Hoping to encourage window sellers to be transparent in their marketing, the Washington State attorney generals office reached a settlement this week with Mukilteo-based Penguin Windows.
Our case alleged that Penguins claims just didnt fly, said Assistant Attorney General Jack Zurlini. Our agreement sets out in black and white the acceptable marketing practices in the window sales industry and those bad practices that will put companies on thin ice.
In its complaint, the attorney generals office accused Penquin of misrepresenting its products, making false claims about the energy savings customers would achieve, and misleading consumers into thinking that the in-home appointments they set up with Penguin were something other than sales calls.
Penguin denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement filed in King County Superior Court but agreed to restrictions on its marketing tactics.
Penguin Windows also does business as Statewide Energy Systems, Statewide Home Improvement, Statewide Vinyl, Statewide Windows and Statewide Window and Siding.
The states complaint says Penguins advertisement claims that its windows would save homeowners at least 40 percent on their monthly heating and cooling bills are false and that Penguin had no reasonable basis to support them. The attorney generals office alleged that the companys practice of asking homeowners to sign a letter agreeing not to cancel the sale interferes with a law that gives customers three business days to cancel a sale made during an in-home presentation.
Penguin agreed to terms that include prohibiting it from making misrepresentations to gain entry into a home, failing to substantiate advertising claims, interfering with cancellation rights and continuing in-home sales presentations after a customer has clearly stated that he or she wishes it to end.
The attorney generals office agreed to suspend $25,000 in civil penalties provided Penguin abides with consumer protection laws in the future. The company will pay $95,000 in attorneys fees and legal costs.
The case is similar to one the AG settled in September 2009 with Evans Glass, of Seattle. The offices Consumer Protection Division sent letters to more than 30 window and home siding installation businesses last fall, as part of an effort to educate them about high-pressure pitches, inflated prices and fraudulent endorsements that are illegal and have the potential to damage the industrys reputation.