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Angry customers have descended on a Sydney luxury fashion store accused of selling high-quality fake designer bags, as fair trading authorities investigate the business.
On Sunday, this masthead revealed that Cosette – which says it sources authentic designer bags at a discounted price from European suppliers under parallel importing arrangements – had sold handbags to a number of customers who allege the bags were fake, after having them inspected by independent experts. Cosette has repeatedly denied ever selling counterfeit goods.
After a story aired on A Current Affair on Nine (owner of this masthead) on Monday, Cosette’s store in The Rocks was closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The company claimed the closure was due to staff sickness.
On Wednesday, officers from NSW Fair Trading conducted a site visit to Cosette’s warehouse at another address in The Rocks, after the consumer watchdog said it had received 75 complaints about the business since the start of the week. It also confirmed the company will appear on the next edition of Fair Trading’s official complaints register, which requires at least 10 complaints against a company in a 30-day period.
“NSW Fair Trading has started an investigation and at this stage is unable to provide any more specific detail,” a spokeswoman for NSW Fair Trading said on Thursday. “Fair Trading is investigating the allegations and will liaise with other agencies when appropriate.”
Under Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to a refund “if goods have been misrepresented, including when fake products are represented as genuine,” said the spokeswoman. “Consumers who have purchased from Cosette in the past 48 hours are encouraged to lodge a complaint online to assist NSW Fair Trading with the ongoing investigation.”
Comment has also been sought from Australian Border Force, which administers Cosette’s licence to sell goods duty-free. NSW Police declined to comment.
Since the story broke, dozens of Cosette customers have contacted this masthead to report allegations they purchased wallets, bags and clothing from Cosette – in some cases dating back five years – that they are now concerned are fake. The company has been operating since 2015 and has a large online presence, including collaborations with some of the country’s top influencers and celebrities. Several luxury-goods authenticators reported a substantial increase in demand this week for goods purchased at Cosette to be checked.
A number of customers who contacted this masthead managed to obtain refunds for their items this week, but in a written statement Cosette denied this constituted an admission of any wrongdoing.
“The refunds issued in recent days have been purely for the purposes of customer satisfaction, not because we have any concerns about the authenticity of the products it sells,” the company said. “In no way is this any admission of liability.”
The company said customers with concerns should contact it directly. “Cosette will arrange for a return of the product and reauthentication. If Cosette finds any product to be non-genuine after reauthentication, the customer will be refunded fully. Cosette is reauthenticating all product returned to us where a customer has concerns about authenticity. At this time, no product has been identified as fake.”
On Thursday, the store reopened with a security presence, who let in waiting customers one or two at a time. Angry customers say they were keen to get refunds for their bags after seeing the media coverage.
One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, says she came to the store after having her beige Saint Laurent bag re-authenticated this week. “I feel so blindsided by this whole situation,” she says. “Everyone’s got an attachment to an expensive purchase. It brings such heartache.”
Another customer was observed crying at the counter while she sought refunds, while another woman told this masthead she bought a bag as a gift to her daughter after the death of her husband.
A shopper who only gave her first name as Yasmina says she received a Givenchy bag bought from Cosette two weeks ago. She claims it came in a Cosette box – not original Givenchy packaging. She took the bag to the store hoping to have it authenticated or get her money back.
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