HOUSTON – Whether you pay for an extended warranty or the product you buy comes with one, you expect the company to make the repairs it promised when you need them. Many consumers are discovering businesses are making it nearly impossible to file claims for warranty work. KPRC 2 Investigates discovered that consumers do have rights when it comes to warranties.
What is an implied warranty?
Paying for extended warranties is usually not a good idea. Most products don’t break during the time covered by them. In Texas, almost all products are covered by an implied warranty according to the Texas Business and Commerce code. It means it is expected that the product you purchase will work for a reasonable amount of time unless the seller or manufacturer specifically claims otherwise. Extra and add-on warranties sometimes override that basic implied warranty setting time frames and language that often defies common sense.
When businesses don’t honor their own warranties
When Gwen Hill shopped around for new flooring last summer, she chose laminate hardwood from Lowes Allen & Roth brand. Aside from the style and color, the 30-year warranty advertised in-store on the box convinced her to go with the product.
Just nine months after the installation, Gwen started noticing cracks and chips in the flooring.
“They’re all over,” she explained. “It’s in like the middle of the the wood or on the chip of the wood, you know, on the edge. And so they’re kind of all over the place.”
In April, she called Lowes to find out how to file a claim. For the last 4 months, she has been bounced from her local store to Lowes corporate office, to the Allen & Roth customer service (a brand actually owned by Lowes) and then back to her Cypress store where she purchased the flooring. No one at any level could tell her how to file a claim under the warranty.
“I truly believe they just put it on a box for advertising purposes to go up against some of the better brands,” Gwen said.
Chris Mundy is facing the same dilemma with a white gold emerald ring she and her husband purchased for their 20th anniversary in December from JC Penny.
They paid $130 for the ring on sale and $40 for the unlimited lifetime jewelry protection plan.
When two of the emeralds fell out within a couple of months, she took it back to the store for repair.
After a few weeks, she says JC Penny told her they are unable to source the replacement stones. They would buy back the ring, but they said she wouldn’t get any refund on the protection plan.
“Don’t promise something that, within a few months, you’re not going to be able to deliver,” said an exasperated Mundy.
What can I do if a company won’t honor the warranty?
Here’s what to do if you find yourself in a situation of a company refusing to honor a warranty.
Send a letter to the manufacturer by certified mail requesting a return receipt so you know they received it. Your letter should demand the repairs promised in the warranty.
If that doesn’t work, report the companies to the Federal Trade Commission and the Texas Attorney General. You may have to sue the companies in small claims court to get them to honor their warranties.
We reached out to both Lowes and JC Penny about the issues Gwen and Chris are having. By airtime, both companies told us they are still looking into these issues.
Product warranties and your rights
- If any product claims it comes with a warranty, you are entitled to see the details of what the warranty covers and how to file a claim before you make the purchase.
- If you report a defect to the company during the warranty period and the product isn’t fixed property, the company must correct the problem even if your warranty expires before your product is fixed.
To read more about your rights and warranties, click here.