Fashion Nova has agreed to pay a $4.2 million fine to settle allegations that it hid bad reviews of its clothing on its website, officials said Tuesday.
Known for its cheap fast fashion, influencer partnerships and marketing with a distinct lack of freshness, the retailer has been accused by the Federal Trade Commission of blocking its product reviews below four stars, thereby misrepresenting reviews. The FTC, an independent government agency, said it was the first time it had sued a company for failing to give customers negative reviews of their products.
“Deceptive rating practices mislead consumers, undermine honest businesses, and pollute online commerce,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau. A statement. “Fashion Nova is being held accountable for these practices and other companies should take notice. †
According to the FTC, from late 2015 to November 2019, the Los Angeles-based online retailer never posted hundreds of thousands of bad reviews and ratings for its clothing and accessories. At the time, Fashion Nova used a rating management software that automatically posted four- and five-star reviews, but prevented lower star ratings from appearing on the site without company approval.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Fashion Nova said the FTC’s claims were “inaccurate and misleading”, “never deleted website reviews” and addressed the issue as soon as it became aware of the issue in 2019.
“Fashion Nova is confident it would have won in court and has only agreed to settle the case to avoid the distraction and legal costs it would incur in the event of a dispute,” the statement said.
The problem arose because it relied on “a reputable third-party business software provider,” the company said. Fashion Nova “accidentally did not complete the selection process for reviews that had to be manually reviewed and published” due to limited resources during a period of rapid growth,” the statement said.
The company said the issue was resolved several years ago and all reviews not previously posted to the website are now viewable, except those that are off-topic or contain profanity or threatening language.
The company declined to answer questions from BuzzFeed News about the third-party vendor and whether it still uses its software.
“Fashion Nova continues to be an entrepreneurial-driven company focused on offering a wide range of fashionable clothing at very affordable prices,” the company said. “He is proud to know that 80% of his sales come from repeat customers and does his best to listen carefully to customer feedback every day and keep improving in everything he does. †
This isn’t the first time Fashion Nova has come under fire from regulators — or the public — for its business and commercial practices. In 2020, the FTC fined the retailer $9.3 million to settle claims it failed to notify customers and gave them the option to cancel their orders when it was unable to fulfill orders in a timely manner. to send. The settlement also resolved allegations that Fashion Nova violated federal trade rules by offering customers gift cards in lieu of refunds for orders they never received.
Earlier in the pandemic, the company was ridiculed for “messy” text marketing telling people to spend their COVID stimulus checks on their clothes.
“Fashion Nova is so wrong about this, the incentive is not for shopping, it’s for people who need it in these difficult times, it’s so ignorant,” said one One Twitter user said:†
Under the settlement announced Tuesday, the retailer will be required to publish all customer reviews unless they are off-topic or contain “indecent, sexually explicit, racist or illegal content,” the FTC said. The commission also contacts companies that offer review management services to “warn” them about hiding negative customer reviews that violate federal law.