Direct-to-consumer website JustFab has been hit with an ASA ban for luring customers into a "subscription trap," via a promotion on its website.
The internet shoe club, which delivers accessories to consumers based on a subscription model of £35 per-month or alternatively allows them to purchase items as one-offs, has been wrapped by the watchdog for not making it clear that shoppers who joined its 'VIP club' were in fact enrolling in a monthly contract.
Four members of the public complained about promotions advertised on the landing and home pages of the retailer's website which encouraged visitors to buy shoes and select the VIP option at the checkout to receive an offer that would give them a sufficient discount
The complainants joined the JustFab as VIP members, and subsequently discovered that they had enrolled on a £35 per-month deal.
The brand, argued that new consumers would not become 'VIP' members upon simply registering on the website, and that terms and conditions were given following the completion of a "short style quiz", which incorporated those that were applicable to the VIP membership programme.
However, the regulator argued that one of the ads, which featured text on the upper and lower half of the page promoting the VIP membership service, said becoming a VIP member would save them money.
However, those pieces of text did not disclose or refer consumers to information that by becoming a “VIP” member they would be enrolling on a subscription contract where they would be charged a monthly fee of £35 unless they took specific action to avoid that cost.
As such, the ASA has warned the brand to ensure its advertising prominently presents the condition that consumers joining the website as special members would be enrolling on a subscription contract and the specific action they needed to take to avoid the monthly fee of £35.
The ad must not be shown again in its current form.
The ruling comes six months after the government announced plans to protect consumers from falling into so-called "subscription traps", when they sign up for free trials from providers.