PRODUCT WARRANTIES, SERVICE CONTRACTS — TRUST BUT VERIFY
When you purchase or lease equipment for your medical practice, it is supposed to work and be fit for its intended purpose. These words are more than just common sense, they are also “implied warranties” according to the Uniform Commercial Code. By title, they are known as  a warranty of “merchantability” and  a warranty of “fit for a particular purpose”.
Prior to their implementation, the sale of goods and services operated in the wild world of “caveat emptor” – buyer beware.
Today, the world of commerce is all good, honest and true …. or is it?
These two implied warranties are rather thin and vague in their definitions and leave ample room for disagreement as to what specifically might be, or not be, covered.
As a buyer, we rely on equipment, its manufacturer and its seller. If the equipment works perfectly, all is well; but what if it does not? What recourse is available?
In addition to the UCC implied warranties, the manufacturer, sometimes the seller (and some credit cards), offer additional remedies.
 Expressed Warranty — as part of the purchase price, the manufacturer and/or seller hereby state exactly what is promised and in some cases, NOT promised (known as “disclaimers”). Most always this warranty is for a specific time period.
 Extended Warranty (also known as a “Service Contract”) — for an additional fee, the manufacturer and/or seller hereby states exactly what is, and is not, promised. Most often this too is for a specific time period that begins AFTER the original warranty expires. (But not always. Be alert for overlapping dates.)
 Maintenance Agreement – for an additional fee, the seller provides a service to regularly examine and keep your equipment in its best possible working order.
These promises of future performance all assume that the manufacturer or seller will be in business then. Beware of prepaying too much.
Also, as Peter Drucker, famed business leader advised, “beware of what is not being said.”
Trust but verify. The warranties and service agreements are only as good as the companies behind them.
 Read the warranties before you buy. Some specific components to know:
- Who to contact?
- What if the product fails?
- “Consequential damage”? (Damage caused by the equipment malfunction)
- Conditions and limitations?
 Research the manufacturer and seller on line. What kind of reputation do they have?
 Can you cancel your service agreement at anytime? (Beware, sometimes this carries a fee.) Would it include a refund?
Technology is accelerating the design and functionality of almost all manufactured items. This does not always mean that new is better, but it does mean that new is different.
 Evaluate the need for service and/or maintenance agreements. Is your machine still being serviced? Are parts still available?
Though the Uniform Commercial Code and other laws have replaced the wild world of “buyer beware”, goods and services are sometimes less than promised and there are purveyors of lesser caliber, too.
Remedies exist, but “buyer beware”. They too can be deceptive and deficient. At the least, in your equipment purchase decisions, “trust but verify” the warranties offered and their source.
Steve Gatter is an advocate and adviser to solopreneurs. His website is www.underdog704.com
Dale Brodsky, Founder & Owner of Fundus Photo — provides a broad range of ophthalmic imaging equipment and Fundus Photo’s “NewVision Ophthalmic Imaging Suite”, software designed specifically for ophthalmic imaging and image management.