A class-action lawsuit filed in a New Jersey federal courtroom accuses Whirlpool Corp. and two major retailers with misrepresenting select Maytag Centennial washing machines as being ENERGY STAR efficient appliances.
ENERGY STAR has become a mark which consumers look for when purchasing large appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashing machines and clothes dryers. A large yellow sticker indicates how the appliances use energy and resources like electricity and water.
According to a report at a Web site posting recent class-action lawsuits, the New Jersey filing intends to cover any U.S. consumer who purchased the Maytag Centennial washing machine. The Maytag Centennial was sold at Lowe’s and Sears stores nationwide under the myth that it was ENERGY STAR-certified.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim the Maytag Centennial washing machine failed to meet standards set by the federal Dept. of Energy’s certification for these appliances. An ENERGY-STAR appliance is supposed to use at least 37 percent less energy and half the water a non-compliant product will use.
The lawsuit identifies Maytag Centennial washing machines with the following Model numbers: MVWC6ESWW0, MVWC6ESWW1, and MVWC7ESWW0. It claims Whirlpool Corp. (which manufactures Maytag appliances), Lowe’s Companies Inc. and Sears Holding Corp. intentionally mislabeled the Centennial as ENERGY STAR certified despite it not meeting those federal standards. According to the complaint filed in federal court, the three Defendants in the case acted “in concert” to mislabel the Maytag Centennial as an ENERGY STAR compliant appliance.
The label allows the Maytag Centennial to be sold at a premium cost and has become a preferred option for a consumer looking to cut down on the long-term costs of electricity and water usage. ENERGY STAR appliances are marketed with the implication that overall energy savings will eventually cover the increased cost of the unit. The lawsuit states: “The national retailers that dominate the appliance market rely extensively on ENERGY STAR-related promotions to bring consumers to the store and sell washing machines.”
To back this claim, the lawsuit notes an online advertisement for the Maytag Centennial listed at Amazon.com. In it, the Centennial is touted as such: “This 4.0 cu. ft. I.E.C. energy star qualified washer pays for itself in just over six years compared to pre-2004 conventional washers, based on lifetime water and energy savings.”
The original lawsuits were filed by Charlene Dzielak, a New Jersey resident, and Shelley Baker, a California resident. Dzielak paid $409 for her Maytag Centennial and Baker paid just less than $440. Both claim this price tag was at a significant premium to a conventional, non-ENERGY STAR labeled washing machine. Both claim they would not have purchased the Maytag Centennial if they had known it did not meet the program’s standards.
From September 2010 through January 2011, the Dept. of Energy notified Whirlpool that its testing found the Maytag Centennial washing machines included in this lawsuit did not meet the standards to qualify it as an appliance worthy of the ENERGY STAR logo. The DOE notified the Environmental Protection Agency, which handles ENERGY STAR-related actions. The EPA and Whirlpool have since reached an agreement which prevents Whirlpool and retailers from representing the Centennial washing machine as compliant.