A company has been fined $194,000 for falsely claiming that its duvets were "pure alpaca wool" or "100 per cent cashmere".
Princess Wool Co Limited (Princess Wool) earlier pleaded guilty to 14 charges and was fined $159,000 when sentenced in Auckland District Court today, according to the Commerce Commission, which brought the charges.
Company manager Kevin Stocker was fined $20,187 on six charges and director Koo Yoarn Lee was fined $14,750 on six charges.
Commerce Commission general manager, competition, Antonia Horrocks said the fake claims were made on labelling and invoices.
Independent tests showed the "alpaca duvets" in fact contained between 9 and 17 per cent alpaca wool with the remainder being sheep wool. The "cashmere duvets" were made entirely of sheep wool, Horrocks said.
Princess Wool had twice assured the Commission it would remove labels stating "pure alpaca" and, with a number of other businesses, had also received a compliance advice letter about only making truthful "made in New Zealand" claims.
The latest case brings the total fines imposed for such cases to more than $1.5 million.
Eleven companies and individuals have been prosecuted under the Fair Trading Act for selling imported alpaca rugs as "made in New Zealand", and, or for claiming duvets were predominantly alpaca, merino wool or cashmere when they were not.
"Consumers buy goods like alpaca duvets on trust, because they cannot themselves verify the accuracy of product claims. We refer to claims of this type as credence claims, and ensuring that traders don't mislead consumers over such claims is a priority for the Commission," Horrocks said.
Cashmere, which comes from the fine undercoat hairs of goats, is also an expensive substance as it is finer and softer than sheep wool and is strong and lightweight.