Great Lakes Window in Walbridge, Ohio, has agreed to pay $10,000 in attorney’s fees and court costs resulting from allegations by the Washington State Attorney General’s (AG) Office that the company made false claims about the energy-saving qualities of its windows. The company also was fined $25,000 in civil penalties, but the Washington AG agreed to suspend those charges, “provided Great Lakes abides with consumer protection laws in the future.”

Great Lakes is charged with having sponsored an energy-savings pledge used by one of its dealers, Penguin Windows in Mukilteo, Wash., from 2004 through 2009, promising consumers who purchased new doors and windows throughout their homes that they would save at least 40 percent in energy costs during the first year, or would be paid the difference, according to state officials.

The Washington Attorney General’s office alleges that the representation that each homeowner who decided to purchase new doors and windows “would achieve at least 40 percent savings on their energy bills was false.”

“On the contrary, the potential energy savings for such homeowners varied greatly due to the many variables that affect home energy consumption, such as the type of windows being replaced, size and location of the windows, how well insulated the home was, the particular climate of the home’s location, and the type and condition of the home’s heating and cooling systems,” writes the Attorney General’s Office in its September 2 complaint. “As a result, the actual energy savings that homeowners who qualified for the Pledge typically obtained was in fact far less than the 40 percent savings the pledge promised.”

Great Lakes Window officials told DWM magazine today that they disagree with the State of Washington regarding this case and deny any wrongdoing, and “does not support or endorse closing tactics used in the industry.”

“We agreed with the State’s proposal to settle for a nominal amount in an effort to get back to the business of manufacturing high-quality, energy-efficient windows for our customers. Great Lakes windows are NAHB Research Center Green Approved, and we continue to stand by the fact that they help increase energy efficiency,” reads a statement from the company provided to DWM by e-mail.

“Window manufacturers like Great Lakes and not just companies that sell windows directly to consumers must avoid deceptive marketing tactics like energy savings pledge programs that promote false or unsubstantiated energy savings claims,” says assistant attorney general Jack Zurlini. “Our settlement prohibits those marketing practices and puts a few dollars into the pockets of affected consumers.”

As part of the settlement, it is noted that Great Lakes does not admit to wrongdoing and specifically denies the allegations, according to the consent decree filed with the state. Likewise, the company agrees not to engage in the prohibited marketing practices and will set aside $50,000 for refunds for qualifying homeowners. The window manufacturer also is to review and respond to written customer complaints about energy efficiency claims and keep records of those complaints for four years, according to the terms of the settlement.

CLICK HERE for the complaint filed against Great Lakes.

A settlement was reached with Penguin earlier this year. The Attorney General’s Office agreed to suspend $25,000 in civil penalties provided Penguin abides with consumer protection laws in the future. Penguin will pay $95,000 in attorneys’ fees and legal costs.

1 Comment

  1. Great Lakes Window is a wholly owned subsidiary of PlyGem, which is planning a $300 million IPO offering. Usually parent owners of subsidiaries are identified in news articles.

    It would also be interesting to know how many “manufacturers” offer/offered saving pledge programs through their dealer, contractor network as a marketing tool? I can think of a few…..

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