FOR RELEASE: JANUARY 28, 1993
THE HECHINGER COMPANY WILL SETTLE CHARGES IT FAILED TO GIVE CONSUMERS REQUIRED DATA ABOUT INSULATING ABILITY OF HOME-INSULATION PRODUCTS
The Hechinger Company, a major retailer of home-improvement products in the Washington, D.C.-area, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it failed to make certain disclosures in its advertising for home-insulation products as required by the FTC's R-value Rule. A proposed consent decree settling these charges would prohibit Hechinger from violating the rule in the future and require the firm to pay a civil penalty of $40,000. The FTC's R-value Rule requires that the R-value (a measure of resistance to heat flow) and other relevant information for home-insulation products be disclosed in ads when certain claims are made. The rule also requires R-value disclosures at the point of sale and on product labels, to ensure consumers have necessary information to make cost-effective choices among competing products. Further, the rule requires that a fact sheet containing additional information be made available to consumers before they make their purchases.
According to the Commission's complaint, Hechinger had violated the rule by stating in advertisements:
-- an R-value, but failing to disclose the type of insulation, the thickness needed to get that R-value, and/or the required statement explaining R-values that is set forth in the rule;
-- a price, but failing to disclose the R-value at a specific thickness, the required statement explaining R- values set forth in the rule, and/or the coverage area for that thickness; and - more -
-- an insulation thickness, but failing to disclose the R- value at that thickness and/or the required statement explaining R-values set forth in the rule.
The FTC charged also that some of Hechinger's ads stated or implied that insulation can cut fuel bills or fuel use but failed to include the rule's required statement that savings vary and that the consumer should see the seller's fact sheet for further information about energy savings. In addition, Hechinger allegedly failed to make fact sheets available to consumers as required by the rule.
The Hechinger Company is a Delaware corporation with its home office in Landover, Maryland. The complaint and proposed consent decree were filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, in Baltimore, by the Department of Justice, on behalf of the FTC, on Jan. 27. The consent decree is subject to court approval.
NOTE: A consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the complaint and proposed consent decree will be available soon from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room. 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY 1-866-653-4261.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Howard Shapiro, Office of Public Affairs, 202-326-2176
STAFF CONTACT: Kent C. Howerton, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3013 or Elaine D. Kolish, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3042
(Civil Action No. -- not available at press time)
(FTC File No. 912 3294)