The State of California passed an update to its Song-Beverly Warranty Act, which will become effective on July 1, 2023. Any company selling products into the state that include written warranties, which is most companies, should review its warranties now to ensure compliance. Failure to do so can result in private class action litigation or consumer protection enforcement by the California Attorney General.
Typical limited warranties measure their duration from the date of sale. Thus, a typical warranty would state that the warranty period lasts two or three years from the original date of sale, a transaction that might occur online or out of state. Keying the warranty period to the date of sale makes it easier for retailers to manage, as they may sell a product online, but have little direct control over the timing of fulfilment and shipping, making the precise delivery date to the consumer uncertain.
California's new law bans that typical scenario however. Under AB2912, which was signed by Governor Newsom in September 2022, and which will go into effect on July 1, 2023, the warranty period must commence no sooner than the delivery date of product to the consumer. What's more, failure to make this warranty language clear on written warranty documents might itself violate the Song-Beverly Act, which can give rise to penalties, damages, fees and costs. Of course, this could be an enticing hook for entrepreneurial plaintiffs' firms.
Now is the time to review warranty cards and policies to ensure they comply. Products might be manufactured and packaged now, which might not be sold until next year, after the new law goes into effect.