I-Team: The 1-2-3s of Maine's 4-year implied warranty law
STATEWIDE (WGME) — If you buy something in Maine and then it breaks or doesn't work like it's supposed to, did you know there's a law protecting you?
During this National Consumer Protection Week, the I-Team is on your side, giving you the 3-part test for Maine's Implied Warranty Law of Merchantability.
Every Friday, for years, Paula Thibodeau says she's been doing the same thing at her Sanford home — 5 loads of laundry.
Since November of 2016 she says she never knows what she's going to get when she tries to start up her machine.
"It's like this 'knock, knock, knock' that loud and constantly; it sounds like a gear going," said Larry Thibodeau.
A receipt shows they bought the washing machine in April 2013, less than four years ago.
They thought they'd be covered by Maine law when they tried to get it fixed.
"It was one of your programs about Maine implied warranty," Paula Thibodeau said.
The I-Team has done many stories over the years about Maine's Implied Warranty law from furnaces that don't fire up to laptops behaving badly, but many consumers and retailers are still often confused about how it works.
"Anything we buy here in Maine, there's an implied warranty on it; that's what we're going by. It's a four-year implied warranty," Paula Thibodeau said.
The only exception to this law is for used cars sold "as is," according to Attorney General Janet Mills.
Mills calls it a powerful protection for Maine consumers. Maine is only one of 10 states with this kind of law.
"It means when you buy a consumer product — appliance refrigerator, computer, TV, it's good for what it's supposed to be doing up to 4 years," Mills said.
Mills uses a 3-part test:
- You have to show the item is poorly designed or seriously defective
- You have not abused it
- The item was purchased less than four years ago and still within its normally expected useful life (for a washer, that estimate in the Maine consumer guide is 12-14 years)
"When that's the case, you have the right to take it back, demand that you get a new one, a different, or demand it be repaired, in some cases get your money back," Mills explained.
But Larry and Paula say they're having trouble getting the store to fix what they believe is a serious defect in their washing machine.
"They keep jerking us around; doing nothing," Larry said.
The store told us they'd look into the case and Maine's law. The Consumer Division of the Office of the Maine Attorney General will help mediate the dispute.
"We help hundreds of people routinely with such complaints and we're happy to do that every day," Mills said.
Contact the AG's Consumer Protection Division
- 207-626-8849 or toll-free at 1-800-436-2131