Dear Consumer Ed: 

I took my car to a mechanic for repairs. I chose the business based on an advertisement in a local magazine, which stated that there was a 6-month warranty on all engine jobs.  The car cost over $2200 to repair.  After I had the car for 3 weeks, it broke down. Now the shop states that they will fix it, but I will be charged for labor. Do I have any recourse in this situation?

Consumer Ed says: 

It depends on what the advertisement in the magazine actually stated about the warranty, and what terms were in your service agreement with the mechanic.  If the warranty only covered parts, then you would still have to pay for labor.  If the warranty covered parts and labor or just labor, then you shouldn’t have to pay for labor, and might have a breach of contract claim against the mechanic.  Even if you don’t have a clear breach of contract claim (for example, you didn’t have a written service agreement, or the warranty terms in the agreement were ambiguous as to what was covered), you could still have a valid legal claim if the mechanic promised a warranty on labor in the advertisement.

If the advertisement about the warranty didn’t clearly say what it would cover, the mechanic may have engaged in an unfair and deceptive business practice, which is prohibited by Georgia’s Fair Business Practice Act (“FBPA”). In keeping with the FBPA, all advertisements should be in plain language, truthful and accurate, and free of express or implied claims that misrepresent or are otherwise deceptive.  Additionally, any necessary qualifying information must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the ad.  If you believe that the ad for the warranty was deceptive, you can submit a complaint to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling 404-651-8600, or visiting our interactive website at www.consumer.ga.gov.

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