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Rihanna's lingerie company accused of deceptive advertising

Music star Rihanna's lingerie company, Savage X Fenty, is under fire for allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing.

Truth in Advertising, a non-profit watchdog group, said in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission and Santa Cruz, California, district attorney that the online company promotes discounts that are available only after paying $50 a month for a VIP subscription.

"It deceptively promotes discounts and product prices that are only available to consumers who are bound to the company's membership program without clearly and conspicuously disclosing this fact in its marketing materials," the complaint alleges.

Rihanna, a pop and style icon whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, launched Savage X Fenty in May of 2018. 

A screenshot of a product on Savage X Fenty's website shows the company advertises its members-only price to all shoppers.

A visit to the company's online store shows that it automatically displays prices available only to VIP members. When a consumer adds an item to their shopping cart, Savage X Fenty automatically adds a VIP membership without clearly stating its $49.95 monthly fee or including that cost in the total price, Truth in Advertising said. 

The monthly membership is added to shoppers' carts, but its cost is not reflected in customers' totals.

Only the fine print at checkout informs shoppers of the monthly $49.95 charge. In order to access regular pricing — and sidestep the membership fee — shoppers must know to delete it from their carts. 

"By default, the company enrolls consumers into a negative option offer known as the Xtra VIP Membership without clearly and conspicuously disclosing all the material terms and conditions, such as needing to take affirmative action every month to avoid recurring monthly charges," the complaint alleges. 

Neither Savage X Fenty nor TechStyle immediately responded to CBS MoneyWatch's requests for comment.   

Truth in Advertising also claims that Savage X Fenty falsely states that monthly charges can be used as store credit at any time, when in reality shoppers must spend at least $49.95 to redeem it. That condition isn't disclosed in marketing materials, the group said. Additionally, the company uses social media influencers to promote its product without properly disclosing their company ties, according to the the complaint. 

This isn't the first time Savage X Fenty's parent company, TechStyle (formerly JustFab), has been in hot water over allegedly deceptive marketing practices. In 2014, it settled a misleading advertising lawsuit for $1.8 million. The judgment prohibited the company from engaging in so-called "negative-option" offers. 

Rihanna — who is the world's richest female musician — in 2019 sued her father for allegedly violating her trademark when he created a company called Fenty Entertainment. 

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