Update: Canada Goose agrees to refund customer after controversial policy triggers protest
Published: Dec 02, 2021 04:07 PM
A Canada Goose retail store in Sanlitun, Beijing on December 2, 2021 Photo: Tao Mingyang/GT

A Canada Goose retail store in Sanlitun, Beijing on December 2, 2021 Photo: Tao Mingyang/GT

A Canada Goose retail store in Shanghai on December 2, 2021 Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

A Canada Goose retail store in Shanghai on December 2, 2021 Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Canadian luxury down jacket maker Canada Goose reportedly agreed on Thursday to refund the price of a down jacket for a Shanghai consumer after the retailer was cobbled by Chinese consumers over its controversial product refund policy and discriminatory double-standard operations in the Chinese mainland.

After more than half an hour of communication with the manager of a Canada Goose store in Shanghai, the consumer surnamed Jia, who bought a down jacket in the store on October 27 but claimed she could not get a refund after finding the logo was incorrectly embroidered, finally got her refund, according to a report by China Central Television (CCTV).

Despite the solution of this individual case, the problems exposed involving Canada Goose in the mainland market could not be neglected, industry observers said.

The Global Times visited two Canada Goose retail stores on Thursday, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai, finding that product refunding could not be smoothly handled.

A salesperson in the Beijing store told the Global Times that getting a refund for a product is "not advised" because the process is "troublesome."

In the Shanghai store, the controversial exchange and refund policy was still posed when consumers asked questions about refunds, with the first clause saying that "Unless otherwise provided by applicable laws, all products sold at Canada Goose's retail stores in the Chinese mainland are strictly non-refundable."

Xiji (Shanghai) Trading Co, a Canada Goose-related company in China, on Thursday filed an explanation with the Shanghai Consumers Council over its controversial product refund policy in the Chinese mainland, a day after it was summoned, saying all products sold through retail stores in China are refundable in accordance with Chinese law. 

However, the response does not explain specifically how it will improve its refund policy for Chinese mainland consumers and help handle their refund requests, only saying "We have listened to the suggestions of consumers, which are worthy of our deep consideration. In order to better serve consumers, we will conduct further research and make suggestions to our global headquarters."

Instead of responding to the key issue of its refund policy at its physical stores, Canada Goose added more words to its refund policy in its e-commerce channel.

The Shanghai Consumers Council "is not satisfied with the explanation", and it will summon the firm for talks next week with the exact date to be decided, according to the CCTV report.

Separately, in a statement sent by the headquarters of Canada Goose to the Global Times on Thursday, it said that "in the Chinese mainland, customers are eligible to receive a refund within 14 days of purchase following applicable laws, if their product, purchased in a Canada Goose store, is found to have any issues with materials or craftsmanship; and 7-day unconditional return and refunds on official e-commerce platforms; or other circumstances subject to law."

Tang Jiansheng, vice secretary general of the Shanghai Consumers Council, said the Thursday explanation only specifies a 7-day unconditional refund policy. 

"Why can't it follow the 30-day refund policy that it applies in other markets outside China".

When it comes to online sales, it is clear that Canada Goose is maintaining an obvious "double standard" as it has a 30-day unconditional refund policy on the Canada Goose official website, but the clause does not apply to the Chinese mainland, where the 7-day unconditional return clause applies.

The discriminatory refund policy has drawn a backlash among a vast number of Chinese consumers.

No brand should have any privilege over consumers, the China Consumers Association (CCA) stated on Thursday.

The CCA said that respecting and protecting consumers' rights and interests is the obligation of every business operator. In this regard, no enterprise or brand has exceptional privileges. "If the brand sees itself as a big brand, and engages in double standards, and discriminates against mainland consumers, it will fail in this market," the association noted.

The Shanghai authority summoned Canada Goose for talks on Wednesday over its controversial refund policy, urging the firm to hand in its official interpretation of the policy by noon on Thursday.