The Federal Trade Commission yesterday charged George's Radio and Television Co., a major Washington area appliance retailer, with failing to give consumers required information about the warranties on products.
The complaint was the first issued by the FTC under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which established federal standards for warranties on consumer products. The FTC's rules outlining what manufacturers and retailers must tell consumers about the terms of warranties on appliances and other consumer products costing more than $15 went into effect on Jan. l, 1977.
The law, and the regulations implementing it, require that warranties be disclosed completely, labeled either "full" or "limited" and be available for the consumer to read and compare before buying.
The FTC complaint, issued on a unanimous vote, alleged that George's:
By giving consumers what it calls "George's extended limited warranty," violates the requirement that a warranty be designated exclusively limited or full. A full warranty requires that a defective product be repaired or replaced within a given time.
Failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose what parts or components of the products are covered by or excluded from each warranty offered, and when the warranty time period starts running.
Failed to make manufacturers' and its own warranties available prior to sale. It may have set up binders containing the information, but failed to give consumers ready access to them, the FTC complaint charged.
Hebert Filderman, George's president, said yesterday the FTC complaint came as a "shock" to him. "There wasn't one thing in the complaint that we haven't adhered to in at least the last eight months," he said.
Filderman said the FTC attorneys during the investigation made the firm aware of the warranty law and that "we've responded with every single thing they've asked for . . ." He said binders are available, that signs in each store - with the language copied off signs in a major retailer - tell the consumers the written warranty information is available on request. He also contended that George's "limited extended" warranty gives consumers "more than they're getting normally from the manufacturer."