Warranties and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act

Warranties and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act Most Texas consumers have had some experience with warranties. Products often come with operating manuals containing printed warranties.  Advertising may refer to a product warranty as part of the sales pitch.  Extended warranties may be offered for sale at the time of purchase or at the end of the original warranty period.  When consumers buy a product, they also simply expect it to work.

But what if the seller misrepresents a product or lies about a warranty, or the product does not work as advertised, or at all? Depending on the situation, a consumer may have a right to sue for damages under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) which prohibits “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices,” including those related to warranties.

What is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act?

The DTPA is a comprehensive consumer protection law preventing consumers from being misled by sellers when purchasing goods and services. The Office of the Attorney General may enforce the law to protect all Texans, but the DTPA also gives individual consumers (as well as business consumers with assets under $25 million) the right to sue for damages. Consumers who prove a seller knowingly deceived them may even collect three times their damages. To prevent sellers from taking advantage of consumers,  the DTPA protects Texans against numerous types of “false, misleading, and deceptive business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty.”

What kinds of warranties are recognized under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice Act?

Texas law recognizes both “express” and “implied warranties.” A warranty is a promise from the seller to the buyer that the buyer will get what was paid for.  A warranty may guarantee that the seller will stand behind the product in particular ways, such as in the repair and replacement of parts, or that the product is as represented and will perform as promised. The DTPA applies to both expressly written and verbally stated warranties, as well as implied warranties.

Express warranties refer to anything the seller states about the product which the buyer relies on to make the purchase. An express warranty does not have to be stated in writing: it may be printed or verbal, appear in a booklet or in advertising, spoken by the seller during the sale, shown through a model, appear in product labeling, or in other ways.  The courts may view some “sales talk” as “puffing” and opinion, rather than as a warranty. Saying a product is the “best ever” likely would be viewed as opinion, while specifically referring to a product’s capabilities and performance would constitute a warranty.

Implied warranties are essentially baked into the sale of a product; these warranties do not have to be written or otherwise stated or indicated. The seller does not have to mention an implied warranty because they are automatic by law.  Implied warranties include:

  • The implied warranty of merchantability, which warrants that the product is fit for the ordinary purpose for which it is sold, would pass without objection in the trade, and conforms to labeling.
  • The implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, which additionally warrants the product is suited for a particular purpose, if the seller knows the buyer needs the product for that particular use and is relying on the seller that it will work for the purpose.
  • The implied warranty of good and workmanlike services, which means that purchased services must be rendered competently and effectively by someone with necessary knowledge, training, or experience, in a proficient manner. If a consumer purchases a service, the service should not be performed in a shoddy manner.
  • The implied warranty of title, meaning that the product sold is not owned by anyone but the seller, and the buyer will be the rightful owner of the product upon purchase.

Additionally, the DTPA respectively states in sections 17. 46 (b) (15) and (20) that “basing a charge for the repair of any item in whole or in part on a guaranty or warranty instead of on the value of the actual repairs” and “representing that a guaranty or warranty confers or involves rights or remedies which it does not have or involve” are “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices.”

Other Texas laws also may include provisions that intersect with or impact the way deceptive practices related to warranties are viewed under the DTPA. For example, Texas has a Lemon Law “that helps consumers who buy or lease new motor vehicles and have repeated problems getting their vehicles properly repaired under the manufacturer’s original warranty” get their vehicles repurchased, replaced or repaired without going to court. The Texas Manufactured Housing Standards Act similarly provides for resolution of consumer complaints in the Manufactured Housing Rules.

If a seller has sold you goods or services in breach of an express or implied warranty or has otherwise deceived you about a good or service, you should consider consulting a San Antonio attorney. While you also may have grounds for a claim under another provision of Texas law, and might consider filing a complaint with the Texas Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission where applicable, DTPA claims may only be filed within two years.  Your consumer fraud attorney can provide advice and help in understanding the best way to proceed in a particular situation.

Texas has strong consumer protection laws. A San Antonio consumer dispute lawyer from Grable Grimshaw PLLC can help determine the best course of action, whether you were sold goods in breach of an express or implied warranty, or through misleading falsehoods or deception. Call 210-761-5687 or fill out our contact form today to set up a free, initial consultation with a member of our San Antonio legal team.