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FTC halts phony green agency

BY HBSDEALER Staff

An organization that called itself “Tested Green” — and claimed to certify green products for as much as $549.95 — was put out of business by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency has announced.

More than 100 customers paid various fees to have their products endorsed by Tested Green between February 2009 and April 2010, according to the FTC. Owner Jeremy Ryan Claeys claimed that the testing labs were independent, when in fact he owned the operations.

Claeys advertised, marketed and sold environmental certifications using both the website testedgreen.com and mass e-mails to prospective consumers. The company’s marketing claimed that Tested Green was the “nation’s leading certification program with over 45,000 certifications in the United States,” FTC investigators claim.

The FTC complaint alleges, however, that Tested Green never tested any of the companies it provided with environmental certifications, and would “certify” anyone willing to pay a fee of either $189.95 for a “Rapid” certification or $549.95 for a “Pro” certification. After customers paid, Tested Green gave them its logo and the link to a “certification verification page” that could be used to advertise their “certified” status. The agency charged that the respondents violated the FTC Act by providing the means to deceive consumers.

The FTC also claims that Tested Green deceived consumers by citing its endorsements from the National Green Business Association and the National Association of Government Contractors — implying that these were independent organizations when, in fact, both are owned and operated by Claeys.

Claeys and Tested Green did not admit guilt as part of the settlement, and the FTC notes that the agreement was “not a finding or ruling that the respondents have violated the law.”

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Birth of an Index: Residential remodeling

BY Ken Clark

The home improvement and home building industry remains a leading cause of statistics. And here’s the latest industry metric: the BuildFax Residential Remodeling Index (BFRRI).

Launched by the BuildFax, the Austin, Texas-based provider of building permit data, the BFRRI reports residential remodeling activity across the nation based on building permit activity filed with local building departments.

The BuildFax Residential Remodeling Index rose 11% year-over-year — and for the thirteenth straight month — in November to a four-year November high of 103.3, exceeding the November 2009 value of 93.0 by 10.3 points. Residential remodels in November were down month-over-month 2.5 points (2%) from the October value of 105.8.

On a regional basis, the South and the Northeast continue to lag behind the Midwest and West, with the Northeast still in a year-over-year decline, and while the South is up year-over-year, it suffered its fifth straight month of decline in November. The BuildFax Remodeling Index for the Northeast was down 1.7 points (2%) month-over-month and down 4.9 points (6%) year-over-year; the South was down 4.0 points (5%) month-over-month but up 6.5 points (8%) year-over-year; the Midwest was down 3.0 points (3%) month-over-month but up 3.9 points (4%) year-over-year; and the West was down 1.1 points (1%) month-over-month but up 4.6 points (5%) year-over-year.

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Stihl opens new facility in India

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Germany-based Stihl Group has opened a new facility in Chakan, Pune, India, according to the Business Standard.

According to the article, the new facility will include a warehouse, administrative block, a training center, engine testing and a service facility.

The company has been operating in India since 2005 under a wholly owned subsidiary Andreas Stihl, which is headquartered in Wagholi. According to the article, the company is set to appoint 500 dealers across the country in the next three years.

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