Written by Amanda Trenerry – Founder & CEO of Neomorph Mouthguards
I imagine there are some of us who have purchased a product, at least in part, because we noticed a large $ (monetary) warranty and made the assumption that the product must be of good quality because the company is putting its money where its mouth is ….so to speak!!! The truth of the warranty coverage may be much more complicated and much more limited than the headline, so reading the fine print is always a good idea.
What is a Warranty?
For clarification, a Warranty is protection to compensate you for damage that you suffer as a result of a faulty product. It is not an “insurance” for damage if the product hasn’t made an applicable performance claim, there is no fault with the product and/or the mouthguard has been incorrectly fitted.
As an extreme example…… if a mouthguard manufacturer stated that “our mouthguard will guarantee to protect your teeth under any conditions” and you had your front tooth knocked out while wearing the mouthguard and being hit by a car, you may have a legal right to claim as the manufacturer made a performance claim “under any conditions” and that wasn’t fulfilled. However, if you bought a mouthguard that stated the mouthguard “will adequately protect when worn for sports” yet didn’t quantify that – then an assumption would need to be made of what is ordinarily expected of a mouthguard product (i.e what is reasonably acceptable or implied by “adequately protect”).
In addition, the warranty would also be subject to the conditions within the warranty guidelines i.e the mouthguard must be properly fitted in accordance to the instructions, adequately covering the injured tooth, the injury occurred during an officiated game or practice match whereby it can be validated by an officiating umpire or coach etc, etc.
It is also worth noting that if there are $ figures on the packaging they may not reflect a per tooth or per incident scenario i.e in the case of mouthguards the terms of a warranty will often provide that the $ (monetary i.e $25,000) amount is:
- divisible by 32 teeth (16 on the upper arch and 16 on the lower arch – this includes wisdom teeth even if you don’t have them)
- warranty is only available for the teeth actually covered by the mouthguard (which in most cases will be the upper 12 teeth)
- and only available for the teeth that are damaged
To clarify ………. a Dental Warranty of $25,000 sounds reasonable when you consider that you could afford to replace a lost tooth with an implant for $25,000. The reality however, is that the fine print of the warranty may provide that the amount of $25,000 is for all damages and when you divide the $25,000 Dental Warranty by 32 teeth the actual amount equates to just $781.25 per tooth. The result being a maximum of $781.25 per damaged tooth and that is providing that all the warranty criteria is met.
The Facts & Australian Consumer Law
Under Australian Consumer Law when you buy products and services in Australia the manufacturer or supplier must comply with consumer guarantees that include the product will be of acceptable quality. If you buy something that isn’t right, you have consumer rights which are not limited to any warranty a supplier sells or offers you. The consumer guarantees can continue to apply even after the expiration of a warranty period specified by a manufacturer. If you are hurt as a result of a misrepresentation or failure of the product you have rights – do not be deterred by a manufacturers fine print. In Australia a manufacturer/supplier is bound by Australian Consumer Law. If in doubt, do some research on the ACL website which has excellent resources for consumers.
Wording for all warranties provided in Australia
The Australian Consumer Law includes mandatory wording for all warranties provided in Australia. This does not include statements as to the quantum (or amount of money) of the warranty.
The mandatory text for the supply of goods is:
‘Our goods come with guarantees that cannot be excluded under the Australian Consumer Law. You are entitled to a replacement or refund for a major failure and compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the goods repaired or replaced if the goods fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure.’
If the warranty you are looking at does not include this mandatory wording you should consider whether the warranty is compliant and actually enforceable in Australia.
Neomorph takes our obligations seriously. Find our Warranty document here
OK, now my disclaimer…..I am not a lawyer, nor am I proposing to provide legal advice in relation to the warranties. This information is based on my observations from experience and participation in the industry. If anyone has any particular concerns they should consider seeking legal advice or at least consider visiting the ACL website which can offer guidance for consumers.