Cotton On admits lambskin boots with no lambskin may have misled customers

Cotton On clothing has acknowledged that a “lambskin” label on boots sold through its stores may have misled consumers, as the boots did not actually contain lambskin.

Cotton On clothing has acknowledged that a “lambskin” label on boots sold through its stores may have misled consumers, as the boots did not actually contain lambskin.

Cotton On, which operates 164 stores in Australia, sold the boots with a swing tag attached that contained the word lambskin. But inside the footwear, the manufacturer’s label indicated the product was completely made of synthetic materials.

When the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission approached the company, it removed the offending words from the product labels acknowledged that the lambskin claim was likely to have misled consumers, and therefore likely to have contravened the Trade Practices Act 1974.

“Businesses need to be particularly careful when they are attaching labels to their products to ensure the label does not represent the product as something it is not,” ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said in a statement.

“The ACCC considers claims made by traders about the materials used in the production of their goods are a particularly valuable marketing tool for businesses as many consumers place a premium on goods having certain characteristics.

“If consumers are seeking goods with certain characteristics they are naturally attracted to those goods over competing goods that do not appear to have such characteristics. As such, the ACCC will not hesitate to take action against traders making such false claims.”

Cotton On has given the ACCC a series of court-enforceable undertakings, including:

  • It will not represent that products contain wool or sheep skin unless those products do in fact contain the represented materials.
  • It will put a corrective notice at the main service counter of each of its Australian retail outlets advising consumers of the incorrect “lambskin” labelling.
  • It will offer a refund of the purchase price to all customers who purchased a “lambskin” labelled product who advise Cotton On staff they believe they had been misled by the labelling.
  • It will develop and implement a trade practices compliance program that includes trade practices law compliance training for relevant staff and a corporate complaints handling system to ensure similar potential breaches of the act do not occur in the future.

This is the second wool products mislabelling case in the last few months.

In August, the ACCC accepted court-enforcable undertaking from New Zealand company EziBuy over the mislabeling of mohair throws and pashmina shawls.

“The ACCC will continue to monitor labelling of this nature to ensure compliance with the act,” Samuel said.

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