Guitar-maker Gibson Brands, Inc. faces a proposed class action over its alleged failure to include required disclosures in the warranty registration forms that come with its products.
According to the lawsuit, California law requires manufacturers who provide a physical or online warranty or product registration card or form to include statements informing the customer that the card or form is for product registration and that their failure to complete and return the card or form does not diminish their warranty rights.
Per the case, Gibson’s apparent failure to include these required statements on both its physical and online warranty registration forms has the effect of chilling customers’ warranty claims given they are led to believe that they do not have warranty rights unless they provide their personal information on the form. Alternatively, the suit claims that if customers’ warranty rights do hinge on their return of the warranty registration form, this requirement was not disclosed at the time of purchase and the consumers have thus been deceived into purchasing products they may not have otherwise bought.
The plaintiff, an Orange County, California resident, says he purchased in July 2020 a Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro V Mahogany Top Electric Guitar for about $1,700 from a Lake Forest Guitar Center. Per the suit, the plaintiff was led to believe that the guitar came with a warranty, “as any reasonable consumer would for this type of costly piece of musical instrument,” and did not see any disclaimers or notifications informing him that any “special steps” would be required to activate the warranty.
Upon opening the packaging, however, the plaintiff discovered a warranty registration form titled “Gibson Gold Warranty” that asked him to provide his personal information, including his name, address, email address, telephone number and “extremely pointed demographic and marketing” information, within 15 days of purchase “to assure warranty coverage,” the suit alleges.
Per the case, the plaintiff was “surprised” that he had to fill out the form in order to receive the benefits of the warranty, a requirement that had allegedly not been disclosed to him prior to his purchase.
“This is not what Plaintiff reasonably expected at the time of purchase, nor what Plaintiff bargained for,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit alleges Gibson failed to inform the plaintiff that the warranty registration form was for product registration, and that his failure to complete the form would not dimmish his warranty rights. Moreover, the suit says the defendant’s online warranty registration form, found through a link titled “Warranty Registration & Info” on Gibson’s website, failed to contain the required information prior to June 21, 2021. The lawsuit alleges that Gibson, in response to the plaintiff’s demand for corrective action served at the Lake Forest Guitar Center on that date, changed its online registration form to include the phrase, “Failure to register your product purchase will not diminish your warranty rights.”
The case alleges Gibson uses the information collected from customers through the registration forms for “its own business and marketing purposes and for its own economic benefit.” Further, Gibson intends for the warranty registration requirement to have a “chilling effect” on customers’ warranty claims, thus decreasing the amount Gibson must pay in warranty repair and administration expenses, the lawsuit attests.
“Defendant has no right to access personal customer information through warranty registration for these purposes, by not making the legally mandated disclosures to customers,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit, initially filed in Orange County, California Superior Court, was removed to the state’s Central District Court on September 21.
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