Florida Still Reeling Following Ban of ‘Hurricane-Resistant’ Film SalesMay 28th, 2014 by Editor
Hurricane Preparedness Week, which runs May 25 through May 31, has some window film dealers marketing their services to customers looking to ready their homes for the seasonal weather. But dealers in Florida, the most hurricane-prone state, are still struggling to offer their services to consumers.
Florida HB 849, which went into effect July 1, 2011, made it a violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, to advertise, sell, offer, provide, distribute or market any product as hurricane, windstorm or impact-resistant unless it is in compliance with the provisions for product approval in the Florida Building Code which includes window film.
“The hurricane laws really did impact [business] and, personally, it’s too much of an impact,” says Kevin Millard, president of Accent Distributing in Sarasota, Fla. “When the shutter company organization got that law passed that said we can no longer advertise windstorm protection for window film, I actually think that’s an injustice to all of our potential customers. It did affect [the industry] and it hurt it and now we’ve stopped promoting it for windstorm protection.
“Window film offers a good deal of protection. It’s not as much as a storm shutter, but it’s something they can do,” adds Millard. “From a cost point of view, there are a lot of younger families with a competition for dollars … they would still like to provide as much protection as possible for their families. Maybe they can’t afford storm shutters but [film] is something they can afford. I like the benefits of window film in addition to storm protection. Security films have suffered in Florida. Personally, I hate to see that happen because there are a lot of benefits to safety and security window films.”
“The new law is just and deserving,” argues Scott Kuntz, who has served on the International Hurricane Protection Association, ASTM International and International Code Council. “Window film does not work for residential applications when put through the full battery of required tests. Just because it may make it through one test does not mean it passes anywhere near all of the necessary criteria. When left unchecked, the window film industry will resort to exaggerated claims for protection in order to make sales, thus leaving the persons who purchased said film, with a false sense of security and wasted money, while thinking that they saved money. This was the driving force behind the new law – no test approvals and exaggerated claims.”
“The Florida State Attorney has limited the marketing of window film as a windstorm/hurricane mitigation product. Simply mentioning this in ads and during the selling process can result in fines,” says Mike Feldman, president of Advanced Film Solutions in New Port Richey, Fla. “Florida dealers have had to rewrite their websites and remove images that might confuse consumers into thinking the films do anything for storm protection … Some Miami-Dade County dealers have taken advantage of the Dade County code officials by getting a component approval on windows that already meet more stringent building codes. Think of it like putting film on the interior side of bullet-resistant glass. The glass itself meets the code; the film may assist in spalling, it can certainly lower heat gain but pretending it’s doing anything to save lives or property is 100-percent disingenuous. “Thus far the majority of window film manufacturers have not played this game with the Dade County folks although they have all passed this same test as far back as 1997 and several passed a more difficult 4.5 pound missile test as early as 2000,” Feldman adds. “As a marketing ploy it can and will mislead consumers into thinking that this thinner film or equal has some type of unique attribute that no other company can match. Industry people know that this is 100 percent false.”
Friday, May 30, consumers are urged to develop a plan and Saturday, May 31, they are encouraged to take action. If you live in a state that permits window film within hurricane deterrence, comment below and tell us how you are going to help consumers develop their hurricane preparedness plans and execute them.