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Appliance dealers push lawmakers to change Maine warranty law

AUGUSTA (WGME) -- A powerful Maine law protecting consumers is at the center of a debate at the state house.

State Senator Garrett Mason (R-Lisbon Falls) wants a group to study Maine's Implied Warranty Law and consider updating it.

The CBS 13 I-Team has done many stories about the law, protecting consumers from being sold seriously defective items.

The law says most everything you buy is covered for 4 years from the date of purchase if the item is seriously defective, the consumer did not damage the item, and the item is still within its useful life and is not simply worn out, as explained by the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

On Tuesday a legislative committee heard a bill that would require a commission to take a closer look at the law, which has been on the books since the 1970s.

During a public hearing, Mason said there are many problems with the law and the Attorney General's Consumer Guide.

Appliance dealers in the state are pushing for changes and call the law "antiquated" and "unfair."

Eric Agren from Agren Appliance said the law is creating a hardship because many issues are caused by user error or misuse.

He also said appliances aren't made as well as they used to be and some manufacturers won't reimburse them for repairs.

"We do not want to expose the consumer to more risk. We just need some updates and a little more clarity to help us so we can hire more people and be more profitable," Agren said.

Mason said the law is hurting small businesses.

"The consumer protection laws are good in this state -- they're very favorable to the consumer, but they should also be fair to the employer and make sure they aren't having to spend money on things that are not their responsibility," Mason said.

The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division did not take a position either for nor against LD 1772.

"However, we do question whether this is a bill in search of a problem," said Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti in a letter to the committee.

"Should the committee be inclined to study the implied warranty, we urge the committee to expand the study to include the extended warranties that many businesses sell with their products. We fear that repealing or amending the implied warranty will lead to the sale of more expensive extended warranties that provide only limited coverage and no real benefit to consumers," Conti wrote.

The committee took no action today.

CBS 13 will follow this bill and let you know if there are any changes to the law.

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