NeimanMarcus.com's fake faux-fur fiasco draws real 20-year consent agreement

In what is probably a sign of the real versus fake end times, Neiman Marcus agreed on March 19 to stop labeling real fur as "faux fur." According to a very real FTC complaint, between October 2009 and November 2012, the luxury chain's NeimanMarcus.com and BergdorfGoodman.com websites sold a Burberry jacket, a Stuart Weitzman shoe and an Alice & Olivia Kyah coat described on the sites as trimmed with faux fur, when actually the trimming was real fur.

Neiman signed a consent agreement not to describe anything as faux fur unless it really is fake for the next 20 years. Two unrelated pure-play E-tailers--DrJays.com and RevolveClothing.com--agreed to the same terms for their own fake fur failures.

Part of the reason Neiman Marcus got into trouble here is that it started selling the fake faux fur products less than six months after settling a previous FTC fake faux fur investigation. But the bigger problem may be the fact that physical stores have human beings who can catch some of these labeling problems before they become a federal case. Online stores don't.

While Neiman didn't explain how the misinformation made its way to the E-Commerce site, the FTC's complaint said both the jacket and coat had labels indicating they contained real fur. That suggests a common omnichannel problem: In-store, associates and customers regularly handle in-store merchandise and can spot differences between what's on a label and the store's signage. Online, customers don't see labels until after they buy--and no one else in the E-Commerce operation sees them either, except for workers who are fulfilling orders in the distribution center.

For more:
- see this Los Angeles Times report
- check out the FTC complaint

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