Being bestowed with Forbes' prestigious title of the richest female musician in the world is not enough to quell the fires of controversy.
Such is the case for Rihanna. The watchdog group Truth in Advertising has alerted the Federal Trade Commission to allege the star's lingerie company, Savage x Fenty, is engaging in shady business practices, reports Jezebel.
Shoppers on the lingerie company's website are unknowingly locked into a $49.95 "Xtra VIP" membership program after placing full-priced items into their online cart. The additional fees are not included in the total price of the consumer's purchase, and the choice to opt-out of the program appears to be inconspicuous. Consumers are then saddled with monthly or yearly fees. Shoppers have to be diligent about deleting the VIP option, but the fine print makes that difficult.
The company is also being called to task for not fully disclosing influencers directly connected to and marketing for the company.
"Unfortunately, Savage X Fenty’s diverse and inclusive marketing campaign is being used to lure unsuspecting consumers into unwanted negative-option offers that they are then having difficulty canceling, such deceptive and illegal business practices need to stop immediately," TINA.org Executive Director Bonnie Patten said in a statement.
Another kicker is the company's claim that monthly charges can be used as a store credit at any time — however, at least $49.95 must be spent in order to redeem the credit, reports CBS.
Despite the pop singer's line being lauded for its inclusivity and diversity while offering a great price point, its questionable practices, also called dark patterns, began to surface in late 2019 with Quartz being among the first to report. Dark patterns deceptively entice consumers to perform desired actions such as spending more than they intended or revealing information they wouldn't under more forthright circumstances.
The company isn't taking the allegations lightly and has spoken out.
"These accusations are false and based on misconceptions of our business,” Emma Tully, a representative for the line, told The New York Times.
"At Savage x Fenty, we believe strongly in transparency, which is why we provide multiple disclosures of membership terms throughout the shopping experience, within advertisements, and through our ambassador engagement policies," Tully said.
Savage x Fenty's parent company is TechStyle (formerly JustFab). In 2014, the company settled a misleading advertising lawsuit for $1.8 million. TechStyle was warned about ceasing the practice of what is dubbed negative-option offers.
The popular lingerie company was founded in 2017.