What Is the Florida Appliance Lemon Law?

By Jim Harrington
Consumers who purchase a faulty appliance like a microwave oven may have legal rights under Florida law.

microwave image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com

Consumers who fall victim to a deceitful or dishonest appliance merchant are protected by two laws, but Florida does not have an "appliance lemon law." Still, business customers are not out of luck, according to Larry Krick, chief investigator with the of the Pinellas County Justice and Consumer Services Department. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the state's Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices Act protect consumers against maker of junk or "lemon" products, as well as businesses that fraud and cheat their customers.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

This federal law, enacted in 1975, regulates warranties provided by businesses. Generally, consumers are afforded strong legal protections under the act, including the right to a written warrant, the terms of which must be fully disclosed before any product is sold. The law contains three important elements:

Businesses that warrant their products must label the guarantee as either full or limited. A business may not deny any "implied warranties" if it decides to enter into a warranty or service contract with its customer. Second, the business can't take an excessive amount of time to fix a product it has warranted. It must remedy the problem within a "reasonable" time frame. Third, the business must ensure that the warranty is available for inspection by the consumer before the purchase is completed. (Consumers should note that businesses don't have to give a "written warranty," but if they do, the law gives consumer solid legal rights.)

Florida Consumer Law

The state's Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices Act protects consumers (and businesses) against, among other things, "unfair competition, competition exclusion, antitrust violations, bait-and-switch scams, and consumer law violations." The law, known as FDUTPA, prohibits businesses from deceiving their customers through false advertising, fraud or even misrepresenting the source of the general make up of a product.

Little-Known Facts

Under the law, a firm cannot belittle its competitors' products or advertise goods with the intention of offering another product in its place. Business must also not intentionally advertise products knowing all along that they can't possibly meet the public demand.

Exemptions

Laws that allow for certain practices could be exempt. And other state and federal agencies might allow a practice that would be otherwise prohibited under the FDUPTA. For example, businesses regulated by the Department of Financial Services could operate in a different manner than what FDUPTA allows.

Feds Have Pull

Based on the Uniform Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act gives "due consideration and great weight" to opinions of the federal courts and the Federal Trade Commission. There are exceptions to the law. For instance, retailers acting in "good faith" who don't know of a violation may not be prosecuted.

About the Author

Jim Harrington has been a professional journalist in the Tampa Bay area market for more than 13 years. Writing as a freelance correspondent for a local newspaper, Harrington graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida and was hired full-time as an editor at Tampa Bay Newspapers, both in 2001.

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