A wave of class action lawsuits has been launched against manufacturers in the US after their products were found to be less efficient than claimed under America’s highly popular Energy Star label. Such legal action is seen as a healthy form of civic enforcement and a vital extra to government intervention, according to American consumer advocates. Problems with goods often come from changes to components or quality of materials that impact energy performance. Such was the case in a recent UK example. LG, Samsung and Whirlpool have faced class-action suits over products that fell out of compliance. Now, two Congressmen with interests in the issue have sponsored a bill to ban class actions if the authorities managed to procure a remedy. This is a rehash of a New York Times article.
Fridges that were less efficient than claimed on the box have been removed form the market. A single model made by Glen Dimplex Home Appliances was found to use on average 14.5% more energy than declared on its A+ energy label, a notch higher than it’s real performance. Over a thousand models entered the market before the UK National Measurement Office stepped in. An NMO statement says that Dimplex’s Middle Eastern supplier made changes without considering energy impact. The firm moved to head off the problem and made a voluntary donation to a green charity. For MarketWatch, this again shows the value of effective market surveillance. Honest firms can be selling models with unreal performance claims. Sadly, many national authorities are under-resourced, something pointed out in a recent report for the European Commission. For more information on the case, click here.
MarketWatch will soon purchase a number of white goods across Europe and put them through rigorous lab tests. Will their official energy labels stand up to scrutiny? We’ll see. Lab tests are long, time-consuming and expensive. So to help focus in on the most suspicious models, we are developing a screening procedure for use on the ground by civil society investigators. We need an expert review of this document to help ensure we really do knuckle down on the most suspicious models and deliver results that can be used by formal market surveillance authorities. The tender closes 23 July. For more details, click here.