Online retailer Fashion Nova is required to pay $4.2 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission case that alleges the company suppressed negative reviews of its products from being posted on its website.
The FTC announced the news on Tuesday in a press release, claiming Fashion Nova “misrepresented that the product reviews on its website reflected the views of all purchasers who submitted reviews, when in fact it suppressed reviews with ratings lower than four stars out of five.”
From late-2015 to November 2019, Fashion Nova allegedly used a third-party online product review management interface to post four and five-star reviews online, while blocking hundreds of thousands of negative reviews from appearing on its site.
“Suppressing a product’s negative reviews deprives consumers of potentially useful information and artificially inflates the product’s average star rating,” the FTC wrote in its complaint.
The case is the first brought by the FTC involving a company’s efforts to conceal negative customer reviews.
“Deceptive review practices cheat consumers, undercut honest businesses, and pollute online commerce,” Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “Fashion Nova is being held accountable for these practices, and other firms should take note.”
Under the proposed settlement, Fashion Nova will pay $4.2 million to the FTC for damages sustained by those affected from its misrepresentations of customer reviews. Moving forward, the company will also be required to post all reviews on its website of products being sold.