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ACCC accepts undertakings for incorrect labelling of Cotton On Boots
08
Sep '08
Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd, which operates 164 retail stores throughout Australia, has acknowledged that a 'Lambskin' label on a Home Boots product sold through its stores may have misled consumers.

Between April and May this year, Cotton On Clothing retail outlets made available for sale to consumers a Home Boots footwear product. The labelling on the swing tag attached to a particular range of Home Boots contained the word 'Lambskin', while inside the footwear the manufacturer's label indicated the product was completely made of synthetic materials.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was concerned that the 'Lambskin' representation on the swing tag may have led consumers to believe that the footwear was made of lambskin when this was not the case.

When the issue was bought to their attention, Cotton On Clothing cooperated with the ACCC by removing the term 'Lambskin' from the labels on all the relevant Home Boot footwear.

Cotton On Clothing has acknowledged that the lambskin claim was likely to have misled consumers, and therefore likely to have contravened the consumer protection provisions of Trade Practices Act 1974. Cotton On Clothing has given the ACCC court-enforceable undertakings that it will:

- not represent their products contain wool or sheep skin unless those products do in fact contain the represented materials
- cause a corrective notice to be displayed at the main service counter of each of its Australian retail outlets advising consumers of the incorrect 'Lambskin' labelling
- offer a refund of the purchase price to all Cotton On Clothing customers who purchased a 'Lambskin' labelled Home Boot who advise Cotton On Clothing staff they believe they had been misled by the 'Lambskin' labelling, and
- develop and implement a trade practices compliance program which 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.

"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, Mr Graeme Samuel, said.

"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.

"The ACCC will continue to monitor labelling of this nature to ensure compliance with the Act," Mr Samuel said.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

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