Does the “lemon law” cover a four-year-old refrigerator?

question, mark, ask, answer, wonder, who, what, why

Kip Anderson’s General Electric refrigerator has suffered a catastrophic failure. But she’s not happy with GE’s resolution — and we don’t think we can help her get a better one.

Her case underscores the value of an extended warranty — as well as understanding the applicable laws. Anderson believed that her state’s “lemon laws” applied to her situation. But they don’t.

“Lemon laws” are U.S. state laws that cover purchases of consumer products, such as appliances and cars, which repeatedly fail according to normal standards of quality and performance. These laws provide buyers of such goods grounds for legal action against the manufacturers of the goods. Each state has its own lemon law.

Anderson and her husband, residents of California, purchased a side-by-side GE refrigerator for $7,647 when they moved into their home in 2013. At that time, they declined to purchase an extended warranty for the refrigerator, which would have provided coverage for the cost of repairing the refrigerator.

“Now we think it would have been a good idea, but as you know, hindsight is 20/20,” says Anderson.

No kidding. A few months after the Andersons purchased the refrigerator, the freezer inside it stopped maintaining its optimal temperature, causing the icemaker to leak and all of the contents of the refrigerator and freezer to spoil. The refrigerator has failed three times since then, each time requiring that the entire contents of the refrigerator and freezer be discarded after spoiling. The motor fan, evaporator fan and motherboard have been replaced more than once.

After the most recent failure, which took six days to repair and cost $453, Anderson asked GE for a full refund of the original cost of her refrigerator and reimbursement of the repair cost. GE offered to replace the refrigerator with another of the same model for $3,000, or an extended warranty on the most recent repairs to her current refrigerator. But it is not willing to issue Anderson a cash refund or reimbursement of the repair costs.

Anderson isn’t satisfied with GE’s proposed resolution.

“As you can imagine, I am reluctant to have the same thing as what I have since mine has been nothing but trouble,” she says. “I printed out the California Lemon Law and it does appear they have responsibilities, regardless of whether I have a warranty or not.”

But did Anderson read the law correctly?

California’s Lemon Law, the Song-Beverly Act, holds that all goods in the state are sold with an “implied warranty of merchantability”:

(a) “Implied warranty of merchantability” or “implied warranty that goods are merchantable” means that the consumer goods meet each of the following:
(1) Pass without objection in the trade under the contract description.
(2) Are fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used.
(3) Are adequately contained, packaged, and labeled.
(4) Conform to the promises or affirmations of fact made on the container or label…

Unless disclaimed in the manner prescribed by this chapter, every sale of consumer goods that are sold at retail in this state shall be accompanied by the manufacturer’s and the retail seller’s implied warranty that the goods are merchantable. The retail seller shall have a right of indemnity against the manufacturer in the amount of any liability under this section.

Anderson feels that her refrigerator is not merchantable because it isn’t fit for the ordinary purpose of a refrigerator and freezer, which is to store food items at preset low temperatures to protect them from spoilage. We don’t disagree with that.

Unfortunately for Anderson, the Song-Beverly Act’s applicability has a time limit:

[In] no event shall such implied warranty have a duration of less than 60 days nor more than one year following the sale of new consumer goods to a retail buyer. Where no duration for an express warranty is stated with respect to consumer goods, or parts thereof, the duration of the implied warranty shall be the maximum period prescribed above.

Since Anderson’s refrigerator is four years old, the window of time for which it was covered by the implied warranty of merchantability has expired. The Song-Beverly Act contains no language that would compel GE to refund the cost of her refrigerator or repairs.

And Anderson had an entire year after purchasing the refrigerator to seek the protection of the Song-Beverly Act. Alternatively, she could have purchased an extended warranty when she bought the refrigerator.

We’ll put it to our readers:

Should the Andersons accept GE’s offer of either a new refrigerator of the same model at half the cost of the original or an extended warranty on the latest repair cost?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.