TARR - The Uniform Commercial Code or UCC has been enacted in all 50 states and
some of the territories of the United States. It is the primary source of law in
all contracts dealing with the sale of products. The TARR refers to Tender,
Acceptance, Rejection, Revocation and applies to different aspects of the
consumer's "relationship" with the purchased goods.
TENDER-The tender provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code contained in
Section2-601 provide that the buyer is entitled to reject any goods that fail in
any respect to conform to the contract. Unfortunately, new cars are often
technically complex and their innermost workings are beyond the understanding of
the average new car buyer. The buyer, therefore, does not know whether the goods
are then conforming.
ACCEPTANCE-The new car buyer accepts the goods believing and expecting that
the manufacturer will repair any problem he has with the goods under the
REJECTION-The new car buyer may discover a problem with the vehicle within
the first few miles of his purchase. This would allow the new car buyer to
reject the goods. If the new car buyer discovers a defect in the car within a
reasonable time to inspect the vehicle, he may reject the vehicle. This period
is not defined. On the one hand, the buyer must be given a reasonable time to
inspect and that reasonable time to inspect will be held as an acceptance of the
vehicle. The Courts will decide this reasonable time to inspect based on the
knowledge and experience of the buyer, the difficulty in discovering the defect,
and the opportunity to discover the defect.
The following is an example of a case of rejection: Mr. Zabriskie purchase a
new 1966 Chevrolet Biscayne. After picking up the car on Friday evening, while
en route to his home 2.5 miles away, and within 7/10ths of a mile from the
dealership, the car stalled and stalled again within 15 feet. Thereafter, the
car would only drive in low gear. The buyer rejected the vehicle and stopped
payment on his check. The dealer contended that the buyer could not reject the
car because he had driven it around the the block and that was his reasonable
opportunity to inspect. The New Jersey Court said;
To the layman, the complicated mechanisms of today's automobile are a
complete mystery.To have the automobile inspected by someone with sufficient
expertise to disassemble the vehicle in order the discover latent defects before
the contract is signed, is assuredly impossible and highly impractical.
Consequently, the first few miles of driving become even more significant to the
excited new car buyer. This is the buyer's first reasonable opportunity to enjoy
his new vehicle to see if it conforms to what it was represented to be and
whether he is getting what he bargained for. How long the buyer may drive the
new car under the guise of inspection of new goods is not an issue in the
present case because 7/10th of a mile is clearly within the ambit of a
reasonable opportunity to inspect. Zabriskie Chevrolet, Inc.v. Smith, 240 A. 2d
It is suggested that Courts will tend to excuse use by consumers if possible.
REVOCATION- What happens when the consumer has used the new car for a lengthy
period of time? This is the typical lemon car case. The UCC provides that a
buyer may revoke his acceptance of goods whose non-conformity substantially
impairs the value of the goods to him when he has accepted the goods without
discovery of a non-conformity because it was difficult to discover or if he was
assured that non-conformities would be repaired. Of course, the average new car
buyer does not learn of the nonconformity until hundreds of thousands of miles
later. And because quality is job one, and manufacturers are competing on the
basis of their warranties, the consumer always is assured that any
noncomformities he does discover will be remedied.
What is a noncomformity substantially impairing the value of the vehicle?
1) A noncomformity may include a number of relatively minor defects
whose cumulative total adds up to a substantial impairment. This si the "Shake
Faith" Doctrine first stated in the Zabrisikie case. "For a majority of people
the purchase of a new car is a major investment, rationalized by the peace of
mind that flows from its dependability and safety. Once their faith is shaken,
the vehicle loses not only its real value in their eyes, but becomes an
instrument whose integrity is substantially impaired and whose operation is
fraught with apprehension".
Editorial provided by:T. Michael Flinn
2) A substantial noncomformity may include a failure or refusal to repair the
goods under the warranty. In Durfee V. Rod Baxter Imports, the Minnesota Court
held that the Saab owner that was plagued by a series of of annoying minor
defects and stalling, which were never repaired after a number of attempts,
could revoke, "if repairs are not successfully undertaken within a reasonable
time", the consumer may elect to revoke.
Substantial Non Conformity and Lemon Laws often define what may be considered
a substantial impairment. These definitions have been successfully used to flesh
out the substantial impairment in the UCC.