The Government Accountability Office Punk’d Energy Star recently by submitting fake products and companies for certification. The Environmental Protection Agency’s arbiters of efficiency standards rubber-stamped 15 out of 20 bogus products and a handful of fake firms became Energy Star Partners. Here are three of our favorite fabrications.
1. Tropical Thunder Appliances
To perform this investigation, the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) March 26, 2010, report states that it “used four bogus manufacturing firms and fictitious individuals to apply for Energy Star partnership…”
Dummy websites emblazoned with Energy Star Partnerships remain online for each of the four front companies—Cool Rapport (HVAC equipment), Futurizon Solar Innovations (lighting), Spartan Digital Electronics, and Tropical Thunder Appliances.
2. The Feather-Duster Fly-Strip Air Freshener
Ostensibly an indoor air purifier, this item is actually a standard space heater spangled in strips of flypaper, with a feather duster perched up top.
The product was submitted without a standard safety file number from the Underwriters’ Laboratories. Plus, the product’s website did not include a disclaimer required for Energy Star certification. Last but not least, the garish photo submitted with the product’s application portrays what is clearly a feather duster rigged to space heater. Nevertheless, these obstacles proved surmountable—the product was approved in 11 days and became listed on the Energy Star website…
3. The Gasoline-Powered Alarm Clock
On the application for Energy Star certification, this product’s description stated that “the item is the size of a small generator and is powered by gasoline.” The GAO never devised an image of this piece of nonexistent indoor power equipment, which would presumably make enough noise to temporarily wake consumers before carbon monoxide fumes sent them back to sleep for good. The dimensions are listed as 18 inches tall, 15 inches wide and 10 inches in depth. “Gas-powered clock radio is sleek, durable, easy on your electric bill, and surprisingly quiet,” the product’s marketing description states.
All were approved!
BTW – I don’t think anyone in our federal government gets to have more fun than GAO investigators.