DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John Suthers today announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against Thornton-based Thermal Advantage, Inc. and its president, Eugene Applehans, for intentionally deceiving and financially injuring Colorado consumers. Thermal Advantage, which sells home improvement products – including windows, doors, and siding – ran radio, television, and print ads in numerous local press venues from 2005 to 2007. The company’s ads allegedly included claims that consumers could participate in a test program, in which participating homeowners would be “compensated for the use of their homes” and would receive “all new windows.”
Allegedly, consumers participating in the test program paid the same price for goods and services as customers not participating in the test program. According to the complaint, the only compensation for consumers in the test program was a guarantee that every homeowner would save 40 percent on their energy bills or Thermal Advantage “will write you a check for the difference.”
The ads failed to fully disclose the limitations of the 40 percent energy savings guarantee. For example, the complaint alleges that a consumer who purchased $15,000 in window and door replacements and realized only a 30 percent reduction the following year would be entitled to a rebate of the cost of 10 percent of the BTUs consumed, not a direct reimbursement of the consumer’s extra energy costs. Thermal Advantage rebates to customers in 2006 ranged from $79.51 to a maximum of $266.90.
The company is also accused of violating an Assurance of Discontinuation signed with the State in 2006, which prohibited the use of misleading statements in its ads. Per the agreement, Thermal Advantage and Eugene Applehans were required to pay the State $50,000 in Civil Penalties and $5,000 for the Attorney General’s investigation costs and attorney fees. Thirty thousand dollars of the penalty was suspended on condition there be no further violations of the Consumer Protection Act.
The State is seeking an injunction to stop the deceptive ads, payment of the $30,000 previously suspended, attorney fees and costs, and civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. The case has been filed in Adams County District Court. Click here for full text of complaint.