A warranty is an undertaking given to a purchaser by a seller that a product is reliable and free from defects. The seller further undertakes that he will, without charge, repair or replace defective parts or replace the entire product if the product turns out to be defective within a given period. Certain specified conditions may have to be met before the warranty is enforceable.
Warranties on vehicles are dependent on the Expressed Warranty given to the consumer. Ministry Paper (19) set out by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Technology stipulates that the warranty period of a used vehicle should be 90 days (3 months) or 5500 km, depending on which occurs first. Warranties on new cars, however, are for at least a year, but may be more, depending on the dealer.
Under the Act, the manufacturer’s warranty supercedes. Section 37 (4) of the Act states that where a representation on an article offered for sale is made by a person outside of Jamaica, the representation shall be deemed to be made by the person who imported the article. Therefore if a manufacturer makes a representation in the warranty on an article, it becomes the importer’s duty to honour the manufacturer’s warranty.
Under the Sale of Goods Act a merchant must provide a refund, or a replacement when it is clear that the item cannot be repaired. However, the number of times allowed for repairs before the item should be replaced is determined on a case by case basis. It may be possible that the merchant might have missed the real problem in attempting to repair the item on previous attempts, but shows proof that he will be able to make the necessary repairs to the satisfaction of the customer, if a further opportunity to do so is allowed. Whether or not the merchant would be allowed to make that attempt is based on the facts of each case.
A refund policy should include the following information:
- Length of time within which a claim for refund must be made;
- Whether refund will be in cash or credit notes;
- Whether a claim must be accompanied by a receipt or any other proof of purchase;
- Whether any amounts will be deducted and why.
The Law relating to the Sale of Goods stipulates that all goods which are offered for sale must be of a merchantable quality. This means that the quality must be of an acceptable standard. If the consumer purchases goods that fail to meet this standard, he is entitled, in certain circumstances, to reject the goods and demand full refund. A merchant’s refund policy must therefore be established in accordance with the said Law, and any Policy which states “No Refund” without more, is by its very nature, in breach of the Sale of Goods Act.
The Act does not specify the form that a refund should take. As such, the answer to all the questions above is determined solely by the refund policy of the merchant at the store from which the item was bought. The decision on what is deemed suitable for returns as well as the type of refund to be given (for example. cash or credit note) is not specified by the Act. Each individual merchant will have his own policy, which might or might not be similar to another merchant’s policy and it is this policy which is applicable to purchases, returns and refunds. In accordance to Section 37(1), however, the merchant must make this information known to consumers. A merchants refund policy should therefore be placed prominently in the store, where consumers are able to access the information before making his purchase.
For their own protection, consumers should ensure they get a receipt. It is the best and safest way by which a consumer can provide proof of purchase, as well as date of purchase. Goods that can be bought in stores are not usually exclusive to any particular store. Identical items can be found in a number of stores. The consumer will therefore need to prove that a particular item was bought in a particular store. Further, some refund policies stipulate the amount of time within which the merchants are willing to take products back. They will need to ascertain relevant information from a receipt. It is important to have tangible proof, rather than to have a battle about whether or not you did make your purchase from a particular store on a particular date.