Canada Goose Takes Heat for No Refund Policy in China

What Happened: Days ahead of a three-way collaboration drop with BAPE and Concepts, Canada Goose is seeing a media frenzy in China — for all the wrong reasons. Earlier this week, the winter apparel brand came under fire after refusing to refund a customer in Shanghai for a damaged parka, stating that all products sold at its retail stores in the mainland are non-refundable. The customer, whose purchase amounted to nearly $1,800, had complained of loose threads, an extra red line embroidered on the logo, and a pungent smell.

The customer in Shanghai complained that her item had a wrongly stitched logo. Photo: Shanghai Morning Post

After the incident was posted online, the Shanghai Consumer Council accused Canada Goose of “bullying” customers and summoned brand representatives to explain. On December 2, the luxury puffer jacket maker submitted a statement pledging to offer refund or return services on all products sold at its mainland stores within 14 days of purchase (provided there are issues with craftsmanship) as well as implement a seven-day unconditional refund policy for e-commerce orders. Another round of talks is expected next week.

The Jing Take: The big question that comes to mind is: Why does Canada Goose not allow refunds in China? As one staff member told The Beijing News, this is because consumers already have the opportunity to check the items in person. In fact, when the aforementioned customer bought her jacket, she had signed the brand’s exchange policy acknowledging that all products are “strictly non-refundable.”

Yet this explanation — if one can call it that — has failed to placate netizens. On top of finding it difficult to return items, they have also called out the brand for “double standards,” noting that online purchases in global markets are eligible for refunds within 30 days of purchase instead of just seven. As the China Consumer Association wrote: “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.”

And Canada Goose cannot afford to lose the Chinese market. In the three months ending September 26, sales surged nearly 20 percent thanks to its direct-to-consumer business in mainland China, which grew 86 percent versus last year. But this latest controversy adds on to a growing list of offenses there: just three months ago, the Toronto-based giant was slapped with a $71,000 fine for false advertising.

While many luxury brands eventually bounce back in China after controversy, the timing isn’t great for Canada Goose. In the middle of its peak selling season, the news has ignited nationalistic anger and calls for a boycott on the brand. Without a clear explanation of its refund policies, which the Shanghai Consumer Council is still demanding, and display of remorse, the parka maker may be the one getting the cold shoulder this Christmas.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.