questions you could ask include:
- How long is it good for?
- Where will I have to go to obtain warranty repairs?
- Do they cover parts and service, or just one or the other?
Often, manufacturer's warranties are not valid from one country to another. For instance, if you buy electronics during a visit to another country (or buy from a foreign retailer over the Internet), you may be buying a product with a manufacturer's warranty that doesn't protect you at home in Canada even if the same product is available for sale in Canada. The same is true when buying automobiles abroad, as we discuss in more detail below.
“As Is” Sales
Sometimes, a retailer will say a product is sold "as is" meaning that the retailer claims the consumer should not be able to expect any after-sales repairs or service for the product under any kind of warranty. They're saying you're buying the product at your own risk.
In fact, despite what some retailers might say about "as is" sales, there are implied warranties that apply to the sale of consumer goods, no matter what the retailer claims. Implied warranties are covered under provincial/territorial sales laws. The wording of such laws are somewhat different from one province/territory to the next; however generally, they state that products must be fit for the purposes for which they are sold. Keep in mind that the application of such warranties is subject to legal interpretation, and to enforce your rights under such warranties you might have to go to court. Therefore, think twice about any product being sold "as is", unless it's such a good buy that you're willing to take the risk that it doesn't work properly and that getting redress may be difficult or costly.
If you're wondering about specific warranty laws where you live, check with your provincial or territorial consumer protection agency.
Warranties are as Different as the Products
Warranties are not all the same. Read a warranty carefully to find out what is and isn't covered and make note of when the warranty expires.
- Vehicles: Many vehicle manufacturers refuse to honour warranties on vehicles that have been imported from the United States or other countries. And among manufacturers that do honour warranties, some still apply limitations to their warranty. Every manufacturer has a different policy. Before buying a foreign vehicle with a warranty and importing it to Canada, contact the manufacturer to get the latest information on warranty coverage.
- Home entertainment equipment: Warranties differ depending on the type of home entertainment equipment and the brand. Most warranties cover parts and service for manufacturing defects, but rarely cover accidents or misuse.
- Personal devices: Cell phones, smart phones, ebook readers, computers and other similar technologies are growing in popularity. They usually come with a warranty, but read the fine print to make sure you understand what is and is not covered before you buy. It is also your responsibility to save all information stored on your device before sending out for any warranty-approved repair. The information on your devices could be erased during the repair, so be sure to have a back-up of your files.
- Appliances: Refrigerators, stoves and ranges, washer and dryers and other household appliances have warranties that usually start the day of purchase or date of delivery. It doesn’t matter how often you use your appliance. The warranties usually cover workmanship or defects, but do not cover improper installation or misuse. You must also consider that most warranties will be void if you try and fix the problem yourself or have someone other than an authorized person try and repair your appliance.
Some retailers or dealers offer extended warranties on products or vehicles (also referred to as service agreements, service contracts or maintenance agreements). Here are some points you should consider before deciding to purchase an extended warranty.
- Extended warranties usually cost extra and are sometimes based on a percentage of the cost of the item.
- Check to see if the product you are purchasing comes with a manufacturer’s warranty (usually one year and included in the price of the product).
- You should also check with your credit card company to see if they offer additional warranties on products purchased via credit card. Some credit card companies offer an additional year of warranty if you pay for the item with your credit card. If your credit card is already covering you for an additional period of time, then the extended warranty may not be offering you any extra protection.
- A number of scams have been reported where consumers receive telephone calls offering extended warranties (for a price) on an automobile the consumer has purchased. Be careful about such offers, because a number of cases have been reported throughout Canada where the callers have simply taken the money and run.
Take a Minute Before Purchasing an Item
Before purchasing an item, either big or small, ask yourself these questions about the manufacturer’s or extended warranty:
- How expensive is the product? Would it be less expensive to replace the item rather than purchase an extended warranty? What would a typical repair cost be?
- Who administers the warranty? Does the store where you bought the item take care of the repairs or do you have to ship it somewhere at your own cost?
- If you are considering purchasing an extended warranty, does it overlap with the manufacturer’s warranty?
- How reliable is the item you purchased? Consumer services provided by Consumer Reports, Marketplace and Protégez-Vous (French only) are dedicated to providing concrete product information such as expert product reports, evaluations and test results. Please note that this information may be available for a nominal fee.
- What is covered under the warranty?
- Do certain actions void your warranty?
- Is there a deductable?
- What are your rights in terms of cancelling the warranty? In certain provinces and territories, consumers have the right to cancel at any time as long as they give 30 days notice.
You may be required to present certain documentation to make a claim against your warranty. Always be sure to keep all your warranty information in a safe place, along with your original sales receipts.