13 investigates: Little known Maine law to protect consumers
GRAY (WGME) - CBS 13 is investigating the case of a Gray homeowner who contacted us saying the company that makes his furnace is leaving him in the cold by not following state law. The law is intended to protect consumers and everything you buy, but we discovered many businesses don't even know about the law, so prepare to be persistent.
David Spaulding called us about his furnace that recently stopped working. A receipt shows the furnace was purchased and installed in November 2012. Just 15 months later, he had to pay a $335 dollar repair bill for a brand new blower motor.
"You expect the product to last," Spaulding said.
To protect consumers like Spaulding, the state has dozens of laws in place, including the Implied Warranty law. The law says everything you buy comes with a four-year warranty. If the product proves to be poorly designed or defective, and you can't use it any more, it has to be fixed at no cost to you. The Maine Attorney General's Office says it's a useful and powerful tool and one not enough people know about.
"They should know that there's the four-year implied warranty which would cover any repairs or replacement provided you didn't abuse the product, it just stopped working, you can get that repaired or replaced for free," Compliant Examiner Martha Currier said.
So according to the state's Implied Warranty law, Spaulding shouldn't be stuck with this $335 bill.
"Both the manufacturer and the seller of the product are responsible for that repair or replacement," Currier said.
Spaulding says he cited the implied warranty, but the seller pointed him to the manufacturer.
The manufacturer and the local seller told us they'd have to research the law because they aren't familiar with it. Even Paula Fleming with the Better Business Bureau never heard of it.
"You've brought it my attention so I have to tell you I didn't know about this law. It's a great law to help consumers, and it's up the consumer to wave the flag and say, 'Hey, I fall within this law,'" Fleming said.
The Attorney General's office has a form letter you can use to contact businesses about the law and your defective purchase. The AG's office will also mediate cases if you're not getting the resolution you're hoping for, like in Spaulding's case.
Used cars are the exception to the law.
The extended warranties stores try to sell you on big purchases may give you some extra peace of mind, but the AG's office says if you're willing to take a few more steps and file a claim under Maine's Implied Warranty law, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Maine Office of the Attorney General complaint and mediation line: 1-800-436-2131