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Energy-saving LED light bulbs:...

Energy-saving LED light bulbs: false claims?

By Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times

The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Lights of America Inc. this week alleging false performance claims for some of the company’s LED light bulbs. 

The environmentally friendly bulbs, which were sold at major retailers such as Walmart and Costco, don’t burn as brightly or as long as advertised, the FTC said in the suit.

The Walnut, Calif.,-based company’s light emitting diode bulb performance claims were made before federal agencies issued standards on how to calculate such numbers and were based on data from component suppliers, said Brian Halliwell, Lights of America’s president of marketing and sales.

But, once the government standards were released in early 2009, about a year after Lights of America’s LED bulbs first hit the market, the packaging and marketing materials were changed to reflect new, recalculated performance numbers — a move the lawsuit doesn’t mention, Halliwell said.

“This feels like we’re really just a poster child to warn others about making products with claims that they can’t back up, ignorantly or otherwise,” he said.

Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the FTC, declined to comment on whether the company had changed its product claims, saying only, “The claims they made were false or weren’t substantiated when they made them.”

The suit cites several LED bulbs, including one promoted as being a replacement for a traditional incandescent 40-watt bulb. Although a traditional 40-watt bulb produces 405 lumens of light, the suit said, tests showed that the Lights of America bulb produced only 74 lumens.

The packaging also claimed, “You’ll never change your bulbs again,” the suit said.

(read online version)

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