Newsletter 5/2020 from Cotance, The European Leather Association

“Leather jackets for less than 70€, handbags and leather shoes at low discount prices

The fact that such online deals are so abundant suggests that they must be a “good deal”, for the suppliers at least.

Our test buyers from the Association of the German Leather Industry (VDL) gave one such deal a try.

In a few clicks, they landed on and found a leather jacket they liked. The price was down from 140€ to under 70€, and with the product description (“medium-length hooded solid fashion autumn leather jacket”) and picture. this made it very tempting.

The lack of contact information and the negative ratings of the online platform were concerning, but how many consumers actually check such sources before buying? Probably not that many. With a few clicks, the jacket was ordered with an estimated delivery time of 15 to 20 days.

Tracking down Internet fraudsters

Three weeks later and nothing had arrived! Our test buyers enquired but were asked to wait a little longer. Five weeks after the purchase, they enquired again and received an answer… in Chinese. After six weeks, they said ‘STOP!’ and asked the credit card company to refund the money; a buyer has 30 days to recover the cost of a purchase if the item is not delivered. After seven weeks, a plastic bag arrived from China. The declared customs value said $17, below the threshold for customs controls.

So, what was in the bag? A jacket definitely, but certainly not a leather one.

The label inside stated ‘100% PVC’ and visually, this jacket looked like a cheap product, very different from the image shown on the website.

A complaint to the police about this deceptive commercial practice was met with only a shrug. At least the credit card company gave the money back.

All’s well that ends well? Not so fast…

Caution, health risk!

The jacket was then tested for compliance with EU law. The results showed that it contained a high concentration of Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, also known as DEHP, a plasticiser banned from general use under EU law , as well as carcinogenic Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other critical substances which, when disposed of, can harm the environment.


Consumers and authorities should act

Our bargain hunt has shown that consumers should always beware tempting offers from untrustworthy platforms, and always check the reliability of Internet suppliers

COTANCE and its member associations advocate for greater transparency and better rules for descriptions of leather products. We are committed to increasing consumer awareness of high-quality genuine leather and that for the real thing, there are simply no serious offers below a certain price level.


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