The Federal Trade Commission finalized the order on Monday regarding allegations that Fashion Nova blocked negative reviews on its website.
The agreement requires the fast fashion retailer to pay a $4.2 million settlement and prohibits the suppression or misrepresentation of customer reviews on its products.
In January, the agency accused Fashion Nova of blocking posts ranked with fewer than four out of five stars, then misrepresenting that the remaining feedback was representative of all reviews.
According to the complaint, the e-commerce company used a third-party tool that automated the process. The process reportedly immediately posted positive reviews and filtered out low-ranking ones on the website, pending company approval. However, over a four-year period between 2015 and 2019, the agency alleged that no approvals came for these posts, which numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
Untrustworthy online reviews dog numerous platforms, from Amazon to Yelp. They usually involve fake or disingenuous comments, as extensions of unscrupulous sellers or a vendetta against the business. However, they’re not genuine impressions about products or services, and they can harm the site’s reputation — which is why tech platforms put a lot of effort and investment into fighting them.
The case against Fashion Nova marked the FTC’s first alleging that a company dishonestly handled reviews. It may not be the last.
“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.”
In a statement emailed to WWD, Fashion Nova spokesman Terry Fahn denied any wrongdoing, but confirmed the settlement.
“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,” wrote Fahn. “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.”
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