Update: 3:14 p.m. ET (Jan. 25, 2022) – A representative for Fashion Nova provided a statement to VIBE regarding the settlement, which reads in part: “The Federal Trade Commission’s allegations against Fashion Nova are inaccurate and deceptive. Fashion Nova never suppressed any website reviews, and it immediately and voluntarily addressed the website review issues when it became aware of them in 2019. Fashion Nova is highly confident that it would have won in court and only agreed to settle the case to avoid the distraction and legal fees that it would incur in litigation.”
Read the full statement and original story below…
Popular fast fashion brand Fashion Nova is obligated to pay millions of dollars to the Federal Trade Commission after it was revealed the company suppressed negative reviews. According to a press release issued by the FTC, the brand is required to pay $4.2 million for blocking the words of customers who had less than favorable opinions of the merchandise.
According to the complaint, Fashion Nova installed a third-party online product review management interface that allowed high-rated reviews to be automatically published, yet required an approval process for lower ratings. Between 2015 and mid-November 2019, the retailer allowed four- and five-star reviews to post, but did not approve or publish hundreds of thousands of lower-starred reviews.
The FTC noted the case is the first involving a company’s efforts to conceal negative customer reviews.
“Deceptive review practices cheat consumers, undercut honest businesses, and pollute online commerce,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Fashion Nova is being held accountable for these practices, and other firms should take note.”
Under the proposed settlement, Fashion Nova will pay the hefty settlement specifically for the harm its customers incurred, according to the press release. The brand will also be prohibited from propagating misrepresentations of any customer reviews or other endorsements, and must post on its website all customer reviews of products currently being sold. The only exceptions to the policy are reviews that contain obscene, sexually explicit, racist, or unlawful content and reviews that are unrelated to the product or customer services (such as shipping or returns).
Fashion Nova is a popular brand known for providing trending pieces, often mirroring designer items for lower prices. Rappers such as Cardi B and Megan The Stallion have collaborated with the brand on record-breaking collections and philanthropic efforts. Unfortunately, this latest settlement is not the first time Fashion Nova has been ordered to pay the FTC.
In April 2020, Fashion Nova was ordered to pay $9.3 million to settle FTC charges alleging it did not properly notify consumers and give them the chance to cancel their orders when it failed to ship merchandise in a timely manner, and that it illegally used gift cards to compensate consumers for unshipped merchandise instead of providing refunds.
“The same rules that we have enforced for nearly 50 years against catalogers and other mail-order companies also apply to online sellers,” Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said of the settlement. “Online retailers need to know that our Mail Order Rule requires them to notify customers in the event of shipping delays and offer the right to cancel with a full refund—not just a gift card or a store credit.”
Fashion Nova also faced criticism for its labor and manufacturing practices in a 2019 New York Times report detailing unsavory factory conditions for underpaid workers. According to the report, the United States Labor Department found Fashion Nova clothing was made in factories that owed hundreds of workers a total of $3.8 million in back pay at the time.
In 2021, model Jodie Joe expressed her grievances with Fashion Nova on social media. “I really wish FashionNova would let me out of this slave contract so i can be great. I’ve invested so much time and energy into a company that hates us/me,” she wrote on a temporary Instagram Story upload.
Read the full statement provided to VIBE by Fashion Nova below:
“The Federal Trade Commission’s allegations against Fashion Nova are inaccurate and deceptive. Fashion Nova never suppressed any website reviews, and it immediately and voluntarily addressed the website review issues when it became aware of them in 2019. Fashion Nova is highly confident that it would have won in court and only agreed to settle the case to avoid the distraction and legal fees that it would incur in litigation.
The issue in this case was caused by Fashion Nova’s reliance on a reputable third-party enterprise software vendor, which offered an option to ‘autopublish’ various star ratings in a drop-down menu. Those that were not autopublished were filtered and could be individually reviewed and manually released. At one point in time, the company inadvertently failed to complete this process given certain resource constraints during a period of rapid growth. That issue was remedied several years ago and all previously unpublished reviews have now been posted to the extent they are actually about the product they were submitted for and do not contain profanity, do not contain threatening language and comply with other reasonable terms.
Fashion Nova continues to be an entrepreneurial led company solely focused on providing a great assortment of fashionable clothes at very affordable prices. It prides itself on knowing that 80% of its business comes from repeat customers and does its best to listen carefully to customer feedback every day and keep getting better in everything that it does.”