The FTC's Rule on Pre-Sale Availability of Written Warranty Terms requires that written warranties on consumer products costing more than $15 be available to consumers before they buy. The Rule has provisions that specify what retailers, including mail order, catalog, and door-to-door sellers, must do to accomplish this. The Rule also specifies what manufacturers must do so that sellers can meet their obligations under the Rule.
What Retailers Must Do
If you sell directly to consumers who come to your place of business to buy, you must make written warranties available at the point of sale. You must do this with all written warranties on the products you sell warranties from manufacturers, as well as any written warranties you extend.
The Pre-Sale Availability Rule requires that sellers make warranties readily available to prospective buyers either by displaying them in close proximity to the warranted products, or by furnishing them upon request prior to sale and posting prominent signs to let customers know that warranties can be examined upon request. The Rule does not specify any particular method for fulfilling its requirements. For example, an appliance retailer might post a refrigerator warranty on the front of the appliance, or in the freezer compartment. Or, a retailer of small products, such as watches or electric razors, might keep the warranties readily available behind the counter, or keep them indexed in a binder near the warranted products, and post signs stating their availability. Any of these methods is acceptable.
What Mail Order Companies Must Do
If you accept orders for warranted consumer products through the mail or by telephone, your catalog or other advertising must include either the warranty or a statement telling consumers how to get a copy. This information should be near the product description or clearly noted on a separate page. If you choose the latter, you must provide a page reference to the warranty statement near the product description.
What Door-to Door Sales Companies Must Do
If you sell warranted products to consumers in their homes, or in some place other than your place of business, you must offer the customer copies of the written warranties before the sale is completed.
What Manufacturers Must Do
If you are a manufacturer and offer written warranties, you must provide retailers of your product with the warranty materials they will need to meet their requirements as described above. There are any number of ways to do this, including: providing copies of the warranty to be placed in a binder; providing warranty stickers, tags, signs, or posters; or printing the warranty on your product's packaging. As long as you have provided retailers with the warranty materials they need to comply with the rule, you are not legally responsible if they fail to make your warranties available.