The Better Business Bureau is warning Utahns about a portable swamp cooler advertised in newspapers on Monday that is sold by a company with a high number of complaints and an "unsatisfactory record" with the bureau.

The Cool Surge was advertised in Monday's Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune on A9, and the ad promised customers who purchased the $229 cooler a $50 gasoline card. The advertisement compares the Cool Surge price to that of an air conditioner.

"Consumers should realize this is an air cooler, not an air conditioner," said Jane Driggs, president of the Better Business Bureau of Utah. "The unit uses a fan to blow air over two ice packs and water to produce cool air."

The product will only cool a room by about 10 degrees, and similar swamp coolers sell for about $100. The bureau worries that people will be lured to the Cool Surge because of the gas card, Driggs said.

The Cool Surge is sold by Universal TechTronics of Canton, Ohio. The bureau has received 184 complaints about the company since October 2007. People allege that they have not received the product and have struggled to reach customer-service representatives. They also say they have experienced delays in refunds after returning products. The bureau also has gotten complaints about product quality and advertising.

The company did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday afternoon. But the company has told the bureau that it intends to remedy the problems by increasing customer-service staffing and hours, investing in efficient computer-based solutions and improving product handling to resolve underlying causes of complaints.

Advertising in the News and Tribune is arranged through MediaOne of Utah. A call to MediaOne's president seeking comment was not returned Monday afternoon.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com