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GE Agrees to Stop Making Claims for Energy Choice Bulbs

November 10, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A brand of light bulb touted by General Electric Co. as cheaper to run and more efficient than regular bulbs is, indeed, cheaper and more efficient - and dimmer.

GE on Monday settled charges filed with the Federal Trade Commission that accused the company of misleading customers by claiming that its Energy Choice incandescent bulbs generated the same amount of light as ordinary, higher- wattage bulbs.

In fact, the FTC said, the Energy Choice bulbs are cost- and energy- efficient because they have a lower wattage. They use less electricity and, hence, are not as bright.

″Anytime you use a light bulb of less watts, you’re going to get less light,″ said Lee Peeler, associate director of the FTC’s advertising practices division. ″They’ll get some energy saving as opposed to the bulb that it’s compared to. But they’ll also get less light.″

The agreement bars GE from ″misrepresenting the relative light output or wattage″ of the Energy Choice bulbs. It also requires that, in future claims of cost savings or environmental benefit, GE ″clearly and prominently disclose to consumers that the bulbs provide less light.″

Along with Monday’s FTC settlement, GE reached similar agreements with 32 states.

In a statement, GE said it does not admit breaking any laws or regulations and defended the integrity of its product.

″These products provide significant energy savings when used in place of ordinary incandescent products,″ the company said. ″Products in this line have been used by several utility companies as a means of reducing energy demand by shifting customers away from higher wattage incandescent light bulbs.″

According to the FTC complaint, the Energy Choice bulb packaging prominently displays, ″in large, bold print,″ the wattage of regular bulbs it suggests be replaced with Energy Choice bulbs.

″Below, in smaller and less prominent print, the actual wattage of the bulbs in the package is listed,″ the FTC said. ″They do not adequately disclose that the bulbs provide less light than the bulbs they are to replace.″

The company also was accused of stating, in a television commercial, that the bulbs helped eliminate pollution, saved energy and cut down on electric bills - without stating that they’re dimmer.

Under the settlement, GE would be allowed to use its leftover packaging for up to 120 days. The action does not affect GE’s ″Energy Choice″ fluorescent bulbs.

The 32 states with which GE reached agreements:

Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

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