The Federal Trade Commission has sued a California-based light bulb manufacturer and its principals to stop them from misleading consumers by exaggerating the light output and life expectancy of its Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs.
As part of the FTC’s continuing work to stop deceptive advertising, the agency filed a complaint charging that since 2008, Lights of America, Inc. has overstated the light output and life expectancy of its LED bulbs on packages and in brochures. The agency also charges that Lights of America misled consumers about how the brightness of its LED bulbs compares to traditional incandescent lights.
Manufacturers have recently begun selling LED bulbs for household use because they are a higher-efficiency, longer-lasting alternative to incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. Although the initial price tag may be higher, well-designed and manufactured LED bulbs save on energy costs and last much longer than other types of light bulbs.
The FTC alleges that in many instances, Lights of America’s LED bulbs produced significantly less light, as measured in lumens, than the company claimed in its promotional materials. For example, one bulb was promoted as producing 90 lumens of light output, but Lights of America’s own tests showed it produced only 43 lumens.
Also, in many cases, Lights of America deceptively compared the brightness of its LED light bulbs with incandescent bulbs, the FTC alleges. For example, the firm claimed that one of its LED lantern bulbs could replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb. However, while the typical 40-watt incandescent bulb produces about 400 lumens, the Lights of America LED bulb produced only 74 lumens.
Moreover, the FTC complaint states that in many instances, Lights of America’s LED bulbs would not last as long as the company’s promotional materials said they would. In one case, for example, the firm said that one of its LED recessed bulbs would last 30,000 hours. Independent tests, however, showed that the bulb would not last as long as claimed because it lost 80 percent of its light output after only 1,000 hours.
In filing the complaint, the FTC is seeking a permanent injunction to stop the defendants’ allegedly illegal conduct, as well as monetary redress for consumers who bought the deceptively labeled products.
The Commission vote authorizing the filing of the complaint was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on September 7, 2010 against Lights of America, Inc.; Usman Vakil; and Farooq Vakil.
NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. A complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.
Copies of the Commission’s complaint can be found as a link to this press release on the FTC’s Web site. The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.
Robin Rosen Spector,
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Gregory J. Madden,
Bureau of Consumer Protection