Fashion Nova blocked negative customer reviews, FTC says

Fashion Nova will pay $4.2 million to settle allegations that the online retailer blocked the posting of negative customer reviews on its website, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday in announcing the first such case for the company. ‘agency.

The California retailer, which primarily sells its “fast fashion” products online, removed reviews with ratings below four out of five stars, the FTC alleged in its complaint.

According to the agency, Fashion Nova used a third-party company to automatically post four- and five-star reviews, but withheld more critical consumer reviews for the company’s approval. From late 2015 to November 2019, Fashion Nova did not approve or publish the most negative reviews, which number in the hundreds of thousands, according to the FTC.

Fashion Nova dismissed the FTC’s claims as “inaccurate and misleading,” saying it resolved the review issues when it became aware of them in 2019.

“All previously unpublished reviews have now been published so long as they actually relate to the product for which they were submitted and do not contain profanity, contain no threatening language, and comply with other reasonable terms”, a spokesperson said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. .

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The company believes it would have prevailed in court but chose to settle the case to avoid distraction and legal costs, the spokesperson added.

The FTC’s first case involving a company’s efforts to hide bad online reviews of its products should be a wake-up call to other retailers, agency officials said.

“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.”

The settlement is not Fashion Nova’s first with the FTC. In April 2020, the company agreed to pay $9.3 million to settle charges that it did not let consumers cancel unshipped orders in a timely manner and that it illegally offered gift cards to the instead of cash for unshipped goods.

The FTC also said it was sending letters to 10 companies offering review management services warning them of deceptive practices.

In October, the agency warned hundreds of advertisers, retailers and other businesses against posting fake reviews and misleading recommendations, noting that the rise of social media has exacerbated the problem.

“The FTC’s work on customer reviews is part of its broader efforts to combat deception in the ever-changing landscape of online advertising, including the growing use of social media influencers to sell products. and services,” said Mike Atleson, an attorney with the FTC Division. advertising practices, said in a post on the agency’s website.

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