Warranty Legislation

By Matt Johnson
September 26, 2017
THE TALK... | Codes & Standards

Applause met the recent defeat of legislation in Connecticut that would have imposed timelines on warranty claims and required manufacturers to pay for materials and labor. From many perspectives, these requirements would have proven costly and harsh in application.

While it was vetoed, it is worth asking what the legislation itself points toward and whether there is a disconnect between those making window and door products and those buying.

Consumers can buy fenestration products via a number of channels and each type of sale brings its own contact points and legal realities. But, however sold, it is the manufacturer’s name on the product and warranty that stays with the consumer for years after actual installation. So, if problems arise, the manufacturer is usually first to get the call.

Manufacturers generally respond to this reality by excluding installation and other actions after the product leaves their control. While that is a seemingly reasonable business solution, consumers with an excluded claim tend not to find comfort in it. 

These same consumers often also find that installers are not staffed to addresses warranty-style claims or their installation-warranty has expired. And while many manufacturers and installers are exceptionally responsive to consumers, there is also no shortage of legal claims and consumer complaints by those who feel they were hurt by the shifting of responsibility between manufacturer and installer.

That is the potential disconnect. It lies in the sphere of legal responsibilities that converge at a window opening and how those align with a consumer’s expectations. Connecticut’s legislative response was to simply push the obligations onto the manufacturers, regardless of the source or nature of the claim. Other states have considered similar approaches.

If this issue exists, and if legislatures are taking note, the question turns to whether this industry responds. Obviously, there is no silver bullet, but it is worth considering how to potentially align expectations with the legal realities—before a legislature does it for us.

What do you think is the most effective means of educating consumers regarding responsibilities for potential claims? Leave your comment below or send us an email with your thoughts on the subject. 

 

 Matt Johnson is an attorney with The Gary Law Group, a law firm based in Portland that focuses on legal issues facing manufacturers of windows and doors. Contact him at 503/620-6615 or matt@prgarylaw.com.