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Boston-based trade group charges Amazon is pulling the wool over consumers' eyes, sues

CCMI Web site features a cashmere goat

Boston-based trade group to Amazon: Who are you trying to kid?

A Back Bay organization that represents companies around the world that make cashmere clothing makers around the world today sued Amazon and a New Jersey company it charges are selling acrylic scarves as "100% cashmere."

In a trademark suit filed in US District Court in Boston, the Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute says it bought 14 allegedly Scottish cashmere scarves on Amazon and found that they were, in fact, not made in Scotland and were 100% acrylic, which the institute derides as "a petroleum-based, synthetic fiber that is much cheaper, less warm and more flammable than Cashmere, and contains harmful chemicals such as dimethylformamide and acrylonitrile that are not present in Cashmere."

The institute is asking a judge to order Amazon and the third-party vendor to stop advertising non-cashmere products as cashmere and to pay damages under the Massachusetts consumer-protection law.

One normally doesn't associate Boston with cashmere, let alone camel hair, but the institute is headquartered on St. James Avenue - on the other side of the world from the Mongolian and Manchurian steppes where farmers raise the goats that produce cashmere.

Uxbridge, out by I-495, though, played a key role in the US cashmere industry, when in 1820, John Capron built the first power woolen mill in the US, which he used to turn out cashmere and blended-cashmere products. The Bachmann Uxbridge Worsted Corp. that grew on the site eventually became one of the largest woolen manufacturers in the country.

Complete complaint (5M PDF).

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Comments

The mislabeling of materials on Amazon has become insane ever since it got flooded with hundreds of thousands of chinese companies all selling the same mass produced shit. Nothing is labeled correctly - cashmere, linen, cotton, all are cheap polyester once you get it. And then you return it just for it to go in a landfill. Amazon knows there is blatant gaming of the stock and listing/description going on - to the point where you will be looking at a kitchen product and all the 5 star reviews are for some portable cell phone battery, but the seller switched the listing over so they could benefit from the algorithm and reviews and game the whole thing. Or a seller is selling their product under 35 different generic name "stores" so complaining about one doesn't impact their other 34 outlets.

I get the Cashmere people are doing this as trade protection - buy enough garbage "cashmere" garments and you start assuming the fiber is all hype and not worth the cost, which damages everybody involved in the supply chain - but it's also awful for people with any kind of skin condition or people who are trying to get away from petrochemical clothing. To which you say, well, go shop somewhere else, but most local places are all selling cheaply made disposable fast fashion as well, and Amazon has consumed the online retail world at large.

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which is I think why you see reviews for the wrong product -- their algorithms have decided to lump two products together.

I really dread having to buy something on Amazon, because I know there's about a 50% chance I'm going to have to return it or argue with the seller or customer service. Luckily, this only happens about once a year. Usually I can find everything I need locally or direct from the manufacturer.

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One of the very first things I bought on Amazon, many years ago, was a DVD player that was listed as being able to play VCD discs. (VCD was an obscure format used in China, and was what my wife's mom was sending to her.) The only reason I bought it was for that ability. It would not play VCD discs, and it took months to get Amazon to refund the money for the thing.

Things are no doubt worse now, but Amazon never did give a shit, or make any effort to ensure that items were as described. I hope the lawsuit makes them uncomfortable, but I doubt that it will have more than a very limited effect, if any.

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Bullsheep.

Clothing is so cheaply made these days. "Cable sweaters" with no cabling on the back when you turn them over, synthetic fabrics and plastic shoes, etc. Even Ralph Lauren is joining in on the knit blend economy.

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On the one hand, Amazon makes a percentage of the sales from these other sellers. On the other hand, with the thousands of sellers they have, how could anyone oversee all the products they sell? If Amazon is stocking and selling bogus goods then go after them. In this case I think the Cashmere people are only including Amazon in the suit because it's too hard to go after bunch of faceless sellers.

Amazon profits from this ignorance. Why should it try harder to know what is fake?

Assume anything sold on Amazon is fake if it could be.

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If Amazon's business model is fundamentally incapable of correct representation of products, maybe they shouldn't be in business.

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This, in my mind, is similar to the problems that Facebook (et al) faces trying to manage what people say. Facebook isn't posting messages saying, "COVID is a hoax" and yet plenty of their users are saying that. There's only so much that they can do manage the content, short of shutting the whole thing down. Similarly, Amazon needs to be responsive when people point out fraud, but it's a tall order to ask them to weed it all out.

It's interesting that this organization is based in Boston. It's part of our history of clothing manufacturing back in the mill days.