Consumer Protection Act: Legal Warranty
More than just a legal term, the legal warranty is a lifeline for many Quebec consumers. When we make a large or small purchase, it’s comforting to know that a law exists to protect consumers against hidden defects and defective products. In this article, we delve into the heart of the legal warranty in Quebec, exploring its definition, specific features and the steps involved in claiming it. We’ll also explore credit card options that come with an extended warranty!
Whether you’re a consumer eager to understand your rights or simply curious better, this guide is for you.
What types of warranties are available for products and services?
When it comes to products and services, different types of warranties provide the consumer with protection against potential defects or problems. Here are the three most common types of warranty:
- Legal warranty: Protection imposed by law ensuring that the product/service conforms to its description and is free from hidden defects.
- Conventional (or manufacturer’s) warranty: Voluntarily offered by the seller or manufacturer, it explicitly covers repairs or replacements for a specified period.
- Additional (or extended) warranty: Optional warranty purchased separately, offering extended or extended coverage beyond the conventional warranty.
Definition: What is the legal warranty?
The legal warranty ensures that any product purchased or service contracted for is of suitable quality and can be used for the purpose for which it is usually intended. Our first reflex is to buy the manufacturer’s extended warranty. But is it a good idea? Knowing the legal warranty makes you realize this option is far from necessary! We will come back to this later.
The different types of protection
The legal warranty is the protection offered by the OPC (Office de la protection du consommateur) when the manufacturer’s or extended warranty has expired. More precisely, it’s a legal recourse that includes four criteria for the goods you buy:
- Conformity to the product’s description at purchase (advertising, packaging, representative statements, etc.)
- The product serves its intended purpose.
- Absence of hidden defect
A good example
Fourteen months ago, you treated yourself to the latest smartphone worth $1,350. Then, one fine morning, the device resting on your nightstand suddenly becomes unresponsive.
After contacting your phone company, they redirect you to the manufacturer. To your dismay, the basic warranty expired two months ago! You might think, “Should I have purchased the extended warranty?”
However, another solution awaits – and it won’t cost you a dime: The legal guarantee! You can claim its value given the price you paid and what the manufacturer represented about the product. Now, how do you enforce this legal guarantee? It’s not rocket science, but it’s essential to know how.
What is the legal warranty period?
The duration of the legal warranty is not explicitly defined by law. Unlike a conventional warranty (such as a manufacturer’s warranty), which has a specific duration, a legal contract lasts as long as expected for the type of product or service in question. The buyer will need to demonstrate that the purchased product didn’t meet the legal warranty even years after purchase. A hidden defect may be discovered later but may have been present at the time of purchase.
Is the legal warranty the same in Canada and Quebec?
No, the law is not the same between Quebec and the rest of Canada regarding the legal warranty. In Canada, each province and territory has its consumer protection legislation.
In Quebec, the legal warranty is defined by the Civil Code of Quebec (CCQ) and the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The CCQ stipulates that the property must be put to everyday use for a reasonable period. On the other hand, the LPC stipulates that the good must be durable about the price paid, the use and the remainder. It also offers protection against hidden defects.
Although the laws differ in the other Canadian provinces and territories, they all tend to offer some form of consumer protection. In Ontario, for example, the Consumer Protection Act applies.
Is it possible to sell without a legal warranty?
In Quebec, the seller cannot exclude the legal warranty. The legal warranty automatically covers all goods sold by a retailer.
However, in some circumstances, the seller can sell a product “as is, “meaning without warranty. This is often the case for second-hand goods. But even then, the product must still be fit for its intended use and shouldn’t have undisclosed defects known by the seller.
Suppose a seller tries to sell you a product without a legal warranty. In that case, it might be beneficial to consult with an attorney or the Consumer Protection Office to understand your rights.
Why sell without a legal warranty?
Depending on the item, a seller might specify there’s no legal warranty, although they must disclose known defects. Here are scenarios where this might not apply:
- Estate sale: When a property comes from an estate and the heirs have not lived in the house, they may not be aware of potential problems. Selling these properties without a legal warranty is standard practice to avoid liability for hidden defects.
- Bank foreclosure: When the bank repossesses a property due to non-payment of a mortgage, it usually sells the property without legal security, as it has no direct knowledge of the house’s condition.
- Non-resident sellers: If the seller never lived on the property (e.g., an investor), they might sell without a legal warranty to avoid future claims.
- Lower price: Sometimes, selling without a legal warranty can justify a lower selling price, attracting buyers willing to take the risk in exchange for a reduced price.
- Avoiding liability: By selling without a legal warranty, the seller minimizes his liability in the event of the discovery of hidden defects or faults after the sale.
- Properties with known issues: If the seller is aware of significant property issues and doesn’t wish to invest in repairs, they might opt for a sale without a legal warranty to evade potential later disputes.
Limits and exclusions to the legal warranty: specific features for different types of goods
Although the legal warranty offers robust protection, it is possible to come across exclusions or limits to these, whether complete or partial, which may affect the scope of your rights, hence the importance of fully understanding them before purchasing any goods, whether a house, an appliance or a vehicle. Knowing the nuances of each category is crucial to ensuring that your consumer rights are fully respected.
As a result, the legal warranty does not cover all problems. For example, normal wear and tear of a device or damage caused by misuse will mean the legal warranty cannot be considered.
Legal warranty: home, appliances, vehicles
Yes, in Quebec, the legal warranty applies to a wide variety of goods:
- Everyday consumer goods: household appliances, electronics, furniture, toys, clothing, etc.
- Vehicles: cars, motorcycles, boats, bicycles, etc.
- fixed assets: houses, apartments, land, etc.
- Repair or maintenance services.
This guarantee is automatic and does not always need to be mentioned, as is the case, for example, in a contract for the sale of a property, but it ensures that the property sold :
- It can be used for the purpose for which it was purchased.
- It has no hidden defects that could have affected its value or usefulness to such an extent that the buyer would not have purchased the item or paid the asking price had he been aware of it.
- Corresponds to the description in the sales contract.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, suppose the seller is not a real estate professional (i.e. an individual selling his property). In that case, he may be exempt from the warranty of quality in the event of hidden defects if he is unaware of these defects.
Note that this legal warranty differs from the new home warranty, a mandatory warranty offered by the builder of a new home.
Credit cards with extended warranty: yes!
The legal warranty is a right you can be proud of. Ultimately, this is one of the world’s most comprehensive consumer protection systems, making shopping even safer for the consumer!
However, some extended warranties are well worth a closer look! Such is the case with the extended warranty automatically offered by these credit cards. Many credit cards in Canada offer extended warranties that can extend a product’s original warranty. In other words, as soon as you buy one of these, your purchases benefit from a warranty of up to two years in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty.
The most advantageous are as follows:
What are the differences between legal warranty and hidden defects?
The legal warranty and the warranty against hidden defects are two distinct concepts that are sometimes confused because of their similarities. However, they have different implications and applications.
The legal warranty is an automatic protection for consumers when purchasing a good or service. It ensures that the product or service functions correctly is durable for a reasonable period and corresponds to the description given by the seller.
It requires no specific mention in the sales contract and applies automatically unless explicitly excluded (in some jurisdictions, it may be illegal to exclude the legal warranty).
It generally applies to apparent defects and problems that arise during a given period after purchase.
Warranty against hidden defects
The warranty against hidden defects covers defects not apparent at the time of purchase but present at the time of the transaction. These hidden defects render the good unfit for its intended use, or so diminish its usefulness that the buyer would not have purchased it, or would have paid a lower price, had he been aware of them.
This warranty applies even if the seller was unaware of the hidden defect. However, if the seller was aware of this and did not disclose it, there may be additional legal implications.
So what prevails?
If a defect is discovered after purchase, and it is determined to be a latent defect present at the time of sale, then the warranty against latent defects will prevail. The consumer may request repair, replacement or cancellation of the sale, depending on the seriousness of the defect.
The legal warranty applies if the defect is apparent, occurs shortly after purchase and is not hidden. The consumer may benefit from repair, replacement or price reduction.
In all cases, it’s essential to document the problem and consult local laws to understand your rights as a consumer.
How do you enforce the legal warranty?
After a few attempts at resuscitation, nothing could be done. Your device really has given up the ghost. No choice but to buy a new phone, and fast.
All is not lost here. Asserting your legal warranty can be complex, requiring a thorough knowledge of your rights. Consumers need to know the steps to take, the organizations to contact and how to dispute if the warranty is not honoured. It only takes a few steps on your part, and for the price, it’s often well worth it!
To do so, first contact the retailer or manufacturer, before filing a complaint with the Office de la protection du consommateur. You can do so by phone, in writing or in person. When you contact the retailer or manufacturer, you must explain the problem you are experiencing with the product. You must also provide proof of purchase, such as an invoice or receipt.
The dealer or manufacturer must respond within a reasonable time. If he agrees to reimburse, repair or replace the good, he must provide you with an estimate or a repair or replacement date. For example, you can claim the value of your old phone under the legal warranty. In general, it can take several months to conclude.
What if there were other solutions to guarantee your assets for longer? This is the case with extended warranty credit cards. Here’s a solution that could save you a lot of headaches.
What to do about hidden defects?
When you discover a hidden defect, it’s essential to act quickly and appropriately to assert your rights. Here are the steps to follow if you find yourself in this situation:
Document the hidden defect
Take clear photos or videos of the defect.
Keep all documents related to the purchase, such as the invoice, sales contract, e-mail correspondence or any other relevant document.
Inform the seller
Contact the seller or manufacturer as soon as you discover the hidden defect to inform them of the situation. It’s best to do this in writing (registered letter, e-mail) to keep a record of the communication.
Describe the problem in detail and indicate what you expect (repair, replacement, refund).
Give the seller a reasonable deadline
Give the seller a chance to remedy the situation. He can choose to repair, replace or refund the item.
Consult an expert, if necessary
If the seller disputes the latent defect, or if it’s difficult to determine the cause of the problem, you may need a professional appraisal. This expert will assess the defect and determine whether it is a hidden one.
Think about mediation
If the seller refuses to act, or if you cannot reach an agreement, consider mediation. This approach enables an amicable solution to be found with the help of a neutral mediator.
Consider legal recourse
If all previous attempts fail, you may want to consider taking legal action. Depending on the value of the dispute, this could take place in Small Claims Court or another legal forum.
Find out about your local rights
Laws concerning latent defects may vary by province or territory. In Quebec, for example, the legal warranty against hidden defects is enshrined in the Civil Code of Quebec. Make sure you know your specific rights in your jurisdiction.
Consult a lawyer
If the situation proves complex or you decide to take legal action, it may be wise to consult a lawyer specializing in consumer law.
Remember that a hidden defect is one that was not apparent at the time of purchase and which renders the item unfit for its intended use or so diminishes its usefulness that the buyer would not have purchased it or would not have paid the asking price, had they been aware of it.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your legal warranty
- Keep all documents relating to your purchase, such as the invoice or receipt. This will enable you to prove that you have purchased the item and that the legal warranty covers it.
- Inform the dealer or manufacturer of the problem as soon as possible. The faster you act, the easier it will be to get a refund, exchange or simply solve the problem.
- Be polite when contacting the dealer or manufacturer. This will help you achieve a better result and make negotiations easier.
Here are some examples of when you can invoke the legal warranty:
- You buy a TV that turns on and off at random.
- You buy a laptop that won’t boot.
- You buy a car with an oil leak.
- You buy a piece of furniture that is broken.
- You buy a garment that tears in the first wash.
The legal warranty is more than just a legal term; it’s a solid protection for every Quebec consumer. Understanding it and knowing how to use it is essential to guarantee safe purchases.
What is the minimum legal warranty in Quebec?
In Quebec (Canada), the Consumer Protection Act stipulates that goods purchased must have a reasonable life, but no fixed duration is specified. This depends on the nature of the good, its price, the terms of the contract and the conditions of use.
Can you sell without a legal warranty?
In Canada, particularly in Quebec, it is possible to sell a property “without legal warranty,” which means that the property is sold “as is, “and the buyer assumes all risks associated with any hidden defects or other problems that may arise after purchase. However, the words “without legal warranty” must be clearly stated in the sales contract.