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Fashion Nova required to pay millions to Federal Trade Commission for blocking negative reviews

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Fashion Nova

Online fashion retailer Fashion Nova will be required to pay $4.2 million to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations that it blocked negative reviews of its products from being posted to its website and will be prohibited from continuing to block them. 

The Trade Commission said the California-based retailer misrepresented that the product reviews on its website reflected the views of all buyers who submitted reviews, when in fact it suppressed reviews with ratings lower than four stars out of five.

“Deceptive review practices cheat consumers, undercut honest businesses, and pollute online commerce,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a statement. “Fashion Nova is being held accountable for these practices, and other firms should take note.”

According to the complaint, Fashion Nova used a third-party online product review management interface to automatically post four and five-star reviews to its website and hold lower-starred reviews for the company’s approval. 

Nonetheless, from late-2015 until November 2019, Fashion Nova never approved or posted hundreds of thousands of low stars and negative reviews. “Suppressing a product’s negative reviews deprives consumers of potentially useful information and artificially inflates the product’s average star rating,” said the commission in a statement. 

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Fashion Nova called the agency’s allegations against the company “inaccurate and deceptive.” It said it never suppressed any website reviews, and 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 company said in a statement to The Associated Press.

This is the second case the online retailer has with the FTC. Back in April 2020, the company agreed to pay  $9.3 million to settle allegations that the company failed to 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.

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