Detergent prices rinsing out consumers’ wallets

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Detergent prices rinsing out consumers’ wallets

Consumers buying laundry detergent products for drum-type washing machines may find themselves being overcharged, the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) said yesterday.

Based on its research, the KCA came to the conclusion that some of the products have been overly priced compared to their cleaning capability.

Manufacturers responded by condemning the agency’s testing process and what they described as biased content of its latest consumer report.?

The KCA ran tests on 16 detergents, 10 liquid-based and six powder-based, to determine their washing ability, including how much color run and fade they produce on garments.

This marks the ninth in a series of consumer reports comparing the quality and prices of products to be released by the government-run Fair Trade Commission and the KCA.

The report began by comparing the cheapest detergent product by E-Mart’s own private brand Dr. Fabric with that of Henkel Homecare Korea’s Persil Power Gel, the most expensive brand in the country that holds the biggest market share.

The result showed the two products fared similarly in tests. Dr. Fabric was found to have a laundering capability of 27.2 percent, while Persil Power Gel had 27.6 percent. Both are powder-based, meaning they were both significantly below the average reading of 45.2 percent.

The term refers to what degree each product removes pollutants, with a reading of 50 percent meaning that half have been removed.

However, the latter product was found to be over four times more expensive. Dr. Fabric costs 63 won (5 cents) per wash - calculated as 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of laundry - while Persil Power Gel costs 255 won.

Other products were also deemed overpriced. Yuhan’s Areumdaun Detergent costs consumers 102 won per wash, despite its low washing capability of 19.8 percent, while the same figures for Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea’s Power Clean All in One were 104 won and 19.4 percent.

The most expensive product was found to be 4.6 times more expensive than the cheapest, but its performance was only 1.3 times better.

The manufacturers reacted angrily to the survey, based on the argument that its judging criteria were too limited.

It did not, for example, take into account whether the products were made of expensive, eco-friendly materials, nor the vast expenses laid out on R&D just to raise the product’s cleaning ability by 2 or 3 percent, they said. The report just focused on prices rather than how these were determined, they added.

More detailed information is available on the smart consumer Web site (www.smartconsumer.go.kr).

By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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