Last week the Federal Trade Commission announced that five companies selling replacement windows in several states will have to stop making exaggerated, unsupported energy efficiency claims about their products – including how much money consumers could save on heating and cooling bills.
The FTC graciously acknowledged “the valuable assistance of the Washington State Attorney General's Office in the investigation of this matter.” That’s because the Washington AGO has been a ground-breaker in such cases. We’ll explain. But first, a little background.
The discounts and rebates offered by window sellers often look too good to be true. That’s because, for some companies, they are. In the last two years, the Washington State Attorney General’s Spokane Consumer Protection Section pursued statewide cases concerning Energy Exteriors, West Coast Vinyl, Harley Exteriors, Penguin Windows and Evans Glass. Every case centered on concerns related to deceptive marketing practices:
- A September, 2009 complaint against Evans Glass centered on allegedly high-pressure sales pitches, inflated pricing and nonexistent discounts.
- A July, 2010 case alleged that Energy Exteriors made unsubstantiated claims about energy savings.
- And a September, 2010 case against window manufacturer Great Lakes Windows, alleged it sponsored a bogus energy savings pledge program used by Penguin Windows which promised consumers would save about 40 percent in energy costs the first year or be paid the difference. The Attorney General’s Office reached a separate settlement with Penguin Windows earlier in the year.
We’re gratified that these investigations caught the attention of federal regulators. Our cases changed deceptive window replacement practices in Washington. The FTC cases carried that pro-consumer message across the country.