Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lord & Taylor deceived customers with fake reviews


By/ David Schepp/ MoneyWatch/ March 15, 2016

Consumers who are into fashion increasingly turn to social media to keep up with the latest trends. Trouble is, it can be hard to distinguish a trend that reflects changing public taste from one that is manufactured to make a buck.

Take venerable Lord & Taylor. The nation's oldest department store chain, a unit of Canadian retailer Hudson's Bay Co., paid 50 online fashion "influencers" $1,000 to $5,000 to post Instagram pictures of themselves wearing the same dress without making it clear they were being paid to promote the item, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

The agency also said Lord & Taylor paid Nylon, an online fashion magazine, to post an article on its website and its Instagram account to talk up the dress, which was made for the chain's 2015 Design Lab clothing collection.

"But again, there were no disclosures saying it was paid advertising," the FTC said in a post on its blog. "So while it looked like the magazine was giving an independent, fashion-forward recommendation about this dress, it was actually an ad in disguise."

Lord & Taylor is settling the agency's charges that it deceived customers by paying for so-called native advertisements without proper disclosure. Under the FTC's consent order, the company is barred from suggesting that paid ads are from an independent source. It also must ensure that any influencers it pays to promote a product make clear that their endorsement has been bought and paid for.


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