Does your ReStore sell used appliances such as furnaces or gas stoves?
If the answer is yes, then your ReStore could be subject to claims of liability for subsequent malfunctions, property damage, or injuries that arise after the appliance is sold to a ReStore customer.
Along these lines, it is important to realize that malfunctioning household appliances such as furnaces can pose a fire or carbon monoxide risk. In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 170 people in the U.S. die each year from carbon monoxide produced by appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters, and room heaters.1
Check Recall Lists
In order to help ensure the safe operation of each used appliance and reduce the risk of accidents, it’s first recommended that ReStore staff review recall lists to confirm that there are no pending recalls involving any appliances received by the ReStore. Any appliances subject to recall must not be sold.
Next it’s recommended that a qualified technician inspect the appliances before being put up for sale to the public. any appliances that do not pass the technician’s inspection must not be sold.
The Implied Warranty
Once an appliance passes a complete inspection by a qualified technician, it’s just about ready to be offered for sale to the public. However, there is still a risk of liability on the part of the ReStore resulting from what’s called an “implied warranty of merchantability”. This kind of warranty is, in general terms, an understood promise or expectation that the appliance will be in good condition when sold and can be used as expected by the customer.
In order to address the potential liability, it’s strongly recommended that anyone purchasing these appliances be required by ReStore staff to sign a liability waiver holding your ReStore, Affiliate and HFHI harmless for any damage or accidents that result from use of the appliance, and disclaiming all warranties. Consult an attorney within your state with respect to drafting such a waiver, as it will be subject of course to your state’s laws and regulations.
If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact the Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Insurance Program at (888) 553-9002, or the HFHI U.S. Safety Specialist, Don Hartle, at (404) 420-6730. Thank you for your dedication to safety!
1 Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Carbon Monoxide Questions and Answers”, http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/466.html  [online]. Accessed December 13, 2011.