I bought an appliance in a department store, which turned out to be defective. We went back to the store to complain about the defect. The officer-in-charge got the item and told us to expect a feedback within the week because they have to consult their supplier regarding the matter. Is there a chance that the item will not be replaced?
It is stated under the Civil Code that by “contract of sale” one of the contracting parties obligates himself to transfer the ownership and to deliver a determinate thing, and the other to pay therefore a certain price in money or its equivalent (Article 1458, Civil Code). Here, the vendor has the obligation to transfer the ownership of and deliver, as well as warrant the thing thatis the object of the sale. The vendee, on the other hand, is obliged to accept delivery and to pay the price of the thing sold at the time and place stipulated in the contract (Articles 1495, 1582, Ibid.).
As to warranty given by sellers to the thing sold, the seller guarantees that he has a right to sell the thing at the time when the ownership is to pass, and that the buyer shall from that time has and enjoy the legal and peaceful possession of the thing. The seller also assures that the thing shall be free from any hidden faults or defects, or any charge or encumbrance not declared or known to the buyer (Article 1547, Id.).
Accordingly, when the seller has not complied with the warranties abovementioned, the buyer, may, at his election: (1) accept or keep the goods and set up against the seller, the breach of warranty by way of recouping in diminution or extinction of the price; (2) accept or keep the goods and maintain an action against the seller for damages for the breach of warranty; (3) refuse to accept the goods, and maintain an action against the seller for damages for the breach of warranty; (4) rescind the contract of sale and refuse to receive the goods or if the goods have already been received, return them or offer to return them to the seller and recover the price or any part thereof that has been paid for (Article 1599,Id.).
In your case, the department store, when it sold the appliance to you, assures that the same is functional and free from any hidden defect. Thus, if the appliance is defective, which you were not aware thereof at the time it was sold to you, you may enforce your right as mentioned under Article 1599 of the Civil Code. The department store, being the seller, cannot pass its liability to the supplier of the appliance because the seller is the party obliged to give warranty. The supplier cannot be liable to the buyer, because he is merely a stranger or third person to the contract of sale between you and the department store. A contrario, the remedy mentioned is not available to you if at the time of the sale you knew of the defect, or it is obvious or apparent.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com