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Statutory Warranties

Consumers often believe that written warranties are all they get, and if there is no written warranty, there is no warranty at all. The law gives consumers certain warranties that sellers and manufacturers cannot limit or avoid.

Even where a store displays a sign that says "No Refunds", if there is a breach of any warranties given by consumer protection laws, the store must give you a refund. In fact, it can be an offence for the manufacturer or seller to try to exclude the statutory warranties.

These protections apply to consumer goods or services ordinarily used for personal, family or household purposes sold by a business that sells, leases or manufactures, goods or services.

These protections do not apply if the intent is to re-sell the product or the product will be used for business purposes.

Second-hand dealers can exclude or change any of the statutory warranties if they let the consumer know about these exclusions or changes before the purchase is made.

Statutory warranties

In Saskatchewan consumer goods or services come with the following warranties.

Good Title

A consumer gets a guarantee that a seller has a right to sell the goods and that the consumer will enjoy uninterrupted possession of them.

Freedom from Encumbrances

Consumer products are guaranteed free of any security interest or liens that are not made known to the consumer before the sale is made.

Fits Description

Goods being purchased must match their description. The contents of a package must match the description given on the outside of the package. Articles ordered from a catalogue or online must match the description in the catalogue or online. Always inspect mailed items right away and, when purchasing at a store, inspect the items there, if appropriate to do so.

Sample

When a consumer purchases goods after examining a sample...

  • The sample must match the rest of the product.
  • The consumer must be given the chance to compare the sample to the rest of the product.
  • The product must be of acceptable quality except for defects that are apparent when examining the sample.

REMEMBER

These warranties apply to all consumer sales in Saskatchewan, and cannot be excluded or limited in any way by the manufacturer or the seller. BUT... this legislation can protect only those consumers who are aware of it!

Any subsequent owner who purchases goods in a private sale or receives them as a gift is protected by the same statutory warranties as the original owner. However, subsequent owners cannot take advantage of the express warranties given by the manufacturer or the seller.

Acceptable Quality

Goods must be of acceptable quality except for...

  • Defects drawn to the consumer's attention before the contract of sale is made.
  • Defects that the consumer should have seen when they inspected the goods. (Only applies if the consumer inspected the goods before the sale.)

A packaged shirt that has sleeves of different lengths is not of acceptable quality, and you should be able to return it. But if the clerk told you the hem was coming undone, then you would have made a contract knowing about that defect, and could not return the shirt for that reason. Similarly, you would not be expected to notice a defect in the motor of a lawn mower but you would be expected to notice a blotch of paint on the surface.

If a defect appears later, you need to look at what caused the defect. If the consumer has misused the goods, the items may still be of acceptable quality. But, there may be a hidden defect that would have led a reasonable person to not purchase the goods at the regular price, if they had known of the defect. In that case, the goods are not of acceptable quality.

Second-hand Goods

The acceptable quality of second-hand goods is determined by the reasonable quality you would expect of goods of that description, age and price. Guarantees by second-hand dealers are best made in writing. Unlike retail sellers, second-hand dealers can exclude the statutory warranties in a contract if they bring this part of the contract to your attention and make it clear to you that this means you will not have the protection of the statutory warranties.

Sale Items

Sale items marked "SHOP SOILED", "SECONDS", or "SUBSTANDARD" cannot be expected to be high quality. However, a consumer can complain if such items are completely useless. What you can reasonably expect for quality will depend upon the store's description of the item and the price you paid for it.

If ordinary stock is offered at reduced prices, and not marked as "seconds" or defective, the consumer can expect the same quality as regularly priced goods. Remember, a sign that says "NO REFUNDS ON SALE ITEMS" cannot take away these basic warranties.

Fit for Purpose

Goods must be fit for their ordinary purpose. For example, a shirt is meant to be worn. If it has one sleeve sewn shut, it is not fit for its purpose. But a stove with dents in the oven door is still fit for its purpose, if it works otherwise.

If the goods have more than one purpose and the salesperson says it is fit for your particular purpose that is considered a warranty that it is fit for that purpose. However, it would not be a warranty that the goods are fit for your purpose if you did not rely on the seller’s skill or judgment or it would be unreasonable for you to rely on it.

Pat wants to buy paint for some wooden lawn furniture. In the store, Pat finds some "General Use" paint. The salesclerk tells Pat the paint is suitable for outdoor use. Pat can rely on that statement and if the paint turns out to be unsuitable for outdoor use, Pat can return it and expect to get a refund or compensation for her damages. But suppose Pat does not ask the clerk or the clerk does not know if the paint is suitable, and Pat buys it anyway. In this case if the paint turns out to be unsuitable for exterior use, there is not a breach of this warranty.

Durability

Products must be durable for a reasonable period of time. It is difficult to say exactly how long a particular product should last, but things to consider would be the nature of a product, its description, the price, and normal maintenance requirements. For example, it may not be unreasonable to expect appliances to have a service-free first year (the length of the manufacturer's guarantee may be a further clue).

If the goods are second-hand, expected durability also depends on their age and how they have been used.

Parts and Repair

Spare parts and repair facilities must be available for a reasonable time after the date of purchase.

User Injury

If someone is injured while properly using a consumer product, they can sue the manufacturer or seller for any personal injury that occurred as a result of the defective product. This applies even if the person injured is not the original purchaser or owner. For example, suppose a parent bought a lawn mower, and then a teenage child became injured when the mower blew up as a result of a manufacturer's defect in the motor. The teenage child can expect to be compensated for injuries resulting from the breach of warranty.

Remedies

If a statutory warranty is breached consumers are entitled to certain remedies. If the product is repairable, the consumer must give the seller reasonable time to repair it, at no cost to the consumer.

If the product or services are substantially different from what a consumer could reasonably expect given the things like the purchase price or description a consumer can choose to return the product for a refund instead of getting it repaired.

If a product cannot be repaired, the consumer can reject the item and get a refund (less the value of any use received from the goods). Remember, this applies even where there is a store policy of "No Refunds."

If the seller won't repair the product, the consumer can get someone else to repair it and sue for reimbursement from the seller, including damages for any expenses incurred as a result.

If a seller or manufacturer wilfully breaches a statutory warranty, a court may award extra damages to the consumer.

Warrantors (the manufacturers or sellers giving the warranty) are responsible for the costs of taking the product apart and putting it together again, unless the consumer agrees to pay those costs. The consumer is responsible for getting the product to the manufacturer or seller so that it can be repaired. However, if the size, weight or installation of the product means that the removal or transport would be a "significant cost" to the consumer, the seller or manufacturer must pay these costs.

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