Which of these textiles are most likely to be in your home?
By now, you’ve probably seen many headlines about the coming demise of the home-improvement industry.
For the past two decades, the term “home-improvements” has been synonymous with those pesky old clothespins and threadbare linens.
Now, however, a new report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that home-repair services, including those offered through websites and e-commerce, are seeing a resurgence.
As a result, the FTC wants to ensure that the internet’s biggest and most profitable businesses don’t fall victim to these “internet ripoffs.”
The FTC’s report, entitled “Home-Restoration Industry, Consumers, and the FTC,” says that the majority of consumer products sold online are either “home repair” or “maintenance services.”
For the average American, “main-stream” is the label used to describe all home-care products.
But according to the FTC, the vast majority of products sold on the internet are not home-restoration products.
The report points to “large online resellers,” which it says “generally sell goods and services with little or no warranty and often fail to adequately disclose warranties and terms and conditions.”
The report also found that many of these websites and online reselling companies don’t disclose any terms and/or conditions regarding warranties and are often deceptive in their advertising.
The report found that there are “approximately 10 million online repair shops” across the country, which makes up “approximately 40% of the total online repair industry.”
As the report notes, the largest of these “repair shops” are located in the US, and “the largest online repair service companies in the United States include Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Sears, Lowe’s, and Best Buy.”
“These websites and resellers may be engaging in online advertising practices that would otherwise be prohibited under the FTC’s advertising rule, such as deceptive advertising,” the report said.
“They may also advertise goods or services without disclosing the terms and warranties that accompany them.”
The report notes that in some cases, resellers “may sell goods or service that consumers cannot legally buy.”
The FTC said it will be launching an investigation into whether these online repair services are “selling or offering goods or goods and/organs that consumers do not legally purchase.”
The “resale” of “home goods” The report noted that the FTC was concerned that home repair services were being “sold and advertised” as “repair and maintenance services,” which “would have a substantial adverse effect on consumers’ ability to obtain fair and equitable prices for home goods and repair services.”
The problem is, however.
“Home repair services have long been a major revenue source for the home improvement industry, and it is only through the use of a home improvement business to provide the repair and maintenance service that many consumers are able to afford a home renovation,” the FTC said.
To help consumers in the process of seeking home repairs, the report recommended that the government create a new rule that would require online services to provide a “fair and equitable price for repairs and maintenance.”
The commission suggested that it would require these online services “to disclose, for consumers to compare prices, and to disclose if the prices charged are higher than what consumers would pay in retail stores.”
The agency also suggested that the agency could require online sellers to offer “consumer protection programs,” which could include a warning about the “risk of consumer injury or damage” if consumers purchase an item that is not a “consumer repair” service.