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The Lemon Law: It’s Not Just for Cars


Although the Lemons Law is most often associated with defective vehicles, it applies to all consumer products purchased for personal use. What exactly is a “consumer product for personal use”? That would be virtually anything an individual buys for their own or household use, except clothing and consumables. It could be an electric toothbrush or a kitchen appliance. There have been several calls for creating a computer lemon law, but the law already covers computers bought for personal use. It also covers musical instruments and even medical devices such as wheel chairs and hearing aids. The only requirement is that the product is bought primarily for personal or family use.

Consumers don’t expect manufacturers to produce defective products, but this consumer protection law takes the opposite view–the more expensive and complicated a product is, the more possibility there is that something can go wrong. Both consumer and manufacturer have rights and duties under this law: the consumer has the duty to present the product to the manufacturer or its representative dealer so that they can diagnose the defect and repair it. Along with the duty, the consumer has a right to expect that the product will be repaired honestly and expeditiously.

Manufacturers have the right to expect that the consumer will present their defective vehicle at an authorized dealer for repair in a timely manner, nothing more. They cannot expect that the consumer perfectly describe the defect or any other limiting requirement. The Lemon Law makes allowances for the manufacturer to repair the product, or if that fails, to refund the money or give the purchaser a replacement.

Lemon Law Tips

• Your best defense against an uncooperative manufacturer is a thorough, specific and accurate service-record paper trail. Document everything. Obtain copies of all warranty repair orders from the dealer and keep notes of your reported problems and all conversations you have with service people, including the date, time and participants in these conversations.

• Determine whether your previous efforts to repair the problem satisfy the requirements of your state’s lemon law. Most state laws allow the manufacturer three or four chances to repair the defect or defects.

• Put your complaint in writing. Send a letter to the manufacturer and ask for either a refund or replacement.

• If you still don’t get satisfaction, consider hiring an experienced and effective lemon law attorney.