Savage x Fenty has been “engaged in deceptive marketing and illegal business practices” that includes luring women into pricey $49.95-a-month memberships without their knowledge, according to consumer watchdog group TruthinAdvertising.org.
In complaints to the Federal Trade Commission and Santa Cruz, California, District Attorney’s office, Tina.org claims the underwear company Rihanna founded in 2017 entices shoppers with severely discounted items, like a $25 bra and underwear set decorated with red and blue lips that’s advertised on Instagram for Valentine’s Day.
But the $25 price is only available to subscribers. The real price is $81 —a fact that is only made clear “in a barely-legible, tiny, white font,” and which disappears from online ads after a few seconds, the watchdog says.
Customers who choose the “VIP” price get slammed at checkout when Savage x Fenty discreetly adds the monthly membership to shopping bags without displaying how much it will cost, Tina.org says.
“Because no information about the ‘Savage x Monthly’ membership is provided on the screen, consumers may be misled into believing that the membership is free with no strings attached,” according to its FTC complaint.
Indeed, customers have been complaining about being blindsided by Savage X Fenty’s membership fees for more than a year, the group said.
“I bought from this company once because of a sale, I did enjoy what I got. HOWEVER, WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE SAVAGEXFENTY USED MY DEBIT CARD INFORMATION TO SIGN ME UP FOR THEIR MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION. this is a VIP package that costs $49.95 a month. I did not want or authorize the making of this account for me. 5 months later (because I do not use my debit card often and don’t check transaction history often) I had 5 months and $250 missing from my account. I never wanted this VIP package and never authorized SavagexFenty to sign me up for it,” one customer wrote to the Better Business Bureau in October, according to Tina.org’s investigation.
“I canceled my account. 4 months later they charge [sic] me again and said I was still a VIP…I have to change my bank account…” another customer complained.
TINA.org’s complaints take especially sharp aim at Rihanna’s e-commerce partner, TechStyle, whose closthing line Fabletics, which has ties to actress Kate Hudson, was dinged in 2014 for deceptive advertising.
“Of note, TechStyle Inc.’s co-founder and co-CEO Adam Goldenberg is no stranger to deceptive marketing or to the FTC,” TINA.org’s FTC complaint reads.
Three of TechStyle companies paid California regulators $1.8 in a 2014 settlement, in which they admitted no fault. Other TechStyle-affiliated companies paid $46.5 million that same year to the FTC for deceptive marketing of a weight-loss supplement called Sensa, TINA.org said.