Windowizards Investigated for Making False Product ClaimsJuly 28th, 2009 | Category: Industry News
The fallout of an investigative piece published by Philadelphia’s Fox News last week (CLICK HERE
for the story) has created some concerns for the companies featured in that story. The one most affected has been Windowizards, a window distributor based in Levittown, Pa., and the manufacturer, OKNA Windows based in Bristol, Pa.The investigative piece alleged that certain windows distributed by Window Wizards, which were advertised as foam-filled, were found to have little or no foam inside. The news station also made mention of some marketing materials supplied by OKNA to Windowizards that were alleged to have been inaccurate.
A letter authored by Windowizards president David Goodman, says he was unaware that the marketing materials may misrepresent the amount of foam installation in some of the windows offered to its customers.
“We deeply regret any potential confusion caused by the portrayal of foam installation in our marketing materials …. We are taking immediate corrective action to clarify the qualities and attributes of all the products we offer to avoid any potential misrepresentation in the future,” Goodman said in the letter.
The foam allegations originated with a former installer, according to the report, who in December 2006 cut open a window that was supposed to be foam filled but, according to the installer, had no foam inside.
Patrick Egan, an attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP, representing Windowizards, also wrote a letter to Fox News and addressed many of the allegations against the company.
“Window Wizards has also checked its inventory and customer records since your interview with Mr. Goodman. While we did receive reports of defective foam injection in a handful of windows-eight to be exact-all customer concerns were resolved in a satisfactory manner. We ask that you consider the source of charges made about windows lacking foam : a former disgruntled contractor,” said Egan.
Following the newscast, Goodman issued another statement further addressing the concerns of its customers.
“At Windowizards’ request, OKNA, the manufacturer of the windows in question is present at our facility inspecting every window to ensure that it has proper foam content before it is installed,” said Goodman. “Window Wizards intends to respond to every inquiry by sending a technician to the customer’s home to ensure that the windows are properly foamed and to make modifications where appropriate.”
DWM contacted OKNA Windows to learn more about those inspections but our call was not returned at press time.
While this incident is receiving a good amount of publicity due to the news story, Charles Gentry of Carson and Coil P.C. in Jefferson City, Mo., an attorney who specializes in defect litigation, says stories such as this are certainly not new to the window industry.
“Nearly every case that involves alleged product defects includes claims of fraud,” says Gentry, who is not involved in this particular case, but has a great deal of experience in this area. “While fraud typically requires substantial proof to stick, it also opens manufacturers up to punitive damages. Insurance companies will not cover such claims leaving the manufacturer fighting with its own money. Also, most states provide consumer protection laws that are often times applicable and easier to prove. Such laws typically provide for double and triple damages and attorneys’ fees.”
As such, Gentry warns that it’s best to make sure your product and product literature are in agreement.
“In most cases, such claims are relatively easy to defend,” he says. “However, when the facts line up where a manufacturer’s sales literature and the end product don’t match, look out. If a jury believes a company was lying to increase profits, they’ll be angry. Angry juries typically award big verdicts.”
Gentry reminds companies to review all sales literature, websites, brochures, warranties, spec sheets, installation instructions, etc., to make certain they are in harmony with the product itself.
“As the green movement continues to take front and center stage and the Internet provides instant access to consumers, manufacturers must be more diligent than ever to provide what they promise they provide,” says Gentry.
“The plaintiffs’ bar is in the bushes waiting to strike when manufacturers trip up, intentionally or not,” he adds.