FTC tells window biz to close the curtain on savings claims


The Federal Trade Commission has cited five companies that sell and install replacement window that are marketed with the claim that they will substantially reduce the customer’s heating and cooling bills. The only problem, says the FTC, is that the claims are not backed up by any scientific evidence.

“Energy efficiency and cost savings are major factors for many consumers buying replacement windows,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC is committed to making sure that the information consumers get is accurate and that marketers can back up the claims they make.”

The FTC has taken advantage of the occasion to provide guidance for consumers with the publication of an education piece called “Shopping for New Windows.” It sheds light on numerous things to take into consideration when considering a purchase.

The FTC said the companies it is settling with made deceptive claims using various media outlets.  Some said consumers would cut their energy bills by 40% or 50%. It said there is no scientific basis for such a claim. It went so far as to tell them they may not even use the phrase “up to.” Unless it can be substantiated that it is within the realm of possibility that the savings following the “up to” phrase are within the realm of reasonable expectation, it is not allowable – in fact, it must be evident that most if not all buyers would achieve the maximum beneficial result cited.

The companies — Gorell Enterprises, Inc.; Long Fence & Home, LLLP; Serious Energy, Inc.; THV Holdings LLC; and Winchester Industries; are directed to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims in their marketing. There was no financial penalty included in the settlement.

RBR-TVBR observation: Once again, we breathe a sigh of relief that the FTC polices this sort of thing, not the media outlet that runs the ad.

We run ads in our publication, and if a tech company made some obscure claim about an esoteric transmitter component, we would not have the necessary competence to judge its veracity.

That said, it is a service to the audience to keep unsubstantiated marketing claims from running, so the more you know, the better. Some advertising claims should automatically raise your suspicions.

In this case, there’s nothing wrong with having quality windows installed. The marketers must learn to keep their claims within bounds – in this case, they must either do the science or find some other way to promote their wares.