The consumer backlash against fake Egyptian cotton bed sheets has begun.
A lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York accused Walmart of selling products falsely labeled as containing 100 percent Egyptian cotton for years after it first questioned their fiber content.
Per Reuters, Dorothy Monahan said she paid for Better Homes and Gardens bed sheets sold at Walmart and made by Welspun India because she believed they were made of Egyptian cotton. The plaintiff is now seeking damages on behalf of anyone who bought similar products, alleging that the big-box retailer violated U.S. laws governing textile fiber labeling and advertising.
The complaint came less than three months after Target severed ties with Welspun upon realizing that the company had sent it 750,000 mislabeled Egyptian cotton pillowcases and sheets. Walmart soon opened an investigation into its own Welspun cotton certification records and discovered some of its bed linens were falsely labeled, but decided to work with the company to improve its quality control instead of ending their relationship.
The retailer also offered a full refund to customers who had purchased 400-thread-count damask stripe sheet sets and pillowcases marketed as 100 percent Egyptian cotton under the Better Homes and Gardens and Canopy brands and pulled those products from its stores.
“While the sheets are safe to use, customers who purchased the products may return them to Walmart for a refund in the amount of the purchase price,” read a statement on the retailer’s website.
But Monahan claims that Walmart had been aware that some of its Welspun-made Egyptian cotton products contained non-Egyptian cotton fibers since as early as 2008. A Walmart spokesperson told Reuters that the retailer plans to “vigorously” fight the allegations.
J.C. Penney and Bed Bath & Beyond also began reviewing their Welspun records after Target’s discovery, which prompted the Indian textile manufacturer appointed Ernst & Young to review its supply chain systems and processes.
“In the manufacturing process you source a lot of materials at various stages like cottons, yarns, fabric and since there is a need for us to revalidate all our supply processes and systems, thus the audit,” managing director Rajesh Mandawewala said during a call with investors in August, adding, “We are taking this issue very, very seriously and just want to make sure that the supply systems and processes are extremely robust as we go forward.”