Wash. window company agrees to greater transparency in sales

Nick Rees Mar. 2, 2010, 10:00am


SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, as part of an ongoing effort to encourage transparency in the marketing of window sales, has reached a settlement agreement with Penguin Windows.

The Mukilteo, Wash.-based Penguin Windows was alleged to have misrepresented its products, made false claims about energy savings customers would achieve and mislead consumers into thinking that in-home appointments set up with Penguin were something other than sales calls.

Other names under which Penguin does business include Statewide Energy Systems, Statewide Home Improvement, Statewide Vinyl, Statewide Windows and Statewide Window and Siding.

"Our case alleged that Penguin's claims just didn't fly," Assistant Attorney General Jack Zurlini said. "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."

Penguin, in agreeing to restrictions on its marketing tactics, denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which was filed in King County Superior Court.

According to the complaint filed by the state, Penguin claimed in advertisements that homeowners who used its windows would save at least 40 percent on their monthly heating and cooling bills. These statements, the complaint says, are false. The complaint also contends that Penguin had no reasonable basis to support these claims.

The company's practice of asking homeowners to sign a letter agreeing not to cancel the sale, McKenna said, interfered with a law that gives customers three business days to cancel a sale made during an in-home presentation.

Under the settlement, Penguin has agreed to prohibitions against 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 wishes it to end.

Civil penalties in the amount of $25,000 have been suspended by McKenna's office provided Penguin abides by consumer protection laws in the future, though the company will pay $95,000 in attorneys' fees and legal costs.

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