Canada Goose, a Canadian manufacturer of winter clothing, is facing boycott calls in China. The company is being accused of practicing discriminatory return policies.
The issue began after a customer from Shanghai revealed to local media that Canada Goose refused to take back a $1,800 jacket she had bought on October 27. At the time of purchase, she signed an exchange policy stating that all Canada Goose products sold through Chinese stores were non-refundable, “unless otherwise provided by applicable laws.”
The female customer discovered that the embroidered logo on the jacket was defective. The jacket also had an unusual smell. Due to these issues, the customer wanted to return it and filed a complaint with the store on Oct. 28. However, the manager refused any refunds and said that the issue will be referred to the upper management.
The female customer posted the matter on social media where it quickly went viral. Netizens were furious at the brand and some called for a boycott. The main issue that irked many people was that the customer was asked to sign an exchange policy which insisted on zero refunds. However, the national consumer protection law in China allows for customers to return back goods within seven days of purchase.
Moreover, the company’s website promised a 30-day refund window. However, this policy is not applicable on the Chinese mainland where the refund window is only available for seven days. Some people accused Canada Goose of practicing discriminatory policies in the Chinese market when compared to other markets.
In a statement to state-backed Global Times on Dec. 1, Canada Goose admitted that all products sold in Chinese stores are refundable in line with local laws. “In the first clause, the policy outlines that all products sold at Canada Goose’s retail stores in the Chinese mainland are refundable, subject to applicable laws. The policy also states in the seventh clause that ‘the exchange policy does not affect the customers’ rights under applicable laws,” the company said.
Chinese state-backed institutions have lashed out at Canada Goose. Beijing-owned broadcaster CCTV called the company “arrogant” on WeChat. The Shanghai Consumer Council met with company representatives and plans to conduct another meeting next week to clarify the firm’s return policies. On Dec. 2, state-backed China Consumer Association (CCA) wrote a scathing article against Canada Goose, accusing the company of “bullying” customers.
“No brand has any privileges in front of consumers… If you don’t do what you say, regard yourself as a big brand, behave arrogantly and in a superior way, adopt discriminatory policies, be condescending and bully customers, you will for sure lose the trust of consumers and be abandoned by the market,” the CCA said in an opinion piece on its website.
This isn’t the first time that Canada Goose has come under pressure in China. Back in December 2018, the store had to delay opening its flagship store in Beijing after netizens called for boycotting the brand following Canada arresting Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
In June this year, authorities slapped the company’s Shanghai operation with a fine of 450,000 yuan (US$70,564), alleging it misled customers regarding the materials used in its products.
In addition to Canada Goose, many other foreign brands have faced boycott calls over the past few years due to several reasons, including supporting human rights. When China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying was asked earlier in the year about the boycott calls against Western brands in the country, she simply replied that “anyone who offends the Chinese people should prepare to pay the price.”