Lemon Laws 101

The Basics: What is the Lemon Law?

At a very basic level, the Lemon Law is defined as “a set of laws that provide a remedy for purchases that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.”

Cars, trucks, RVs, motorcycles, televisions, phones, computers and thousands of other items are all consumer products covered by Lemon Laws. Lemon Laws provide consumers with protections for their purchases to one degree or another. What recourse you have for any problems with these products varies by:

  • Product type
  • State of purchase
  • Specific warranty rights

A successful resolution with the product supplier depends on knowing the differences among these protections and where you stand.

A Common Misperception

Most think the Lemon Law is an all-encompassing consumer protection law that allows anyone to return any product—at any time—when it doesn’t perform as expected. Unfortunately, the Lemon Laws are not that easy or straightforward. A broken product or vehicle does not always equal a refund.

The good news is that you are often in a stronger position than the manufacturer, seller, or warrantor would lead you to believe. This justifies standing up for yourself and demanding a refund or replacement of the defective product. At other times, however, you may be outside the Lemon Law’s protections and need to take a more peace-making approach in reaching a solution, if a resolution is to be had at all.

A Rule of Thumb

In its simplest terms, the Lemon Laws provide any consumer the ability to stand on even footing with a much larger seller. They also enforce the warrantor’s promise that a product will be defect free and function normally.

The Lemon Laws: A Patchwork of Protection

The Lemon Laws in place today are a jumble of consumer protection coverage developed over many years. Unfortunately, the laws are limiting. We can return only some products some of the time for some reasons and not for others.
Many different laws, administrative rules, court precedents and regulations exist to protect consumers when products don’t work as expected. But they are far from uniform. The legislatures and Attorneys General of each state, Congress, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and others attempted to provide us with protections from unscrupulous retailers or inferior products. They did a fair job, but more consumer protection—and uniformity—are needed.

To keep it simple, when we refer to the Lemon Law (or Lemon Laws), we’re referring to the entire patchwork of state and federal protection laws and regulations. They all operate in very similar ways, and if you’re entitled to relief under one, you’re likely entitled to relief under several. And, you’ll have different options available to you for resolving any issue. However, if you have specific questions regarding your position under any consumer protection law, call a professional for specific advice.

Click the link below to find out if you’re covered.
Next – Part 2: Understanding the Lemon Laws