CONSUMERS | Warranties and Defective Products

Lemon law protection

Most products come with some kind of warranty when you buy them new, and some used products have warranties too, but you need to know your rights under those warranties.

Ask the sales person about the warranty if they don’t volunteer any information about it and ask for a written warranty if one isn’t included with the product.

Check the written warranty against what you were told by the seller.

Keep your receipt and be sure to fill out the warranty card and send it in right away or register your product on the seller or manufacturer’s website if it offers that service.

Be wary of so-called extended warranties. Some offer you minimal protection that overlaps with the original warranty—and don’t forget to compare the cost of the extended warranty to the price of the product itself. It may be cheaper to simply replace the product.

If you have a dispute with a seller who refuses to deal fairly with you, you may have a right to a “charge back” if you used a credit card to buy the product.

When buying by mail or online, be wary of offers of products at prices significantly less than “list” or “suggested retail” prices. Even if the price is really less than what you might pay in a local store, watch out for exorbitant “shipping and handling” costs. They can wipe out and even exceed the discount you are offered on the price. You can often find the same price at a local retailer and not have to pay shipping.

Be wary of offers that promise too much.

Protect yourself before you buy

Where to look for information about products, manufacturers and retailers:

  • The Consumer Products Safety Commission has information about product safety and provides a way for consumers to see product recalls and report unsafe products:
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has information for consumers about food, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics and many other products:

Customers’ reviews of products are posted on a wide variety of websites on the Internet. These reviews can give you important information about the quality of the product or service you are shopping for. Here are some websites that may contain useful reviews. Please note that McCormick and Boyd Law Firm does not vouch for or warrant the accuracy of any information you may find on these websites.

Many big-box stores and specialty retailers post customer reviews on the products they sell; for example,

Searching a retailer’s or product’s name on one of the several search engines will sometimes find websites full of reviews and complaints about the retailer or the product.

The Better Business Bureau:

Your state’s Attorney General or some other agency of your state government may have a consumer protection division. The Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division can be reached at or (512) 463-2100 (main switchboard). The Consumer Protection Hotline is (800)621-0508.

If you receive an offer by mail or e-mail and the price looks too good to pass up, try to find the same item at a local retailer so you can see the real thing and compare it to the item offered by mail or e-mail. Also, shop for the product online to see how the offered price stacks up to online retailers’ prices.