Several readers raised an interesting point after last week’s column about Target’s not very warm response to a consumer’s attempt to get some acknowledgement that dishes fading after just a year (and shortly after the warranty ended) was a problem.
They correctly noted that Massachusetts has a special legal provision known as “implied warranty.” It’s something to keep in mind if there’s a large amount of money at stake or if you’re just up for making a stink.
The concept goes something like this: If you buy a product that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do for least as long as you would reasonably expect, you have a right to ask for compensation.
Edgar Dworsky, who runs the Somerville-based Consumerworld.org website, says the law can be helpful to consumers who use it as the basis to send a formal letter to stores or manufacturers demanding compensation for defective products. A formal demand letter requires a response within 30 days and can also apply to services not performed up to what was promised. A guide for what to include in a demand letter is posted on the state Consumer Affairs website.
If the company refuses your request for compensation, you would then have to decide whether to take your complaint to the next level, which could involve going to court. It’s probably not worth it over a set of dishes, but it could be for a pricey appliance – or to just make a point.
Dworsky, former director of consumer education at the state Executive Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, suggests you also consider how you paid for the product. Certain credit cards, American Express for one, will double the length of a warranty – giving you up to an additional one year of coverage. Many other cards, particularly the higher-level ones – gold, platinum, etc. – have the same extra coverage.
If you’ve ever succeeded in a battle with a company by citing the implied warranty provision of state law or have had success with a demand letter, please share your story. These tales are not widely known and it would be helpful to your fellow consumers to learn of such victories.
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About the author
Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com