WHY A WARRANTY?
How prevalent do you think warranties are today? Try typing the word “warranty” into a popular search engine. We did, and in less than a second over one and a quarter billion results were returned. Not only are we living in a culture driven by consumerism, but we are also living in a society of sophisticated consumers who expect sellers to guarantee the performance of the products they consume. Buyers have not always held sellers to such a standard.
In ancient Rome caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) was the principle that characterized most transactions. Even as early as 450 B.C., however, buyers and sellers could stipulate to a promise of quality in the goods being sold. Moreover, sharp practices by sellers of beasts of burden and cattle were so prevalent around the last century B.C. that Roman dealers were duty bound to disclose any defects that existed in the animals and could be held liable for damages for any later discovered, undisclosed defects.
In medieval times, particularly in France, Germany, and England, these warranties were replaced by governmental regulations. Products were required to conform to government-imposed standards of fitness and quality. By the eighteenth century, however, the English courts, whose common law is the basis for our American system of justice, began interpreting the merchants’ laws in a manner that tended to favor merchants over consumers. The liberalism of the era that influenced much of the western world emphasized individualism and self-reliance. English courts were reluctant to protect any buyer who was foolish enough not to ascertain the quality of the goods he purchased.
This sentiment took hold in the newly formed United States and prevailed until the early twentieth century, when the second industrial revolution transformed America from a sleepy, mostly agricultural society to an industrial juggernaut. Advances in steel, chemical and electrical production allowed American companies to mass produce consumer goods in ways and volumes that the world had never seen. The explosion in buying and selling resulted in more complaints about the quality of goods. State after state reacted by passing the Uniform Sales Act (the precursor of the Uniform Commercial Code), which made buyer friendly warranties far more common. Thereafter every state enacted consumer protection laws that apply to many different kinds of transactions.
Today Americans spend nearly 4 trillion dollars annually on durable goods and housing, and modern Americans expect the products they buy to perform as expected. This warranty mindset is reinforced daily by televised offers of “money back if you’re not completely satisfied” and written warranties on everything from batteries to baseball bats, from yachts to yo-yos, from ukuleles to…well…you get the idea. Modern consumers expect the makers of the goods they buy to stand behind their products.
The network news likes to paint these as divisive times in America. But one common desire runs through the hearts of most Americans, regardless of their political beliefs or socioeconomic condition. Most Americans want to own their own home, many of those Americans want to build their dream home, and all of those Americans expect their builders to stand behind and warrant the performance of those homes. And that’s where we come in.
At RWC, we know home warranties, and we should. We have been in the home warranty business for nearly four decades and have issued and administered warranties on more than three million homes! We offer a wide variety of warranty options, from the standard ten year warranty to our Day 1 coverage warranty, from our extended appliance and system warranties to our specialty warranties for remodeling projects, detached garages, and commercial construction. Only RWC has developed and offers its members a customized state warranty that mirrors each state’s statute of repose and accommodates other state specific issues. And all of our warranties provide clear performance standards that help create realistic expectations in your homeowners and provide a road map to resolving even the stickiest customer complaints.
At RWC, every guarantee our warranties make is backed by Western Pacific Mutual Insurance Company, RRG. Western Pacific has an A- rating from A. M. Best and only insures home warranty and similar new home construction risks, like builders’ general liability, that can be offered through the RWC Insurance Advantage program to RWC members. No other warranty company can boast an insurer with this kind of strength that is solely dedicated to covering builders and warranting the performance of their homes. Our pleasant customer service staff is dedicated to making your interactions with RWC as smooth as possible, and our veteran warranty resolution team will handle your customers’ claims with care.
Your customers expect a warranty when they buy their homes from you, and your customers deserve nothing but the best! Give them the best. Give them an RWC warranty!
Have a great spring!