California Updates to the Warranty Act and What it Means for Companies as of July 1, 2023June 6, 2023 – Client Alert
This article is a brief summary of a recent update to the California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act regarding express warranties and its impact on business entities.
The Update to the California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act
As of July 1, 2023, the State of California will require that all manufacturers, distributors, or retail sellers (collectively referred to in this article as “Sellers”) that provide an express warranty covering a consumer good that is sold in California must ensure that the period of such express warranty does not begin earlier than the date of the delivery of such consumer good. Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.01.
The new requirement, officially enacted into law on September 22, 2022, is an addition to the California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (see Cal. Civ. Code, §§ 1790 to 1795.8), which provides certain protections and remedies for purchasers of consumer goods. Prior to the new requirement going into effect on July 1, 2023, Sellers are, and were, able to provide warranties that start as soon as the product is purchased, or any point thereafter, irrespective of when the consumer receives the good.
A consumer good is any product, or any part of such product, that is bought or leased primarily for personal or household purposes, except for clothing and consumables. See Cal. Civ. Code § 1791(a). A few examples of consumer goods would be cars, cleaning products, furniture and appliances.
An express warranty is a written statement stemming from the sale of a consumer good where the Seller makes promises (i.e., warranties), with respect to the performance or utility of such consumer good. In connection with such promises, the Seller will either undertake to preserve the consumer good, by providing maintenance, or provide compensation, with money or a replacement, in the event the consumer good does not live up to such promises. See Cal. Civ. Code § 1791.2(a). The California Civil Code makes it clear that words such as “warrant”, “guarantee” or “promise” are not needed in order to create an express warranty. See below for a few examples of express warranties, each statement would be an express warranty whether expressed in writing or orally (although proving an oral statement is a separate issue).
- "We guarantee all furniture against defects in construction for one year. When a structural defect is brought to our attention, we will repair or replace it."
- “This table can hold up to 40 pounds.”
- "We guarantee that this vehicle will last until 105,000 miles.”
- “This car gets 35 miles per gallon.”
Impact on Business Entities
Any Seller that is selling a consumer good in the state of California that provides an express warranty with respect to such consumer good must update its internal policies to ensure that it is only tracking the time period of such express warranty from the date of the delivery of such good to each consumer. Additionally, if such Seller expressly states, in any materials or oral descriptions intended for buyers, that an express warranty begins at the time of purchase (or any other time that is prior to the date of delivery), the Seller will need to revise such statements prior to July 1, 2023. Because an express warranty can be created without words such as “warrant”, “guarantee” or “promise”, Sellers should make sure that its employees and agents are aware so that they do not unintentionally create an express warranty with a buyer.
If a Seller does not comply with the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, including the new requirement after July 1, 2023, such entity or person may be liable to buyers of consumer goods for damages and other legal and equitable relief. Buyers of consumer goods who are injured by a Seller’s non-compliance with the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act may also bring a class action to enforce the provisions of the Act. Additionally, if a buyer, or buyers in a class action, were to prevail in an action under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act the buyer(s) would also be entitled to receive an amount equal to the costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees, as determined by the court to have been reasonably incurred by the buyer(s) in connection with the commencement and prosecution of such action.
In the event you need any assistance (1) determining how and if the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, including this most recent update, applies to your business or (2) complying with the requirements of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, please reach out to Andrew Apfelberg or Arthur Moore.