FTC Puts Heat on Web Energy Advertisers
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The Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letters to more than 50 companies it claims is deceptively selling products over the Internet that purport to save energy. While most of the warnings were targeted at marketers of automotive gadgets and additives, additional warnings addressed Internet marketers of purported energy-saving products for the home.
The letters reminded the advertisers that they need scientific substantiation for their energy-saving claims and provided them with additional advertising guidance. The FTC advised the recipients that they may be subject to law enforcement action if they make deceptive claims in the future.
"Our message to industry is that false or inflated energy-saving claims will not be tolerated. Our message to consumers is that they should be skeptical of dramatic fuel-savings claims for automotive and other products," said J. Howard Beales, III, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The Internet warning letters are part of the FTC's continuing law enforcement efforts to combat deceptive energy-saving claims. Late last month, the Commission approved a consent order with Kryton Coatings International and Procraft, Inc., which claimed that their "liquid siding" provides insulation equivalent to seven inches of fiberglass batting and R-20, and reduces utility bills up to 40 percent. In November 2001, the Commission obtained a consent decree resolving charges that Esrim Ve Sheva Holding Corp. (Gadget Universe) and its chief executive officer made false and unsubstantiated claims for Super FuelMAX, an automotive fuel-line magnet (e.g., "A certified EPA laboratory reports an amazing 27% in increased mileage and 42% reduction in harmful pollutants").
The current warning letters involved the following types of products:
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has evaluated or tested more than 100 purported gas-saving devices and additives, and has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage.