Canadian Spa Retailers Claimed Their Spas Were Compliant
OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Jan. 17, 2011) – The Competition Bureau announced today that, as a result of its successful enforcement action, two additional spa retailers must cease making misleading representations that incorrectly conveyed the impression that their hot tubs or insulation met the criteria of the ENERGY STAR Program.
Under the terms of a consent agreement filed today with the Competition Tribunal, which has the force of a Tribunal order, “EcoSmart Spas” and “Dynasty Spas”, as well as a director of both retailers, Brent Marsall, have agreed to cease making misleading representations and to pay an administrative monetary penalty of $130,000. Corrective notices will also be published in all stores, and on their Web site, to inform customers of the misleading representations. In addition, a corporate compliance program will be developed and implemented for both retailers.
“I am pleased that our enforcement action has been successful,” said Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition. “Canadians seeking energy efficient and environmentally friendly products depend on businesses to ensure that the claims being made about their products are truthful and accurate. Companies that make false representations inhibit consumers’ ability to make informed purchasing decisions and put rival companies at a competitive disadvantage.”
On June 29, 2010, the Bureau announced that it had filed an application with the Competition Tribunal seeking to prohibit Mr. Marsall and his companies from making claims that the products were eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. The ENERGY STAR Program is an international standard for energy efficient and environmentally friendly consumer products. No hot tubs, spas, or insulation products for sale in Canada are eligible for certification by, or in association with, the ENERGY STAR Program.
Since announcing a crackdown on unsupported energy savings claims in June 2009, the Bureau has reached agreements with all Canadian hot tub and spa retailers identified as having made similar false or misleading claims, except EcoSmart Spas and Dynasty Spas. The Bureau was forced to start enforcement action against Mr. Marsall, EcoSmart Spas and Dynasty Spas. The consent agreement resolves the matter with respect to these final violations.
Canadian and American government agencies cooperated in the Bureau’s investigation. This includes the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which owns and manages the ENERGY STAR Program, and the Office of Energy Efficiency of Natural Resources Canada, which administers the program in Canada.
In June 2008, the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) jointly published enforcement guidelines, entitled “Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers“. The guidelines provide the business community with the necessary tools to ensure that environmental marketing is not misleading, while providing consumers with greater assurance about the accuracy of environmental claims.
The EcoSmart Spas and Dynasty Spas retailers that made the misleading claims operate in the Calgary and Red Deer area.
The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.