Burlington Coat Factory: Pulling the wool over our eyes

A Connecticut TV station has nabbed Burlington Coat Factory for passing off low-priced Wal-Mart coats as premium Perry Ellis and Joseph Abboud garments. It's hard to believe anyone thought they could get away with it. All it took was a customer noticing that his label appeared to be pasted on. He tugged on it, and the whole scam unraveled: Cheaper coats were being passed off as name-brand high fashion.


In Connecticut alone, all but one of the Burlington Coat Factory locations were passing off the faux coats, originally made by George and Amalfi, a private Macy's brand.

A full-price Perry Ellis version would be $200. And Burlington Coat Factory was selling the fake labeled coats for less than $70. Seems a like a good deal, right? Except the original Wal-Mart coat, before that pasted label, cost about $30.

Burlington Coat Factory has backed away from responsibility for this one, blaming instead the Levy Group, a supplier it uses. The Levy Group, which has legitimate rights to Perry Ellis and Joseph Abboud labels and doesn't need to be counterfeiting them tried to distance itself from the dirty play by blaming an employee, whom it claims was acting of his or her own accord. Everyone's saying they knew nothing about it, and the lone-gun culprit they claim to have identified has not been named, nor his motives explained.

Burlington Coat Factory has nonetheless yanked the shipment from its stores nationwide, and as Consumerist reports, if you bought one of the knock-offs, you'll get your money back plus a 20%-off coupon.

Our budgets are slashed, but our taste for the trappings of the high life remains as strong as ever. There are still plenty of people who buy something simply because they see the name on the label and not necessarily because they know or care about the quality of the design itself.
If those duped customers thought those those coats looked good, it's too bad they didn't just buy them at Wal-Mart or Macy's when they were $30 and tagged correctly. A fair number of them were doubtless seduced by the fancy name.

Times are tough, and the temptation to pass off schwag is stronger than ever for unscrupulous vendors. We should all be looking more deeply behind the true meaning of our labels.

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