January 31, 2022
Last week, Fashion Nova was ordered to pay $4.2 million to settle allegations that it concealed unfavorable reviews on its website.
According to complaint from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the fast fashion site, known for its collaboration with artists Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, used a third-party review management tool that allowed four- and five-star reviews to automatically post to its site while requiring approval for less starred reviews.
The FTC said that from late 2015 through November 2019, hundreds of thousands of less-starred reviews were never approved or published. The case is the FTC’s first involving a company’s efforts to cover up negative customer reviews.
“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.”
Fashion Nova has denied any wrongdoing.
The FTC said it also sent letters to 10 other anonymous companies regarding possible deceptive online review practices and issued new direction for online retailers and review platforms. Beyond warning against writing or getting fake reviews, the FTC advises against fully disclosing whether there is an incentive behind the review, soliciting review submissions from likely positive reviewers only, and to treat negative reviews with greater scrutiny.
The internet is full of stories of consumers being offered refunds, gift cards, and money to remove negative reviews.
A the wall street journal Last year’s article detailed how some customers were offered double the value of their refund to remove a negative review. Third-party sellers are allowed to contract buyers through Amazon’s internal email service, although third-party software that matches customers’ shipping information allows some sellers to obtain customers’ email addresses.
The updated FTC guidelines also include a warning against using reputation management companies that promise to improve customer reviews and ratings. the FTC wrote, “Make sure you understand what they are doing. You can be held responsible for what they do on your behalf.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think fair play is in relation to breaking boundaries that define policies to reduce negative reviews online? Is it legitimate or shady to offer a refund to get a customer to delete a negative review or replace it with a positive one?
“If you open your business to receive the positive, you must also accept the negative.”