Sellers take note: Changes to Song-Beverly Consumer Act may require updated warranty language
As of July 1, 2023, a new California law precludes sellers of consumer goods from making express warranties that begin on any date earlier than the product’s date of delivery.
In September 2022, the California Legislature passed, and Governor Gavin Newsom signed, AB 2912, a bill amending the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act by adding section 1793.01 to the California Civil Code.
The new section applies to all warranties for consumer goods made after July 1, 2023. It states that “[a] manufacturer, distributor, or retail seller shall not make an express warranty with respect to a consumer good that commences earlier than the date of delivery of the good.”
"Consumer goods” are defined to include any product or part of a product that is “used, bought, or leased…primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, except for clothing and consumables.”
Until now, date of purchase has been a common method for calculating warranty periods for consumer goods not just in California but nationally. Section 1793.01 does not contain an exclusion for goods already in the stream of commerce as of July 1.
To minimize exposure to enterprising plaintiffs’ lawyers, sellers should confirm that their express warranty provisions comply with section 1793.01 and evaluate whether warranty language needs updating to ensure compliance. This could include updating warranty language both in physical product literature, inserts, and packaging, as well as on websites. In updating warranty language, sellers may wish to consider whether they will apply changes nationally for products sold outside of California.
Other steps may include updating warranty validation methods. The methods most frequently used to validate the commencement of a warranty period – proofs of purchase and receipts – are likely to reflect the date of purchase rather than delivery. These methods thus may not be conducive to compliant warranties.
Instead, sellers may consider using proof of delivery from shippers as the document that triggers the start of a warranty period, though this may also pose challenges. To minimize exposure, sellers may need to retrain employees responsible for evaluating warranty claims to ensure that warranty periods are determined correctly and in compliance with the law.
For more information on compliance with the updated Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, please contact the authors.
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