Durability + Design
About  |  Subscribe  |  Advertise  |  Connect 
Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook


Get your FREE e-resource: The Technology of Coatings in High-Rise Structures

D+D News

Main News Page

Coating Claims Draw $350K Fine

Monday, February 4, 2013

More items for Building Envelope

Comment | More

False, dramatic energy-saving claims about paints and coatings have cost one Florida home-insulation marketer $350,000 in civil penalties.

Edward Sumpolec of Palm Bay, FL, who conducted business under three separate entities, made deceptive and unsubstantiated claims about his products in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act and its R-value rule, a federal court in Florida ruled Jan. 9.


Sumpolec received the largest penalty ever imposed in a home insulation case, the Federal Trade Commission said. This local commercial advertising Sumpolec’s array of products is posted on YouTube.

The U.S. Department of Justice won the order on the merit of the Federal Trade Commission’s case without having to go to trial.

The figure is the largest penalty awarded in a home insulation case to date, the FTC said in announcing the decision Thursday (Jan. 31).

False Energy-Saving Claims

Sumpolec, doing business as Thermalkool, Thermalcool and Energy Conservation Specialists, exaggerated the capabilities of the liquid coating and foil-radiant barrier products he sold through Internet-based stores, including a store on eBay, the FTC reported.

According to the FTC, Sumpolec made the following false advertising claims since 2007:

  • “R-100 paint”
  • “This . . . reflective coating will reduce wall and roof temperatures by 50-95 degrees”
  • “4 layered coating system . . . equals R-100 insulating value”
  • “Saves 40 to 60% on your energy bills”

However, Sumpolec lacked any “reasonable basis” for such cost-saving claims, did not retain any material records for the required amount of time, and sold products to customers without including accurate fact sheets about the products’ performance, according to the FTC.

Sumpolec explained the statements as “typos” and said that the advertisements should state that his products are “equal to” or “equal” the stated R-value, a claim that he argued was justified based on the performance of his products as compared to conventional insulation.


Sumpolec advertised and sold the liquid coating and foil-radiant barrier products through internet stores, like eBay.

But, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, rejected his argument and ruled Sumpolec in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 45(a) and 16 C.F.R. § 460.5.

A product’s R-value is a measure of its resistance to heat flow: The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. The agency’s R-value rule requires home-insulation manufacturers, professional installers, new home sellers, and retailers to provide R-value information, based on the results of standard tests, to help inform consumers.

A local commercial advertising Sumpolec’s array of products is still posted on YouTube.

Barred from Making False Claims

In addition to the record-breaking civil penalty against Sumpolec, the court order permanently bars him from making a claim about a product’s insulation value or energy savings unless it is true, not misleading, and based on competent and reliable scientific evidence. 

The ruling also requires him to make product fact sheets available to customers before sale and to make mandatory advertising disclosures, including type of insulation, R-value at a specific thickness, coverage area for that thickness, and the statement: “The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Ask your seller for the fact sheet on R-values.” 

Sumpolec must also:

  • Have a reasonable basis for any claims that insulation can cut fuel bills or fuel use;
  • Make the mandatory disclosure regarding such claims, and
  • Keep records of all data about such claims for at least three years.

Efforts to reach Sumpolec for comment Friday (Feb. 1) were unsuccessful.

Greenwashing Crackdown

The case against Sumpolec follows the FTC's recent announcement that it would be cracking down on "green" marketing claims about any product.

In October 2012, the agency issued new "Green Guides" that outline specific requirements for environmental product claims. The new guides immediately drew the attention of the American Coatings Association, which represents coating manufacturers.

The release of the guides was followed by FTC orders rebuking Sherwin-Williams and PPG Architectural Finishes for marketing claims about some of their products.

The new guidelines are summarized here.


Tagged categories: Advertising; Building envelope; Insulation; Laws and litigation; Reflective coatings

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Dumond Chemicals Inc.

delivers the superior performance professionals are looking for when removing even the most difficult high-performance coatings and lead paint. This product is low VOC, low odor; biodegradable and user friendly.

Atlas Material Testing Technology

Helping You Put Your Products To The Test

• Outdoor Accelerated
• Laboratory Testing
• Accelerated Weathering

www.atlas-mts.com atlas.info@ametek.com

PPG Protective and Marine Coatings Group
Industrial strength performance in ONE can.

Now get the durability and protection of two components in one can: Amercoat® ONE, PSX® ONE and Sigmadur ONE.

Hanley Wood Exhibitions

Keim Mineral Coatings
Translucent concrete stains for new and old concrete

Penetrating, translucent mineral silicate stains harmonize uneven concrete color and blend patches and repairs, without the "painted" look. Will never peel.

KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office
KTA Laboratory Services

Fully equipped lab to solve
the most challenging
coatings problems.
Contact: Kevin Brown, 336-386-4000

Beautiful Wood, NO flames

Achieve a Class A flame spread rating on your fine wood products with a clear, varnish-quality, durable finish. PyroCide Clear by PyroTech

AGC Chemicals
Structural Steel Tiara Dazzles Atop Skyscraper With LUMIFLON® Coating

LUMIFLON based coatings
can last up to, 30 years
without fading, offering a low-maintenance solution that retains color and gloss and can be field-applied.


Technology Publishing Co., 2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@durabilityanddesign.com

The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker


© Copyright 2012-2015, Technology Publishing Co., All rights reserved