Free Legal Assistance: Small Business Warranties

Whether your business produces a product or offers a service, you may wish to give clients and customers a warranty. Warranties are legal documents, so be sure to seek legal assistance when creating one. Though an attorney is your best bet for personalized legal assistance, you can use free legal guidance for basic information. Government agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, as well as state agencies and consumer watchdog groups, can help you create a legally valid warranty.

The Benefits of Offering a Warranty

When potential customers see that you offer a warranty, they’re more likely to buy your product or service. It tells customers that you’re confident in your product and are willing to make things right if they've had a bad experience with your product. Warranties also set a time-frame for complaints and returns. Offering a 30, 60, or 90-day warranty means that customers are less likely to try to return an item months or even years down the line. If warranties are standard in your industry, then customers will ask questions if you don't provide them. The Federal Trade Commission may be able to offer free legal counsel regarding the implications of offering a warranty, or you can seek legal assistance from an attorney.

New Technology for Warranties

Consider using online services to help you create warranties. Some offer information that’s industry specific, giving you access to free legal help that may otherwise be difficult to find. Some online services may also offer third-party warranties. If you qualify for this type of warranty, you can avoid some of the hassle of handling returns. Additionally, third-party companies may be able to give you free legal information. They can also often handle claims with minimal work on your part, making them a valuable way to outsource responsibility for a growing business.

Warranty Pitfalls

Although often a good idea, there can be drawbacks to offering warranties. The FTC, which offers free legal information on warranty creation, states that warranties should include information like the period of coverage, how to seek repairs, how to make returns, what types of problems are covered, and how state law affects the warranty. For free legal counsel about your state's consumer protection laws, contact your state's consumer protection agency. It’s important to be careful when creating your warranty. If it’s not compliant with your state's laws, you may need legal assistance to handle claims against it. Additionally, if your product is defective, a warranty may leave you vulnerable to financial liability.

Offering a warranty is an important decision for a small business owner, and you should take advantage of any available free legal tips when you create one. Using government and consumer watchdog websites, you can find examples of common clauses and language templates. But be sure to confirm that your warranty is in compliance with local and state law through state agencies.

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