Regulator warns on fake fuel additives

Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) director-general, Wang’ombe Kariuki. file photo | nmg
Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) director-general, Wang’ombe Kariuki. file photo | nmg 

Dubious businesspeople are cheating consumers of millions of shilling through the sale of suspect technology they claim to be energy saving but do not meet the set quality standards, the competitions regulator has warned.

Some of the products may actually be harmful to consumers and some of the claims have not been interrogated and proven by the relevant government agencies, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) said Tuesday.

“The Authority wishes to notify the public that the above claims by Eco Energy Solutions Limited have not been proven or confirmed by the relevant Government agencies nor do they meet requisite and the said products therefore may pose a risk to consumers,” said CAK.

The agency acted after it received consumer complaints over the quality of products sold by Eco Energy Solutions Limited, a local firm.  

The company, which begun operations in 2014, sells products that are supposed to reduce consumption of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), diesel, petrol and kerosene by up to 40 per cent, saving the average household thousands of shillings annually.

Eco Energy Solutions Limited has further claimed that its products are environmentally friendly, cut down on toxic fumes, and are not harmful even when ingested by children.  

The CAK is questioning the veracity of these claims.

Eco Solutions has been asked to immediately stop trading in the suspect products or face heavy sanctions.

Anyone found manufacturing, selling, distributing and promoting the products could face up to five years in prison and a fine of Sh10 million, the CAK said.

The authority told the Business Daily that it had last year received complaints about Eco Solutions and followed up with a multi-agency investigation that included the Energy Regulatory Commission and the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

Preliminary findings showed that Eco Energy Solutions was involved in false advertising.

The Authority says investigations are ongoing and has asked Kenyans, who have bought the defective products to report them.

Eco Energy Solutions did not respond to calls for its appearance before the authority to make submissions in connection with the investigation.

It was not possible to reach the company for a response to the allegations as a website associated with its business is inactive and several mobile phone numbers it posted online were switched off.

Eco Energy Solutions had in 2014 and 2015 advertised its products widely, appearing in programs and infomercials in at least three television stations.

In these video clips, posted on YouTube, the company claims that its Eco Gas Saver, a small Sh1,200 bottle filled with unidentified liquid, would improve the efficiency of a cooker if attached to the gas cylinder using cello tape. A larger version of the product, going for Sh2,200, is targeted at hotels and businesses.

Variations, including the Eco Diesel Saver, Eco Petrol Saver and a Kerosene saver, were said to cut down energy usage by 20 per cent. Not once does the company explain the science behind its products, besides making brief reference to the “magnetic” qualities of the liquid.

Claims that magnets can affect fuel consumption are not new though they have frequently been disapproved.

The law mandates CAK with protecting consumers from false advertising and other unscrupulous behavior, in addition to guarding against anti-competitive practices. 

In the 2015/16 fiscal year, CAK received 66 consumer complaints. Most of the complaints were from the retail and banking sectors.