After almost two months, luxury winter clothing manufacturer Canada Goose finally issued a statement on December 1 in response to allegations of unfair return policies targeting consumers on the Chinese mainland.
In October, the brand came under fire in China when a customer reportedly bought a down jacket from a Canada Goose store in a Shanghai shopping mall and could not return the product. The unsatisfied customer claimed that the jacket had the wrong logo, rough stitches, and smelly fabric.
However, the store refused to return the product, referring to its return policy: “All goods sold in exclusive shops on the Chinese mainland are not returnable.”
Netizens were (and remain) furious about the news, with some calling for the brand to be banned.
Canada Goose responded to the controversy on China’s microblogging platform Weibo, claiming that “Products sold in exclusive shops on the Chinese mainland are returnable and refundable when in compliance with the law.”
Netizens are still not happy with the response.
Canada Goose’s statement on the recent return policy controversy, published on the company’s official Weibo account on December 1. Image via Weibo
“Canada Goose is so embarrassing… It is as simple as a fart to return or exchange their products in other countries. Why do you put such overlord clauses on the Chinese mainland?” reads the top-upvoted comment under the brand’s statement.
“The statement is actually saying: I didn’t say you’re not allowed to return products, but that’s the reality,” reads another.
Canada Goose was also making waves on social media back in September for allegedly misrepresenting the contents of their down feather garments. The punishment: a 450,000 RMB (around 70,000 USD) fine.
The penalty was outlined by China’s commercial regulator, the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System (NECIPS), in a statement explaining the company’s infractions.
Chinese netizens quickly commented on the fine. Many, it appears, were not down with the so-called punishment, arguing that the fine was too small and that the statement accompanying the NECIPS ruling amounts to a “down jacket purchasing guide.”
It’s been a rough few months for Canada Goose’s China operations. Image via Wikimedia
Amid the initial scandal, state-backed newspaper Economic Daily published an editorial accusing the parka producer of failing to understand China’s advertising laws.
“The moon isn’t rounder in foreign countries, and foreign down jackets aren’t warmer,” stated the September 8 article, adapting an old Chinese colloquial expression.
“The penalty of 450,000 is a bit too light — the cost of only 40 big goose jackets. Is this consumer fraud?” asked one netizen on Weibo.
Indeed, a down jacket containing feathers from Canada’s eponymous fowl, the Canada Goose, retails for upwards of 1,500 USD. According to its official website, the Toronto-based brand actually has the most stores in China out of its 35 shops globally, with 13 across the Chinese mainland and four more in Hong Kong, Taipei, and Macao.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Canada Goose (@canadagoose)
A post shared by Canada Goose (@canadagoose)
Meanwhile, other netizens argued in favor of the information included in NECIPS’ ruling, with one claiming, “Ordinary people don’t have the ability to discern the quality of various commodities, let alone the ability to identify whether advertisements are boastful. Therefore, consumers can only count on the market supervision and management systems at all levels to perform their duties earnestly and become the ‘economic guards’ of the market economy.”
The statement from NECIPS details the different types of down — white and grey — and their source animals — ducks and geese, laid out in a manner not unlike what you might find in a particular section of an ornithology textbook.
White goose down is said to be the premium material, followed by grey goose down, white duck down, and, lastly, grey duck down, with warmth, quality, and cost all decreasing in that order.
Also detailed are the different proportions of down in a given garment (there must be at least 50% down for a piece of clothing to be marketed as a down product) and what actually constitutes down, as opposed to other parts of a feather.
Shanghai-based Daxue Consulting studied the rise in demand for down jackets and changing consumer trends related to the products. The firm found that present-day Chinese consumers pay more attention to the type and quality of material used inside down clothing, with a notable rise in the preference for goose down.
China itself is the largest producer of both goose and duck down feathers worldwide, mainly as a byproduct of the animal agriculture industry.
With a domestic market value of 121 billion RMB in 2019 and rising demand for down jackets leading up to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, industry knowledge, it seems, is even a matter of safety: Instructions related to down clothing care reveal that improperly cleaning your pricy feather-stuffed fabrics could inadvertently cause an explosion.
Surely the last thing anyone needs is a fluffy A-bomb at the laundromat after a family trip to the ski hill, right?
Cover image via Unsplash
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