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Keep detailed records of warranty claims

Why it's vital to document your complaints about defective products

Published: December 28, 2013 09:00 AM

Having a problem with a new product, perhaps something you received as a holiday gift? There are several reasons why you must keep detailed records about the issue and the efforts you took to resolve it with the company that made or sold the item.

If a written (or express) warranty expires, you’re typically still covered for any defect you reported before the expiration date, even if the retailer or manufacturer tried unsuccessfully to correct it.

Also, if you end up having to appeal to a supervisor or a company’s executive office for help in resolving a problem, or you end up in court over the issue, having good documentation can make all the difference.

State laws generally provide you with implied (or unwritten) warranty rights that protect you if a product is defective or did not function properly for a reasonable time period. But you need to report any issue as soon as you discover it, and be able to prove that you did.

Finally, some warranty rights, such as those that come from state lemon laws covering new and used cars, pets, and even wheelchairs, focus on how long after a purchase a problem occurred and, in some cases, the number of chances the company had to resolve it.

So when you complain, record the name and title of the person you spoke or wrote to, the time and date of the communication, the nature of the problem, and the response you received. If the retailer or manufacturer attempts to address the problem by making a repair, keep copies of invoices or work orders.

For more on your warranty rights, read The word on warranty protection: You have more rights than you might think.

Anthony Giorgianni


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