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More Appliance Listings Missing Energy Efficiency Information


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15 November 2011, 8:46 PM
Earthjustice again calls on FTC to bring enforcement action against online retailers
What a listing for a freezer on Newegg's website should also tell you, but doesn’t, is that the freezer uses so much energy that it will cost you around $90 each year just to run.

Back in July, I wrote about the lengths to which shoppers sometimes have to go in order to find legally required energy efficiency information about appliances for sale online. In response, more than 10,000 of you wrote in supporting our petition telling the Federal Trade Commission to require online retailers to display that information front and center in their product listings.

Unfortunately, some retailers still have not got the message that this information is important to consumers. While some retailers continue to bury energy efficiency information in hard-to-find places on their websites, others don't provide it at all.

Take, for example, Newegg. The 12th largest online retailer in the country according to Internet Retailer, it lists this Haier freezer for $679. The listing says the freezer “meets your food storage needs, whether your goal is to save money buying grocery items in bulk, or you're looking to preserve in-season fruits, vegetables, or meat.”

What the listing should also tell you, but doesn’t, is that the freezer uses so much energy that it will cost you around $90 each year just to run. No model in its class has been less efficient than that since at least 2007. That additional cost of 13 percent each year should be disclosed on Newegg’s website, but it isn’t. And it's not as if Newegg can't find this information: Haier posts a copy of the model’s Energy Guide label (which understates most products' energy costs by almost 10 percent) on its website, and other retailers post that label clearly when they list the model.

We wrote to Newegg in August, on behalf of our client Public Citizen, to alert them that required information appeared to be missing from this listing, along with dozens of others. Nearly three months have gone by, and the company has neither fixed the problem nor responded to our letter.

Earlier this week, we gave up waiting for Newegg to respond and sent a letter to FTC asking the agency to initiate enforcement action against Newegg. The letter also asks FTC to take action against BJ’s Wholesale Club, which likewise failed to respond our efforts and continues to list products without providing the required information.

This letter follows a similar complaint we lodged with FTC in September after Target failed to make good on in its promises to make sure all listings had the required information. Even though we thoroughly documented the alleged violations and the warnings we'd given Target, FTC has yet to take action and many of Target’s listings continue to lack this information.

Now let's hope the Commission does its job and follows through.

If you want to help nudge the Commission along, or you’ve recently been shopping for a refrigerator, freezer, room air conditioner, dishwasher or clothes washer online and have been unable to find the energy efficiency for that product, send us a message or fill out the Commission’s online complaint assistant.

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