News by Rhiannon D’Averc
British online retail giant Boohoo.com has been caught selling real fur on its website. The product, a jumper which tested positive for rabbit fur, had been advertised as faux.
Animal welfare charity Humane Society International first flagged up the issue after testing the ‘faux fur pom pom jumper’. They commissioned an independent textiles expert to perform the tests, revealing that the fur was real – and most likely rabbit.
Humane Society International then passed this information on to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who were quick to act.
“Consumers should be able to trust the ads they see and hear – and they certainly shouldn’t be misled into buying a faux fur product in good conscience only for it to turn out to be from a real animal,” Miles Lockwood, ASA director of complaints, commented. “That’s not just misleading; it can also be deeply upsetting. Our rulings serve as an important notice to retailers and the clothing and textile industry about the need for truthfulness in their claims around faux fur products, and to get their house in order or face further action.”
Boohoo.com have been caught out in similar instances before, and though they say they now have robust checks in place, it appears they are simply not going far enough. They claim that the product came from an external UK-based supplier, who had signed an agreement to not sell any real fur products. A signature on a piece of paper, however, turned out not to be worth much at all in terms of actually preventing the sale of real fur.
A proportion of all Boohoo.com stock is checked by an in-house quality control team, though they also failed to spot any problems on this occasion.
It is clear that Boohoo.com need to do more, not just to protect animals against use in the fur trade but also to be sure that customers can rely on them to sell items as advertised. The potential for distress to buyers – such as those who have extreme fur allergies, for example – is high in this case, and is not something that the retailer can afford to ignore.