SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. (Sept. 29, 2003) – IQAir North America announced today that it has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Consumer Reports Magazine and its parent company, Consumer Union, charging that the consumer watchdog organization actually harms consumers and businesses with inadequate investigative techniques and a biased selection process that ignores quality manufacturers in place of mass market distributors.
IQAir is the top rated air cleaner according to Test (Stiftung Warentest), the prestigious German government funded testing agency, but since IQAir’s inception they have been unable to get their product reviewed by the popular Consumer Reports organization.
This month the October issue of Consumer Reports Magazine hit the newsstands with a much publicized article that blasted the Sharper Image’s top selling Ionic Breeze as “poor” in most categories and bestowed top honors on Friedrich’s electrostatic precipitator, a unit known to produce charged particles and that may produce the lung irritant ozone. IQAir was again not able to get their home HealthPro series tested for the article even though many consumer advocacy groups product in the category, including Consumer Review, The Allergy Buyers Club, Air-Purifiers- America.com and many other groups that support allergy and asthma sufferers. The Hong Kong Hospital Authority this month tested IQAir as the only room air cleaner effective enough to be used in the fight against SARS. Consumer Reports Magazine has often been accused of using market share to choose its test products. Specialty retailers who frequently deal with a higher quality of merchandise than mass retailers have long decried this practice since major brands like Honeywell, Hunter, and Friedrich are included, but smaller manufacturers who strive for a higher manufacturing standard are excluded simply because they don’t sell as many units. “Consumer Reports does a disservice to consumers,” states IQAir President Frank Hammes. “Three and a half million room air cleaners were sold in America last year. Over the past two years, the nation has seen air cleaners move from a pure allergy and asthma control product to a tool that also helps victims of terrorist attacks cope with the aftermath of airborne pollution. They’ve become an integral part of the nation’s homeland defense strategy. This is not a time for Consumer Reports to use outdated selection methods. They are keeping the best products from being tested.”
At the heart of IQAir’s complaint against Consumer Reports is not just their selection process, but also how the air purifier units are being tested. Consumer Reports adopted a testing procedure developed and promoted by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) for most of their air cleaner evaluation.
AHAM is in their own words an advocacy group for manufacturers,“ explains Hammes. “They represent big industry interest and not that of consumers.” AHAM promotes a marketing program in which they certify the performance of room air cleaners of their members. According to insider information, the Consumer Reports tests were carried out by the same contract test laboratory that carries out all AHAM certification testing. The Consumer Reports test, like the AHAM test, is considered flawed by many industry experts, and most quality air purifier manufacturers do not sign up for AHAM certification because of the test flaws. “Consumer Reports uses a biased selection process to choose which products to test,” said Hammes. “Then when it does test the units it uses the AHAM test procedure which was designed by big business manufacturers to support the often inferior products they were trying to sell. The Consumer Reports test results confuse consumers rather than provide them with clear and accurate information. Parents with children who suffer from allergies and asthma will be guided to buy inferior quality room air cleaners because they put their trust in Consumer Reports.”