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Guarantee vs Warranty: Understanding the Key Differences

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

When it comes to making purchases, we often encounter the terms "guarantee" and "warranty." Both terms are used to assure us that the products we buy will function as expected, but there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. In this English lesson we will explore the differences between guarantees and warranties, and how to make sure you're getting the best protection for your purchases.


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Word Origins

The word "guarantee" comes from the Old French word "garantie," which means "warrant." The word "warranty," on the other hand, comes from the Old North French word "warantie," which also means "warrant." Both words have their roots in the Old High German word "wahren," which means "to protect or defend."




What is a Guarantee?

A guarantee is a promise made by the manufacturer or seller that the product will perform as expected. It is usually a statement of confidence in the product's quality and durability. Guarantees typically cover a specific time period and may include a money-back guarantee if the product does not meet the promised standards. In many cases, a guarantee is a marketing tool designed to encourage people to purchase a product by offering them reassurance that it will perform as expected.


Take a look at these examples:

  1. The company offers a money-back guarantee on all its products.

  2. He couldn't guarantee that the package would arrive on time.

  3. The seller gave us a written guarantee that the car was in good condition.

  4. The repair work comes with a one-year guarantee.


What is a Warranty?

A warranty is a legal contract between the manufacturer and the buyer that provides protection against defects or malfunctions. A warranty is usually more specific and detailed than a guarantee, and may include terms and conditions such as the length of the warranty period, what is covered, and what is not covered. Warranties are usually provided for free, but some manufacturers offer extended warranties for an additional cost.


Let's look at some examples:

  1. The phone comes with a one-year warranty.

  2. She purchased an extended warranty for her new laptop.

  3. The warranty does not cover damage caused by water.

  4. He had to return the product to the manufacturer under warranty.


Differences between a Guarantee and a Warranty

The main difference between a guarantee and a warranty is the legal aspect. A warranty is a legally binding contract between the manufacturer and the buyer, while a guarantee is simply a promise. This means that if a product fails to meet the terms of the warranty, the buyer has legal recourse to seek a repair, replacement, or refund. With a guarantee, the buyer may have less legal protection and may need to rely on the seller's goodwill to resolve any issues.


Another difference between a guarantee and a warranty is the length of coverage. Guarantees are often shorter than warranties, typically ranging from 30 to 90 days. Warranties, on the other hand, can be much longer, covering a product for several years or more. This means that warranties provide more long-term protection against defects or malfunctions.


Which One Should You Choose?

When making a purchase in the real world, it's important to understand the differences between guarantees and warranties and to choose the best option for your needs. If you're buying a product that is low-cost or has a short expected lifespan, a guarantee may be sufficient. However, for more expensive items such as electronics or appliances, a warranty can provide more protection and peace of mind. It's also important to read the terms and conditions of any warranty or guarantee carefully, so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.


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