BBB National Programs National Advertising Division Finds Snow Joe Water Pressure and Water Flow Claims Relevant to Consumers, But Recommends More Conspicuous Qualifying Language to Prevent Claims from Being Misleading
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Brett, Director, NAD, 212.705.0109 / firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY – Jan. 28, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that Snow Joe, LLC modify challenged claims regarding the water pressure and water flow of its Sun Joe Pressure Washers, following a challenge by the Pressure Washer Manufacturers’ Association (“PWMA”), a trade association comprised of pressure washer manufacturers. The challenged claims appeared in Sun Joe product packaging, Snow Joe’s website, and other retail sites that advertise Sun Joe pressure washers.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.
PWMA took issue with Snow Joe’s advertising of two figures used to describe the water pressure generated by its products. This advertising consisted of a higher “Max” or “Max Pressure” figure, often accompanied by a lower “Rated Pressure” or “working pressure.” For example, one version of packaging for the Sun Joe SPX3000 pressure washer states “2030 PSI MAX” on the front panel and lists the same “Max Pressure” of 2030 PSI on the side panel. The side panel lists a “Rated Pressure” of 1450 PSI underneath the “Max Pressure.” A small disclosure at the very bottom of the side panel explains that the “Max Pressure” is “Peak pressure at initial discharge; working pressure under typical load is 1450 PSI.”
NAD noted that both kinds of PSI figures used in Snow Joe’s advertising are relevant to consumers. Sun Joe’s “max” figures provide beneficial information to consumers about the relative power of the pressure washer and the power of the unit as it relates to safety and the potential for harm to property. Even if the consumer experiences the “max” pressure for an instant, that pressure level is nonetheless relevant to their assessment of the product.
However, NAD determined that Snow Joe expresses its “max” power figures in a manner which reasonably conveys the unsupported message that the “max” PSI figure is what the consumer will typically experience when washing for any appreciable period of time. NAD noted that Snow Joe’s “max power” figure is not provided in a context that allows consumers to understand when they will experience the pressure, or for how long they can expect the “max pressure” when cleaning. Consumers may likely understand “max” PSI as an indicator of actual cleaning performance consistent with the product’s primary intended use and not the pressure experienced for one brief moment. Therefore, NAD recommended that Snow Joe modify its “max” PSI claims to include clear and conspicuous qualifying or cautionary language as part of the main claim, such that consumers understand that the claim is limited to the pressure level at the initial discharge and not during regular pressure washing.
Snow Joe’s maximum GPM (gallons per minute) claims for water flow performance were also challenged by PWMA, which contended that such measurements were taken by Snow Joe when the nozzle was removed, not during pressure washing with the nozzle attached. Snow Joe advertises the SPX3000 as having a 2030 PSI and 1.76 GPM and the SPX4600 as having a 3000 PSI and 1.3 GPM. NAD noted that while flow is consumer relevant, both with and without the nozzle and at various pressure levels, a pressure washer’s primary purpose use is for washing with pressure – a task which requires the nozzle attached. NAD determined that Sun Joe’s advertising, however, expresses flow in a manner such that consumers will reasonably take away the message that the GPM stated is the level experienced under typical pressure washing. NAD noted that Sun Joe’s advertising provides no explanation to inform consumers that the GPM referenced is that measured without the nozzle attached. Moreover, Sun Joe juxtaposes the flow GPM with a very high PSI figure. Consumers will therefore reasonably conclude that Sun Joe is referring to water flow while pressure washing and not that experienced during other functions like rinsing. Therefore, NAD recommended that Snow Joe modify its “maximum” flow claims to include clear and conspicuous qualifying language as part of the main claim, such that consumers understand that the claim is limited to the flow measured without the nozzle attached and when the unit is at its least pressurized and not during regular pressure washing.
Further, NAD determined that Snow Joe’s power claim for the Sun Joe SPX4600 - that the SPX4600 motor produces 2,000 watts of power - is substantiated. NAD did not identify any false or misleading message conveyed about the pressure washer’s output and was satisfied that Snow Joe’s product specifications supported its power claim that the wattage cited was that generated during typical use.
Finally, during the course of the challenge, Snow Joe represented to NAD that it had permanently discontinued its claim that the SPX3000 is better than other pressure washers in a “side-by-side performance comparison.” NAD, relying on the advertiser’s representations that the claim has been permanently discontinued, did not review the claim on its merits. However, the voluntarily discontinued claim will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended its discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.
In its advertiser’s statement, Snow Joe stated that it “supports the self-regulatory process and will comply with NAD’s recommendations.”
About the National Advertising Division (NAD): National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation overseeing the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for truth and accuracy.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs fosters trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution and other programs. The programs were formerly administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. BBB National Programs is the home of industry self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs that include the National Advertising Division (NAD), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), BBB EU Privacy Shield, BBB AUTO LINE, Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Children’s Confection Advertising Initiative (CCAI), Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC), Digital Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program), and the Coalition for Better Advertising Dispute Resolution Program (CBA DRM). The programs are designed to resolve business issues and advance shared objectives by responding to marketplace concerns to create a better customer experience. To learn more about industry self-regulation, please visit: BBBNP.org.