When my appliances failed within four years of purchasing them, I was able to recoup a portion of the cost of repairs once I learned about the Maine Implied Warranty law. According to maine.gov, the law “protects consumers from being sold seriously defective items. It can be an unfair trade practice to refuse to honor the Maine Implied Warranty Law within four years of sale. The basic test for possible implied warranty violations is as follows: The item is seriously defective; The consumer did not damage the item; The item is still within its useful life and is not simply worn out.”

I say “some of the cost” because my window of opportunity closed without my knowledge in January, and according to the retailer, they were not obligated to mention the warranty law; it is up to the consumer to know the consumer rights. So, that is why I’m writing this. Fellow Mainers should know about this protection because retailers won’t, and apparently, don’t need to tell you. In fact, they’ll probably try to sell you a redundant and expensive extended warranty instead. But let me back up a bit.

In 2018, I purchased a dishwasher, refrigerator, and range suite from a Maine appliance seller. Unfortunately, by 2022 both the dishwasher and the range had significant failures. When I contacted the seller in December 2022 to schedule repairs for both, I was informed that 1) the appliances only had one-year limited manufacturer’s warranties and 2) service calls for each would need to be scheduled for the charge of $200 per service, parts not included. I asked if they could combine the service visits to save money and time and was told that there would only be a slight discount and I would need to wait well into January. Cash-strapped before the holidays, I concluded that I’d wait on the range, which no longer had a functioning automatic flame ignition, and I scheduled the service for the dishwasher since it was completely inoperable.

After spending more than $300 on parts and labor for the $500 dishwasher, a friend told me about the Maine Implied Warranty Law, which protects consumers for four years for appliances. When I contacted the seller and asked them about that law, they agreed to reimburse me for the money spent on the dishwasher repair, not the range, because I hadn’t scheduled the service for the range within the four-year window. Again, I had no idea there was a window until I learned of this law in January, but the seller surely did, and they knew my rights would expire in December. Somehow, this seems unfair, and I’m sure I am not alone.

Also, they and other retailers sell expensive extended warranties that duplicate the free protections consumers already have through this law which is something people should know before being talked into that common upcharge.

It’s not my intention to point out a particular appliance seller, but rather help other Maine consumers understand their rights. For many of us, buying new appliances is a substantial financial commitment. I am not a lawyer, and it’s unfortunate that one seemingly needs to be one to enjoy the complete protection of the law. It’s also unfortunate that when we chose to buy locally and not from a box store, we incorrectly assumed that we would be treated with more care. That was not the case here.

The good news is that one can freeze their rights to Maine’s Implied Warranty protection if they send a written explanation detailing why and how the product is defective. In fact, the State of Maine created a sample letter (available at the Attorney General Office’s consumer law guide web page) that I could have used and now have on hand for future reference. I urge everyone to print a few off as well.

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