TYPES OF FRAUD
LEARN ABOUT THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF FRAUD TO HELP YOU AVOID PITFALLS WHEN SHOPPING FOR DOWN AND FEATHER PRODUCTS.
MISREPRESENTATIONS OF FILL
The most common way consumers are misled is with false representation of the down content labelling. These can be done in the following ways:
Species: Some products falsely represent the type of down species used. For example, the label may say goose down but the actual product is filled with cheaper duck down or a goose/duck blend.
Down content: The Government of Canada has set out specific laws describing what down is. For a product to be labelled as ‘down’, it must have a minimum of 75% down fill. The rest of the material must also be listed on the label. This is the Canadian standard and legal requirement. We have seen products that are falsely labelled as ‘down’ but do not meet the 75% fill requirement. We have also seen products labelled as down products with no down content at all.
Fill quantity/weight: We have tested some products that claim to have particular weight in ounces or grams, but the actual weight is 10%, 20%, even up to 65% LESS than claimed! This fraud is difficult for consumers to detect as the item has to be opened and the fill extracted in order to accurately weigh it.
Loft: To measure the loft, you have to take exactly 1oz of down and see how many cubic inches it fills. A poor quality down fills about 400 cu in. A good down fills 650 cu in. And an amazing quality down will fill 800+ cu in. As the only way to accurately measure the loft is by testing the product in an independent lab, it is very easy for sellers to sometimes vastly exaggerate the loft number to be something higher.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Some sellers make false claims about the origin of the down in order to mislead consumers into believing the product is superior in quality.
For example, goose down from Canada is highly popular and recognized world-wide as a superior quality down. There have been many cases and documented lawsuits against international sellers falsely claiming their products to be Made in Canada or filled with goose down from Canada.
Another example is “Siberian Goose Down”. There are many thousands of products available with this claim, except that there is apparently only one small goose farm in Siberia. The genuine article is extremely rare and very expensive. If the product is not carefully documented – it is probably fake; and just a basic down.
Some manufacturers add fibres such as polyester, plant fibres, or wool to down, claiming that this somehow improves on the characteristics of down, which is untrue.
BELOW ARE OTHER UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS THE DOWN ASSOCIATION OF CANADA WANTS TO DISPEL:
1. ”Down is rendered less allergenic by the addition of other fibres.”
With modern cleaning processes down is remarkably hypoallergenic on its own and there is no proof of this being improved by the addition of any other fibres.
2. “Down's loft and insulation is improved by the addition of foreign materials.”
Nothing can be added to down to magically make it loft more. Down is the highest lofting substance there is, and nothing can be added to improve on it.
Adding a substance that lofts less than down will not make the down better. It does not make sense. Adding an inferior insulator to down doesn't make it a better insulator. In fact, it just cheapens the fill.
3. “Down and plant fibre blends wick moisture from the body more quickly than down”.
Down is recognized as one of the most breathable products with an amazing ability to wick away moisture. We have seen no evidence of this being improved by the addition of any other fibres.
The most leading edge part of the down industry is the research and development carried out by sleeping bag manufacturers. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their products and their down is never adulterated. When you are climbing Mt. Everest quality is critical.
The only reason to add these other fibres is to cut costs. Claims that these products are equal to or better than down do not stand up under scientific scrutiny. A study was performed by the University of Nebraska and Kansas State University. The “Evaluation of Milkweed Floss as an Insulative Fill Material” was published in the Textile Research Journal, Vol 61 No.4, April 1991. This is a quote from the conclusions of this study:
"The major incentive for down jacket and comforter producers to blend milkweed with down would be for economic reasons and not to improve the performance properties of down.”