Life of long-term warranty often depends on life of the company behind the warranty

Darrell Bash felt good about his roof warranty until he learned the roofing company that backed the warranty was sold. KOMO photo

Having a long-term warranty can offer peace of mind when you make a major purchase. But what happens when the company that issued the warranty get sold to someone else?

When Darrell Bash and his wife bought a home in Bothell in 2014, the high-quality roof on the home was only 7 years old.

As a bonus, the sellers had a lifetime warranty on the roof workmanship and the warranty was transferable. Bash said that was one of the features promoted by the real estate agent.

"That was one of the selling points of buying this house, that we would get a transferred warranty," said Bash. "They wouldn't give us a lifetime warranty, but they would give us the 5 year warranty."

Bash said as a condition of the warranty transfer, he had to have the roof fully inspected by the roofing company that installed the roof when he purchased the home.

"I had to jump through some hoops, sign some paperwork, send it in. and, then I got a certificate."

Fast-forward to last December.

Darrell was in the garage attic and noticed a wet, moldy spot on the insulation. He's sure there's a leak but says it's difficult to locate the source. So he called the roofing company.

Bash expected the roofing company to honor the warranty. But he hit a snag.

Between the time the Bashes purchased the house and the time they discovered the leak, Ted Jorve- the owner of Jorve Roofing, which installed the roof- retired, and sold his business to a competitor- Guardian Roofing.

Guardian also bought the Jorve name.

"We didn't know the company had been sold, so this was a big surprise for us," Darrell Bash said.

A message posted on the Jorve website last April explains the transition, saying Guardian's proven track record made it the best "go-to" company to take care of Jorve customers moving forward."

But Guardian Roofing only purchased Jorve's assets, the trucks, equipment, and the Jorve name. Jorve and Guardian also emphasize that Guardian retained the employment of some 20 Jorve employees.

In a written statement, Guardian's owner, Lori Swanson told KOMO news in part, that "Guardian's acquisition of Jorve's assets did not make Guardian responsible for its liabilities, including its warranties."

Washington state law and past court rulings agree. With few exceptions, when corporation A buys corporation B, A is not responsible for B's debts and liabilities.

Bash says he understands now that it would probably be too much for a roofing company to take on the past liabilities of a business they purchased. But he's frustrated that he put so much faith in the transferable warranty.

"It's probably going to be around a thousand dollars or more just to fix a minor leak," said Bash. "I'll have to fix it myself. or hire somebody else to come out."

It's a tough reminder that a warranty might not be a guarantee at all, if the company behind the warranty no longer exists.

The same rule applies when companies offer long-term services such as lifetime oil changes. The term 'lifetime' typically applies to the life of the business ownership.

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