An underused law in Maine might prompt many consumers to skip buying the extended warranties store clerks are all too eager to sell.
Maine’s Uniform Commercial Code includes an implied warranty of merchantability. It states that any goods sold in Maine for personal or family use should, under normal use, work as intended for up to four years after purchase.
When a clerk asks if you want a one-year extended warranty, you might ask, “Why? Don’t you think your product will work longer than a year?”
The law conveys an implied warranty that goods sold in Maine are not seriously defective. It applies to all new or used goods sold by merchants (except used cars), and the warranty must be recognized by the store that sold it and the manufacturer.
A consumer who invokes the implied warranty law must prove the product was purchased in Maine. It must have been used in accordance with any directions and not abused, misused or improperly maintained. Normal wear is not covered by the law.
According to the state attorney general, Maine is one of just 10 states with an implied warranty law on the books. You can find a summary of Maine laws dealing with sales to consumers at the AG’s website, maine.gov/ag/consumer/purchasing_goods/index.shtml.
A consumer from eastern Maine wrote to us recently, saying he has used the law successfully on several occasions. Currently, a 2-year-old smartphone is acting up. At first, he was told repairs would cost up to $200. Later conversations with store personnel suggested that when he brings it in, he might be given a refurbished phone as a replacement.
Our consumer wondered how the swap would be covered by Maine’s implied warranty law.
Martha Currier, complaint examiner at the Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Information and Mediation Service, said the standard is the same: The law applies from the original purchase date.
When he receives the refurbished phone, Currier said the clock does not restart.
“If something happens to the refurbished phone within the next two years we can still mediate under the implied warranty,” she added. Consumers with problems can write to the Attorney General’s Consumer Information and Mediation Service, 6 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.
You may also call (626-8849 or 1-800-436-2131) from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays or email email@example.com.
During our conversation, our consumer related the story of his girlfriend’s mother, who purchased an extended warranty on a large, flat-screen TV. After he told her about Maine’s implied warranty law, she returned to the store, asked for and received a refund on the extended warranty.
Our consumer also said the Maine law has prompted him to rethink large electronics purchases. He said he refuses to shop for such items in New Hampshire, even though such a purchase might save considerable money in sales taxes.
“Buying within the state guarantees you that protection [of implied warranty], and that peace of mind is priceless,” he said.
Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewe, MEr 04412, visit http://necontact.wordpress.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.