LG Televisions and Allegedly Misleading Energy Saving ClaimsMar 15, 2017
A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against LG Electronics USA Inc. that claims the "Energy Star" rating on its televisions is false and misleading. LG televisions have software that "automatically disable energy-saving features whenever the picture settings are changed, without the knowledge of the consumer," according to the lawsuit. The complaint was filed in California at the beginning of March.
The class action asserts that changing the brightness of the television, or switching the mode for example, from "normal" to "sport" or "cinema' switches off "key energy saving features" used by LG's software.
What does the "Energy Star" Label Mean?
The Energy Star logo signifies a program created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is part of a program jointly administered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The logo on products is meant to show that the product meets the highest standards for energy efficiency. According to the EPA, an electronic device with an energy star logo means that the device is 25 percent more efficient than conventional models of that device, Law360 reports.
LG Television Complaint
The "Energy Star" is attractive to consumers, because efficient appliances and devices "can save nearly $200 over the life of the product," according to the complaint recently filed. The plaintiff says LG overcharges customers in two ways. The first way the consumer is overcharged is at the time of purchase due to the higher cost associated to the Energy Star rating. The second time is in the long-term with higher-than-expected energy costs.
"The promised benefits of efficiency and energy-savings were illusory," says the complaint. "For class members who purchased LG's televisions, the promised savings from reduced energy bills never came. Instead, LG deployed firmware to make it all but certain that key energy-saving features would be inactive during normal consumer use."
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Published in September, an NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) report concluded the energy-saving features are in effect while the DOE is testing the products, but then disabled after consumers make changes to the default setting, including when they put the setting to "Standard."
The plaintiff alleges she was not informed that changing the settings on her new 55-inch Energy Star-certified LG television purchased in 2016, would reduce energy efficiency, reports Law360.
The complaint argues that LG fraudulently induced the plaintiff to purchase her television with the misleading Energy Star label. "She would not have agreed to purchase the television, or would have sought materially different terms, had she known that the misrepresentation was false and misleading" the complaint says.
"A few seemingly harmless clicks, without warning, can as much as double the cost to operate a TV over its 10-year-lifetime, costing owners an extra $100 to $200 in energy bills," the class action asserts.
The allegations against LG include breach of express warranties, breach of implied warranty, violations of California's unfair competition and false advertising laws, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of obligation of good faith and fair dealing, fraudulent inducement, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, and common law fraud, according to Law360.
Prior Allegations Involving Energy Star Standards
In 2013, LG skirted a lawsuit over allegations that the logo on refrigerators misled consumers. Vizio is facing a proposed class action about Energy Star-labeled televisions that was transferred to California federal court in December. In February, consumers sought class certification against Whirlpool over allegedly misleading Energy Star labels on washing machines, reports Law360.
A report containing results of a battery of tests the NRDC and its consultant agency Ecos Research conducted on a number of 2015-2016 Samsung, LG, and Vizio televisions, concludes that more than 5 million metric tons of extra carbon emissions will be released into the atmosphere due to the new TVs' unexpected power requirements.
The additional electricity consumed over the 10-year lifetime of TVs with screens 32 inches and larger would be "enough to power every home in Los Angeles for a year and would create tons of the carbon pollution fueling climate change," according to the NRDC website.
The NRDC claims, there are multiple ways your new TV's energy use can double, many of which can take effect without your knowledge. In other words, your "energy efficient TV may not be efficient at all, potentially affecting your budget and the environment alike."
Legal Advice and Information
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