Fine for pulling the wool over buyers' eyes

  • 24/08/2016
An alpaca (Getty)
An alpaca (Getty)

A Rotorua business and its owner have been convicted of selling "premium alpaca" duvets that were mostly made of plain old sheep wool.

Budge Collection Limited and its sole director, Sun Dong Kim, were fined $71,250 during an appearance in Auckland District Court on Tuesday.

Budge imported duvets from China, selling them to Auckland tourism shops. The duvet packaging claimed they were "predominantly" made from alpaca wool and included pictures of alpaca.

But Commerce Commission tests showed they contained less than 4 percent. The rest came from sheep.

"Consumers were plainly not in a position to check the composition of goods," said Judge Rob Ronayne.

"In these circumstances, as with retail purchase, consumers place trust in the accuracy of representations. Here there was a breach of trust," he said.

The judge noted it's "virtually impossible" for buyers to tell the difference, but alpaca wool is marketed as being superior.

Kim fleeced buyers of twice as much for the fake alpaca duvets as those made from sheep's wool - about $185 for a queen size.

"The tourism market in New Zealand is significant and offending of this type can reflect negatively on our country's reputation," said commissioner Anna Rawlings.

"Customers should be able to rely on accurate labelling so they can choose products of the quality they want at a price that reflects this quality."

Kim's convictions come three months after Nangong Limited and its owner Yun Qiang Hou were fined more than $109,000 for the same offence.