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Warranty's Fine Print

December 22, 1985

Regarding "Is Mailing Little Card Required for Warranty?" (For What It's Worth, Nov. 18), it is my understanding that the warranty return card has quite a different purpose than any set forth in your column.

As I understand it, unless a consumer buys a product with notice of a limited warranty, or unless he agrees in advance to a specific warranty, the product is purchased with the rather broad warranties provided by law.

In other words, every product is presumed to carry the warranties provided by law. Therefore, the only purpose of the return card is to have the consumer agree to the more limited warranty specified by the manufacturer.

For certain products, such as automobiles, it is rather difficult to make a purchase without agreeing in advance to the limited warranty. However, for most products, especially those that cost far less than an automobile, the consumer is not aware of the manufacturer's limited warranty prior to purchase. Consequently, he can take advantage of the broader legal warranties.

If the foregoing is correct, then the consumer is far better off if he does not return the warranty registration card in most instances.

Furthermore, there may be great difficulty in returning some products if the warranty card has been sent in because most returns require all the original packing material. The merchant cannot then resell the returned merchandise as new goods.

W. MICHAEL JOHNSON

San Marino

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