Egyptian cotton is characterized by extra-long fibers that are used to produce high quality products, including sheets and pillow cases. Consumers pay a premium price because this particular type of cotton is superior in quality to other cottons. The fabric is light-weight, smooth and feels luxurious to the skin. In addition to vendor responses, a lawsuit was filed against Welspun for manufacturing fake Egyptian cotton sheets.
It appears that there has been a shortage of Egyptian cotton. According to Quartz India, cotton production has declined in Egypt due to the rising expense of growing it and the cancellation of subsidies that were offered by the government. This created a situation where production could not keep up with the demand.
Welspun India Ltd began using other types of cotton to manufacture bed linen, but continued labeling the products as Egyptian Cotton. Welspun is the producer of Egyptian cotton sheets sold at Target stores under the name Fieldcrest.
Target issued a press release on August 19, 2016, stating that it had investigated and confirmed that linen that it sold under the Fieldcrest brand from August 2014 through July 2016 were not made of Egyptian cotton. Target stated “this was a clear violation of both Target’s Code of Conduct and our Standards of Vendor Engagement, and was contrary to the high ethical standards to which we hold ourselves, and our vendors.”
As a result of the deception, Target is terminating its relationship with Welspun, and has offered a gift card refund to any customers that purchased the linen between the dates mentioned above. Any customers that have not been notified may complete a form on its website.
Note that Welspun also provides Egyptian cotton linen to other retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, JC Penney and Maceys. While Walmart has stated it will refund the price of the sheets to customers that purchased them, Bed Bath & Beyond stated in August that it would investigate and act accordingly. To date, it has not issued a press release or any other information about its investigation or if it will offer refunds to its customers.
On August 29, 2016, a class action lawsuit, Abbott v. Welspun India Ltd. et al, in the New York Southern District Court. The allegations are that Welspun marketed Egyptian cotton linen that was not made with inferior materials rather than Egyptian cotton. The plaintiffs are seeking, among other damages, restitution and punitive damages. Information related to joining the class will be provided if the lawsuit is certified as a class action.
Some Welspun vendors are taking action to correct the problem while others seem to be dragging their feet. It is bad enough that a manufacturer would attempt to fool the public by providing inferior products that it touts as superior, but vendors that are aware of the issue and do nothing are just as bad. If you have purchased Egyptian cotton sheets, it would be wise to check the manufacturer and, if Welspun, approach the vendor to determine whether it will provide you with a refund.