• Vincent Maranda

“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” - Clint Eastwood


Q: My 4-year-old TV screen blacked out. The standard warranty is one year. I bought an extended warranty for two more years. I hear there is a legal warranty that also applies – is this true?

A: There are three kinds of warranties: a) compulsory legal warranty b) dealer or manufacturer warranty c) extended warranty. The free legal warranty legally overrides, and is in addition to, the other two warranties. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) states:

S. 37 Goods forming the object of a contract must be fit for the purposes for which goods of that kind are ordinarily used.

S. 38 Goods forming the object of a contract must be durable in normal use for a reasonable length of time, having regard to their price, the terms of the contract and the conditions of their use.

S. 228.1 Before proposing to a consumer to purchase a contract that includes an additional warranty on goods, the merchant must inform the consumer orally and in writing...of the existence and nature of the warranty provided for in sections 37 and 38.

These sections deserve a celebratory whooping from all consumers. They apply to the majority of store purchases (for motor vehicles see elsewhere in the CPA).

Simply bring the TV back invoking the legal warranty because a reasonable TV lifetime is up to 10 years as established in case law. However, consider it’s normal that staff may not know that the CPA legal warranty cannot be excluded in Quebec, no matter what you signed or what the warranty in the box says.

The Office de Protection du Consommateur (OPC) will receive your complaint if you go there. I checked out complaints against Apple Corporation having had a $70 power cord on a three-month warranty break down in month five. The OPC advised that 263 complaints had been received by them against Apple in the past two years, 205 of them related to the quality of goods or service, but no details are given. The effectiveness of this deterrent is unknown since the OPC leaves it up to you to claim directly against the store.

The OPC site has a neat kit for claiming from stores with forms for demand letters, experts, etc. (i.e. TV repairman opining on the reasonable period of usage). Ask the store for what makes sense - replacement, repair, sale cancellation (i.e. lemons), reduction in price (since you have had usage for a few years) plus damages for warranted sleep loss.

If the store still refuses do not despair since, armed with the law and without having succumbed to store rage, there is a civilized manner in settling the issue in the very experienced small claims court. Pay the court fees and sue the store or the manufacturer.

Since you are now enrolling in the good guys’ army you must represent yourself. Lawyers, by law, cannot plead the case but may offer advice to you before and after. Be ready to wait for up to one year for the decision, not the lawyer.

Extended warranties with profit margins may be similar to cinema soft drinks - come easy and fast with usually no hassle. But how does this explain the Grand Canyon between the application of the law and store policies undaunted by well written legislation? The time and trouble to enforce the legal warranty doesn’t help.

Retailers have persuasive warranty deals competing with the law(s) few people read. Some head offices just disregard the laws while armed with lack of cooperation and improper training.

There are practical advantages in raising the white flag and surrendering to market laws that have so openly conquered the people's laws. You don’t go into TV rehab when you have an extended warranty. This is to be weighed against heroically fighting back for the greater good - ensuring the law applies and receiving compensation.

You can send in your questions to your editor@yourlocaljournal.ca

Vincent Maranda, lawyer, website: vmaranda.com

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