SPECIAL INDUSTRY MEMBER ALERT - RE: APPROVED HURRICANE PROTECTION-FLORIDA
On October 5, 2009, several representatives from the International Window Film Association and the AIMCAL-Window Film Committee met for a second time with members of the Economic Crimes Division of the Florida Attorney General’s Office to review (1) both new and prior concerns over the accuracy and use of certain statements made by members of our industry about the level of protection afforded by the use of safety and security window films during hurricanes and (2) steps already taken and proposed by both groups to address these concerns. The officials expressed their sincere appreciation for our industry’s proactiveness in these matters and for providing them with accurate information about the very real protection our industry’s products can provide in hurricanes and other storm events.
They now have the understanding that there are products designed and sold primarily for solar protection and others for specific safety and security purposes, and that sometimes all of these benefits may even be offered in a single product but only with specific statements of such combined benefits. There were several IMMEDIATE AND VERY SERIOUS ISSUES which were discussed that could cause immediate enforcement action against individuals or individual companies. The first of these is the use of statements such as safety/security films being “shutterless” hurricane protection; that is, implying that if these films are installed, there is no need to consider shutters or other Florida-approved methods of hurricane protection. This statement, used alone, could clearly be considered misleading or false.
The second serious issue which will likely bring immediate action against a seller is using a statement that states or implies that the installation of a film “qualifies for insurance discounts” when, in fact, it does not or when the seller of the film does not have documentation of such a discount from Florida licensed insurance company. Use of either of these types of statements or methods could result in immediate enforcement actions being started by the Bureau of Economic Crimes. Further, the Bureau representatives stated that the “use of scare tactics” in general would be scrutinized closely to see if such tactics were used to confuse or mislead the consumer by “scaring” them into taking some action.
The window film industry representatives agreed to take the following actions: (1) to send out another notice such as this one to our association membership making them aware of several issues (listed in the preceding paragraph) of very serious concern that could precipitate the need for immediate enforcement action against a seller; (2) to ask our members to notify the Bureau of Economic Crimes directly of advertising or other promotion to consumers which clearly appears to be misleading; (3) to work on an industry guideline which specifies a general level of protection which safety/security films can achieve in hurricane situations; and (4) to supply to the industry some sample benefit statements which can be made about such protection levels. An agreed mutual timeframe to accomplish these steps was by the end of this current year.
Another meeting will be scheduled as needed for further cooperation in early 2010. If you or others are unsure of the definition of approved hurricane protection products for your area, you can find information on the IWFA website at www.iwfa.com or contact a manufacturer member of the IWFA or AIMCAL-Window Film Committee. Questions about this issue or about claims being made by members of the window film industry can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or, in the case of suspected misleading advertising or promotion to the public, directly to email@example.com.