How does a service contract work with a warranty?

QUESTION: How does a service contract work with a warranty?

ANSWER: A service contract is an optional agreement for product service that customers sometimes buy. It provides additional protection beyond what the warranty offers on the product. Service contracts are similar to warranties in that both concern service for a product. However, there are differences between warranties and service contracts.

Warranties come with a product and are included in the purchase price. In the language of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, warranties are “part of the basis of the bargain.” Service contracts, on the other hand, are agreements that are separate from the contract or sale of the product. They are separate either because they are made some time after the sale of the product, or because they cost the customer a fee beyond the purchase price of the product.

If a manufacturer offers a service contract, the Act requires the manufacturer to conspicuously list all terms and conditions in simple and readily understood language. However, unlike warranties, service contracts are not required to be titled “full” or “limited,’ or to contain the special standard disclosures. In fact, using warranty disclosures in service contracts could confuse customers about whether the agreement is a warranty or a service contract.  

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