Conventional ("Manufacturer's") Warranties


There are many terms used to describe the various warranties on products. These terms include the following:

  • replacement plan
  • coverage
  • protection
  • satisfaction guaranteed
  • manufacturer’s warranty
  • “lifetime” warranty

If a merchant tells you that your purchase comes with an extra warranty that will protect you against problems, the merchant is probably talking about what the law calls a “conventional warranty”.

A conventional warranty is extra protection added to the legal warranty that comes automatically with a product. A conventional warranty might have more benefits than a legal warranty.

Conventional Warranties: Extra Protection Often Offered by Manufacturers

It is usually the manufacturer of the product that decides to offer a conventional warranty. If this is the case, it is called the manufacturer’s warranty. But sometimes merchants also offer conventional warranties.

A conventional warranty is offered verbally or in a written contract when you buy a product. The warranty is often explained in the pamphlet in the box the product came in.

To take advantage of the warranty, there might be costs involved. This means that you might, for example, have pay part of the cost of replacement parts.

What is covered by a conventional warranty?

The coverage and length of a conventional warranty vary from one warranty to another. For example, this kind of warranty could say the following:

  • A conventional warranty offered by a merchant might say that, in the case of a defect, the goods will be repaired or replaced at no charge, for two years.
  • A conventional warranty offered by another merchant on the same product might provide that the product will be repaired free of charge for life.

If a conventional warranty is already offered by the manufacturer, the merchant might choose to offer you a different extra warranty, such as an “extended warranty”. A merchant that wants to sell you an extra warranty must tell you verbally and in writing that there is already an automatic legal warranty on the product and explain what that legal warranty covers. The merchant must also tell you verbally about the manufacturer’s warranty and how long it lasts.

The conventional warranty must not exclude the legal warranty. A legal warranty that is longer than a conventional warranty continues to apply even after the conventional warranty expires. A conventional warranty does not replace a legal warranty. The two are complementary.

Contents of a Conventional Warranty Contract

If a conventional warranty is provided for in a contract, the contract must clearly contain the following information:

  • the name and address of the manufacturer (and the merchant in question)
  • a description of the product
  • what the consumer must do to use the warranty
  • the parts that are under warranty
  • whether or not the warranty can be transferred
  • the precise length of the warranty (coverage period)
  • any fees to be paid by the consumer

If any information in the contract is unclear, it will be interpreted to the benefit of the consumer. Also, what is not included in the conventional warranty must be clearly indicated in the contract.

A Conventional Warranty Can Be Attached to the Product

A conventional warranty can be attached to the product in these situations: if the warranty is contained in a contract and the contract says this warranty is attached to the product. What does this mean? It means that if the consumer sells the product to another person, the second person can take advantage of the conventional warranty, if it hasn’t expired.

To use the conventional warranty, the second person does not have to prove to the manufacturer or merchant that the previous owner used the product properly.

Important! When you buy a used car or motorcycle from a merchant (not an individual) or when you have a used car or motorcycle repaired, the conventional warranty is automatically attached to the vehicle. It does not have to be mentioned in the contract.

What Cannot Be Included in a Conventional Warranty

As a general rule, neither a manufacturer nor a merchant can require that a consumer use a particular brand name product (a cleaning product, for example) for the conventional warranty to apply.

But they can require this if

  • the brand name product is supplied free of charge,
  • the brand name product is necessary for the goods to work properly, or
  • the consumer payed for a conventional warranty that was sold separately.