Target Withholds Appliance Efficiency Information from Consumers

Earthjustice calls on FTC to fine Target for non-compliance


Jon Wiener, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500 ext. 211

Earthjustice today calls on the Federal Trade Commission to initiate enforcement action against Target Corporation and fine the company for its failure to comply with energy efficiency labeling rules.

FTC’s Appliance Labeling Rule requires online retailers to display energy efficiency information on listings of most household appliances. Since at least January 28, 2011, Target has been selling room air conditioners and other appliances on its website without displaying this important information. Many of these products cost as much to run as they do to buy in the first place.

Earthjustice notified Target of these violations in April, in a certified letter on behalf of Public Citizen, and called on the company to bring its listings into compliance within 60 days. Similar letters to more than a dozen other retailers have spurred action, with companies promptly bringing hundreds and hundreds of webpages into compliance. Target, by contrast, claimed it would fix the problem on its redesigned website which launched last month, yet problems still persist.

“Energy efficiency information can alert consumers to hidden costs and help them find ways to reduce their energy use,” said Jon Wiener, Earthjustice attorney. “While other major retailers have worked hard to comply with the rule, Target has stalled and ignored its responsibilities to customers.”

Retailers can comply with the labeling rule by either linking to a product’s black-and-yellow Energy Guide or, for products other than televisions, by providing an estimate of the electricity cost an average consumer would have to pay to use the product for a year and an explanation of how it was calculated. Earthjustice recently collected nearly 10,000 signatures in support of a petition to FTC asking the agency to make changes to the rule that would require retailers to more prominently display the Energy Guide label for all appliances.

Violations of the rule are subject to fines of $110 per violation per day. In the last year, FTC has fined four retailers a combined $640,000 for failure to comply. Target’s violations include eight listings of room air conditioners and 63 listings of televisions.

Target sold more appliances than all but nine other retailers in 2010. Its web presence placed it 22 in total online retail sales among all retailers.

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