Fashion Nova to pay $4.2 million in FTC fines for critics

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Fashion Nova has agreed to pay a $4.2 million fine to settle allegations that it hid bad reviews of its clothes on its website, officials said Tuesday.

Known for its cheap fast fashion, partnerships with influencers and marketing with a distinct lack of freshness, the retailer has been accused by the Federal Trade Commission of blocking ratings of its products below four stars, misrepresenting reviews. The FTC, an independent government agency, said it was the first time it had sued a company for failing to provide customers with negative reviews of their products.

“Deceptive review practices mislead consumers, undermine honest businesses, and pollute online commerce,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, said in a statement. “Fashion Nova is held accountable for these practices, and other companies should take notice.”

According to the FTC, from late 2015 through November 2019, the Los Angeles-based online retailer never posted hundreds of thousands of bad reviews and ratings for its apparel and accessories. At the time, Fashion Nova used review 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 provided to BuzzFeed News, Fashion Nova said the FTC’s claims were “inaccurate and misleading,” saying it “never removed the website reviews” and resolved the issue as soon as it became aware of the issue in 2019.

“Fashion Nova is very confident that it would have won in court and only agreed to settle the case to avoid the distraction and legal costs it would incur in the event of a dispute,” the statement read.

The issue arose due to its reliance on “a reputable third-party enterprise software vendor,” the company said. Fashion Nova “inadvertently failed to complete” the selection process for reviews that needed to be manually assessed and posted “given certain resource constraints during a period of rapid growth,” the statement said.

The company said the issue was fixed several years ago and all reviews that weren’t previously posted on its website are now viewable, except for reviews that are off-topic or contain profanity or language. threatening.

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 entrepreneurially driven company solely focused on providing a great assortment of fashionable apparel at very affordable prices,” the company said. “He takes pride in knowing that 80% of his business comes 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 marketing practices. In 2020, the FTC fined the retailer $9.3 million to settle allegations that it failed to notify customers and gave them the option to cancel their orders when it was not able to ship orders in a timely manner. The settlement also resolved allegations that Fashion Nova violated federal trade rules by offering customers gift cards instead of refunds for orders they never received.

Earlier in the pandemic, the company was ridiculed for “messy” marketing copy that told people to spend their COVID stimulus checks on its clothes.

“Fashion Nova is so wrong for this, the stimulus isn’t for shopping, it’s for people who need it during these tough times, it’s so ignorant,” a A 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 “lewd, sexually explicit, racist, or illegal content,” the FTC said. The commission is also contacting companies that offer review management services to warn them that hiding negative customer reviews violates federal law.

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