While California’s Lemon Law is known for being one of the strongest of its kind in the U.S., there’s also a federal “lemon law.” It’s called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
The law, which dates back to the 1970s, requires companies that provide written warranties on their products to clearly describe the terms contained in the warranties and to disclose them in a way that is easy for consumers to find.
What is included in the law and accompanying rules?
In addition to passing the law, Congress tasked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with adopting rules to expand on the requirements of the law for warrantors and sellers of consumer products. The law and the added rules provide three primary requirements:
- A warranty must be designated as either limited or full
- The information that’s required in the warranty must be clear and in one easy-to-read document
- The warranty must be available wherever the product is sold
It’s important to note that the law doesn’t require manufacturers to have a written warranty for their consumer products. The law only applies when there is a written warranty. The law also doesn’t apply to commercial or resale products.
Certain things are prohibited under the law, such as deceptive or misleading terms. “Tie-in sales” are generally prohibited as well. For example, a person can’t be required to buy another product for the warranty on the first product to be valid.
Where can consumers settle a claim?
The law allows consumers who sue for breach of warranty to seek economic damages, expenses, court costs and attorney’s fees. Larger cases, such as class action suits, are often brought in federal court. Consumers can also bring their cases to state court.
The law, however, encourages warrantors to try to first settle cases through an informal dispute resolution process. If they put language about dispute resolution in the warranty, it has to comply with FTC standards.
If you’re considering whether to file a claim under the California Lemon Law or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, it’s best to seek experienced legal guidance to determine the best choice for your specific situation.