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Consumer Reports Exposes Cool Surge’s Misleading Claims

This article was written by in Consumer. 26 comments.


The Cool Surge portable air conditioner claims, in full-page newspaper advertisements that look like newspaper articles, to reduce the temperature of an average room by “up to ten degrees” using as much energy as a 60-watt lightbulb. Other air conditioners often use 500 watts or more, so it sounds like this device might be worth the cost that is double the price of a small window air conditioner.

Consumer Reports had difficult dealing with the company that sells the units. The organization’s testers had no problem ordering the units from the website for about $300 each, but when they attempted work with a customer service representative over the phone to order a unit, they ran into some problems.

But when we later called the Web site’s order line anonymously, we were told we’d have to pay $49 per unit for shipping, or nearly $100 if we had opted for the company’s two-for-one offer. Another call using a different number listed in a Cool Surge newspaper ad yielded yet another price of $148 per unit — plus $49 shipping — for versions with “slight cosmetic damages.” The two-for-one offer had apparently ended.

Furthermore, the testing revealed the air conditioner did not quite perform as expected. When Consumer Reports tested these claims listed above, they found that the Cool Surge cooled an average room, even in an environment most suited for success, by only two degrees.

Here is the video from Consumer Reports.

Negligible cooling nets Cool Surge portable air cooler a Consumer Reports Don’t Buy judgment, Consumer Reports, June 2009

Published or updated June 12, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar shadox

Ahhh… the ol’ snake oil… you have to love it whenever snake oil makes its reappearance… Reminds you of olden times… :-)

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avatar Rassah

I’m starting to think that ANYTHING with an “As Seen on TV” sticker is a “do not buy” item.

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avatar Mike Rogers

As CR noted, this scam item does provide some MINOR cooling from evaporation as well, but not enough to cool a room a most cases you’d what to. However CR missed a point–the process of freezing the packs in your frig actually creates more heat in your house! See also http://greenhomesamerica.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/another-scam%e2%80%94the-cool-surge-portable-air-cooler/

Thanks,
Mike

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avatar DA COLONEL

ANYTIME YOU SEE OR HEAR “BUT WAIT IF U ORDER RITE NOW WE’LL INCLUDE A 2ND.
UNIT FOR FREE, JUST PAY THE S/H FEE…RIGHT THERE & THEN, STOP * MOVE ON ITS
A SCAM………..

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avatar Barbara McNulty

What do I do with the 2 horrible Cool Surge units? I am sick that I lost $400.00 on them…they do nothing and i can’t afford to be out all the money. Will you suggest my best course of action, please?
Would it be best to call the company and ask how to return? I guess i can expect to be out $100 in shipping or what do you suggest?? Thank you kindly.

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avatar Karen L. Foote

I got stuck with one & I am sorry we both got taken. I want to send mine back & recoup at least the cost of the thing! I would advize any & everyone to check things out very thoroughly before buying anything!

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avatar Bea K.

Once again, NO one seems to be able to answer my question. Does this mean that NONE of these personal cooling systems are any ‘good’? How about persons like my brother who have a room with NO windows, but need to keep cool? We’ve tried the ceiling fan route but all that’s circulated is ‘hot air’. Can NO one prove that at least one or even two of these units work and are any good? It’s good to let us know what ‘doesn’t’ work but how about giving us a ‘heads-up’ to what does in situations like this, or even ‘other’ alternatives besides ceiling fans? Thanks.

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avatar Nita

I had two of these so called COOLING systems. They DID NOT WORK AT ALL!!! I was unable to return for a refund. I tried selling them to no avail and finally took the two to a pawn shop. I didn’t get what I paid for them but at least they were out of the house. I even bought EXTRA freezing packs at Walmart thinking the more freezer packs I put in the cooler it would be….. NOT. I then bought two window a/c for less than I paid for the COOLING SYSTEM. My apartment is sooooooo nice and cool!! Please DO NOT WASTE YOUR HARD EARNED $$$$$$$$ on this rediculusss COOLING SYSTEM.

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avatar Barry

There are portable air conditioners that are air conditioners in the truest sense. However, they require that a hose be routed to a window or other exhaust facility to vent the collected heat. It might be possible to vent the device through a duct as one would do for a clothes dryer. One problem is the cost. Portable air conditioners are, BTU for BTU, 2 to 3 times more expensive than window air conditioners.

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avatar Barry

There are portable air conditioners that are air conditioners in the truest sense. However, they require that a hose be routed to a window or other exhaust facility to vent the collected heat. It might be possible to vent the device through a duct as one would do for a clothes dryer. One problem is the cost. Portable air conditioners are, BTU for BTU, 2 to 3 times more expensive than window air conditioners.

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avatar Leah

I did purchase these when they had their 2 for 1 deal this past summer. I was very disappointed in the “A/C” cooling feature, as what it really did was make the room more humid, therefore less comfortable. BUT, I don’t feel as though I wasted my money b/c the unit has several other features that I use on a daily basis. We live at high altitude and the climate is very dry here. We use the humidifier every night in our room and our daughter’s room. It also functions as a space heater which has been great for us this winter AND you can use the humidifier function simultaneously with the heater mode. Just thought I would add my 2 cents.

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avatar Crystal

I have this unit in my son’s bedroom. He loves it. Apparently, we got a good unit. He loves the oscillating feature alot whether he is cooling the room or heating the room. He also likes the “fireplace” look. It replaced the night-light for his room!

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avatar J.C. Landry

Received the “special deal” letter in the mail today to purchase this for $148. with slight deficts. So thankful that I decided to check this out and found this website. Bless you.

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avatar George

Believe me, all it does is move a little air around. I’m waiting to see if a class action law suite gets filed. Maybe then we can get some of our money back. The ads were very miss leading and consumer report prooves it.

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avatar don

I have two of these units and last summer didnt see much benefit…during the cooler winter here in florida i did enjoy both of them, and now this summer., I put the cooler humidifer fan on also and then i freeze ice in my freezer in little containers and add that ..and it has made difference in running of my a/c quite a bit…the little freeze packets they give you does not anything by themselves but with the adding of ice to the units all the time…it has proven very very effective for me….i would never buy them again but am making use of what i did pay for them………..

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avatar Anna

I ordered the “two for cheap” deal and got those plus two more that also had the heating unit in the bottom to “help out with your winter heating bills” as stated by the Operations Manager. As most everyone knows, Florida is ungodly hot in the summer and having spent most of my life here, wanted a cooler, more tolerable environment that would not break the power bill records. When I ordered the units I knew I was getting a simple fan with a few bells and whistles and so far, this has proven out. I use one in the living room and one in the bedroom with or without the ice (depends on how lazy I am). Just having moving air on my skin does the job and I like the oscillating and timer features. Maybe I just got carried away with the convenience of ordering online and having the units delivered to my doorstep. THEN, I called today to ask if dropping a little bit of bleach in the reservoir to prohibit the growth of fungi type critters would harm the unit. BOY!! did I get a run around!!! Finally got the girl rep to admit that she nor her supervisor had not a clue but when I asked her to get me a technician, I was placed in the black hole of “on hold”. THIS I am sure was deliberate and not at all appreciated. At this point, it would be too much trouble to return them but all in all, I think they are not totally useless in my climate but way overpriced for what they really are.

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avatar nitaree

I can not believe how worthless these Cool Surges are. I live in Austin, TX where it’s not uncommon to have heat indexes up too 110 degrees. I ran them practically 24/7 and the coolest it got my living room is 94 degrees. I was assured that when I bought the, buy one get one free, that these units would do an outstanding job at cooling my apartment, that was a bunch of horse pucky. I have a medical condition where I am suppose to stay out of the heat. So, on Memorial Weekend I bought two a/c window units (10,000 BTU) (it was a buy one get the second one free)! It was also tax free weekend and I didn’t have to pay taxes on the two units. The two Surge Coolers are going to the Pawn Shop in the morning…

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avatar Natalie

I have two of these units and I don’t know what average room consumer reports used, but I live in Texas where 100 degree days are the norm for three months of the year. We have an addition on the house that does not have an ac duct in it. We use the cool surge to keep the room liveable and it works. We also have one in our bedroom and frequently will have to turn it off in the middle of the night because the room gets cold. So consumer reports, sorry but not buying what you’re selling on here. I know from experience that these items work and they have not increased our electric bill like a window unit would.

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avatar susan from Illinois

HOW do you use it? WHAT do you do to get them to work for YOU???
The instructions were not included in the sealed carton.
I did NOT get the ONLY BOX without them. NOW, how to use this thing!
No one wants to share this information, NOT EVEN THE FEW HAPPY customers.
What gives??? Another secret society?

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avatar Avonrose8

I have seen a real portable ac unit at Costco for about $500.00. And the good thing is if you don’t like it, you can take it back without a problem.

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avatar Avonrose8

My parents gave me two of them but without the instructions. Do you just fill up the bottom with water and ice?

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avatar Funtraveler22

Hi, George,
My mother ordered the two for one deal, sent them back during the trial period and still has heard nothing. Have you gotten your money back, yet?

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avatar Laura L. McNeil

I was just about to order two but I am so glad I came to this site first. So much for what seems like a good deal.

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avatar Sharon

I have these units and enjoy them very much. I like they heat in winter and cool in summer. I use a little water then fill with ice to the line. have to have water in or won’t work.

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avatar susan from Illinois

The instructions were not included in the sealed carton.
I did NOT get the ONLY BOX without them. NOW, how to use this thing!
No one wants to share this information, NOT EVEN THE FEW HAPPY customers.
What gives??? Another secret society?

Reply to this comment

avatar Carla

Ok, here’s the deal. An EVAPORATIVE COOLER, which is what this is, only works to cool a room by taking warm DRY air and adding moisture, thus cooling the air. So if you live anywhere but the desert SW, it doesn’t work. I live in Tucson, mine works fine. The older homes here don’t even have A/C, they have a large evaporative system in the home aka a swamp cooler.

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