Warranties (Retail)

April 08, 2014

Before you make a major purchase, read the product's warranty. See exactly what protection the warranty gives you. 

Warranties are included in the price of the product. Service contracts come separately from the product, at an extra cost.

Written warranties are not required by law.

You are always covered by the Sale of Goods Act, which now says goods sold in B.C. must be of durable quality for a reasonable time. If the retailer will not honour the legislation, you can go to small claims court. 

Before you make a major purchase, there is an important promise you should read. It is called the warranty -- the manufacturer's or seller's promise to stand behind a product. Warranties vary in the amount of coverage they provide. So, just as you compare the style, price, and other characteristics of products before you buy, you also can compare their warranties.


Written warranties come with most major purchases, although this is not legally required. The protection offered by written warranties varies greatly, so it is important to compare warranties before making a purchase. Here are some questions to keep in mind when comparing warranties.

Question: What parts and repair problems are covered by the warranty?
Answer: Check to see if any parts of the product or types of repair problems are excluded from coverage.

Question: Are any expenses excluded from coverage?
Answer: Some warranties require you to pay for labour charges.

Question: How long does the warranty last?
Answer: Check the warranty to see when it expires.

Question: Does the warranty cover 'consequential damages'?
Answer: Many warranties do not cover consequential damages. This means that the company will not pay for any damage the product caused, or your time and expense in getting the damage repaired. For example, if your freezer breaks and the food spoils, the company will not pay for the food you lost.

Question: Are there any conditions or limitations to the warranty?
Answer: Some warranties only provide coverage if you maintain or use the product as directed. For example, a warranty may cover only personal uses, as opposed to business uses, of the product. Make sure the warranty will meet your needs.

Question: Who do you contact to obtain warranty service?
Answer: It may be the seller or the manufacturer who provides you with service.

Question: What will you have to do to get repairs?
Answer: Look for conditions that could prove expensive, such as a requirement that you ship a heavy object to a factory for service.

Question: What will the company do if the product fails?
Answer: Find out if the company will repair it, replace it, or return your money. 


Sometimes a salesperson will make an oral promise, for example, that the seller will provide free repairs. However, if this claim is not in writing, you may not be able to get the promised service. Have the salesperson put the promise in writing.


When you buy a car, home, or major appliance you may be offered a service contract. Although often called 'extended warranties', service contracts are not warranties. Warranties are included in the price of the product. Service contracts come separately from the product, at an extra cost. To decide whether you need a service contract, you should consider several factors: whether the warranty already covers the repairs that you would get under the service contract, whether the product is likely to need repairs and their potential costs, how long the service contract is in effect and the reputation of the company offering the service.


To minimize the chance of a problem with your warranty, take these precautions:

1) Consider the reputation of the company offering the warranty. If you are not familiar with the company, ask the Better Business Bureau if they have received any complaints against the company. A warranty is only as good as the company that offers it.

2) Before you buy, read the warranty. See exactly what protection the warranty gives you.

3) Save the sales slip and file it with your warranty. You may need it later to document the date of your purchase or, in the case of a warranty limited to the first purchaser, that you were the original buyer.

4) Perform any maintenance or inspections required by the warranty.

5) Use the product according to the manufacturer's instructions. Abuse or misuse of the product may cancel your warranty coverage.