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FTC Fines Online Retailers for Failure to Post EnergyGuide Information
Three online appliance retailers have agreed to pay more than $400,000 in total penalties to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they failed to post EnergyGuide information, the FTC announced November 1. The agency also notified two other online sellers that it would seek a total of $640,000 in fines from them. The FTC used its authority under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) to assess civil penalties.
According to the FTC, the online appliance retailers knowingly violated the FTC's Appliance Labeling Rule, which requires vendors to provide EnergyGuide information for refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air conditioners, water heaters, and washing machines. The yellow EnergyGuide information labels provide estimates of the annual cost to operate an appliance, and they are designed to help consumer make energy efficient choices. Three companies have settled with the agency and agreed to pay the following amounts: P.C. Richard & Son, Inc., $180,000; Abt Electronics, Inc., $137,500; and Pinnacle Marketing Group, Corp., $100,000. Two other companies, Universal Computers and Electronics, Inc. with proposed penalties of $540,000, and Universal Appliances, Kitchens, and Baths, Inc., with $100,000 in penalties, have not agreed to settle the FTC charges. These penalty cases are the first the agency has brought against online retailers for Appliance Labeling Rule violations.
Before the FTC may assess civil penalties under the EPCA, it must notify the non-settling companies of the proposed penalty amounts. The companies can then choose to pay the proposed penalty or be sued by the FTC in an administrative proceeding. See the FTC press release and the FTC Web site.