Winchester Comments on FTC Settlement

March 1, 2012

One of the five companies named in a Federal Trade Commission announcement last week, Winchester Industries, has issued a statement related to its settlement with the government relating to energy saving claims made in its marketing and advertising.  The comments come from Mike Sugrue, vice president of the Saltsburg, Pa.-based manufacturer.

"Since 1983, Winchester Industries has conducted business honestly and in a forthright manner. Regarding the recent FTC investigation we share, and have always shared, the commission's stated goal that our industry present to all customers and homeowners straight forward, accurate literature and advertising," Sugrue writes. "Let’s be clear, Winchester has never admitted wrongdoing or liability in any manner with respect to any of its business practices."

At issue with the FTC was the practice of offering standardized energy savings pledges to customers, a practice used commonly within the replacement industry for many years. Based on the high energy efficiency ratings its products achieve, Winchester offered such pledges, in good faith, to its customers in the past, the statement notes.

"However, in 2010, when Winchester determined such standardized pledges could not always take into account individual home characteristics, it unilaterally and voluntarily discontinued offering such pledges," Sugrue continues. "Winchester took these steps well in advance of the FTC’s actions and two years before last Thursday’s announcement.

"When the FTC later started its investigation, Winchester cooperated fully and completely," the statement reads. "Since Winchester had already determined to discontinue the use of standardized 'pledges,' it was never engaged in any 'argument' with the FTC. To the contrary, Winchester Industries wholly supports the 'new normal' the FTC action has set for our industry, which applies to all companies, not just Winchester.

"Winchester hopes to be judged on these facts," the statement concludes. "Winchester is frankly disappointed that some have taken the FTC’s announcement to reflect poorly on its existing business practices and products. Nothing could be further from the truth. Critics, who have decided for whatever reason to advance their agenda by using the FTC announcement to portray Winchester Industries as consciously 'stepping over the line,' are being neither accurate nor fair-minded."