You might have warranty protection even after a product’s manufacturer’s warranty expires. An obscure consumer protection called the “implied warranty of merchantability” gives consumers the right to demand a refund, replacement or repair when an item fails to work properly for a “reasonable” period. Another consumer protection called the “implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose” protects consumers who are told a product will serve a purpose, but it does not.

These warranty protections are written into the laws of every state and Washington, DC—but in many states, there’s a loophole that restricts their use. Merchants and manufacturers can “disclaim” implied warranties, opting to not have them apply to their products. This generally is done by “conspicuously” disclosing in writing that the item is being sold “as is” or “with all faults” or by noting in the manufacturer or retailer warranty that “all other warranty coverage is excluded.” Big corporations often take advantage of this loophole, but smaller companies might not.

Some states, such as Maine, Maryland and Massachusetts, generally do not let sellers or manufacturers disclaim implied warranties, so if you bought the item there, the odds are very good that you have implied warranty protection. In other states, review seller and manufacturer websites as well as product warranties, packaging and sales literature, if possible, to see if the implied warranty was disclaimed. Or contact your state’s attorney general’s office (NAAG.org) or consumer-protection department (USA.gov/state-consumer) for details about your state’s implied warranty laws.

If you believe that implied warranty protections might apply to your purchase, contact or visit the seller’s customer service department and explain that you want to return the item for a refund, replacement or repair under the state’s implied warranty laws.

If you get no satisfaction, file a complaint against the seller with your state’s attorney general’s office or consumer-protection department. If your case is strong, a mediator from this government agency might contact the retailer on your behalf, which often leads to a resolution.