The invention of the Internet back in the late 1960s eventually led to the start of a dangerous love affair we all know too well — online shopping. It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to threaten your life and safety by actually stepping out into the stores to shop during Black Friday. Your limited edition 70 percent-off leather jacket can be bought online easily with just the click of a button. While it’s extremely convenient to lounge around in pajamas and spend a Sunday window-shopping on your laptop at home, online shopping has its own perils. The VIP members of Kate Hudson’s athletic-wear company Fabletics will certainly vouch for that.
Customers have plenty to say about the way Fabletics operates, and oh boy are they angry. Facebook user Diane Felton took to social media to update her status, saying, “What’s the matter Kate? Did you run out of film roles and residuals??? I guess stealing from the ‘little people’ is okay by you!!! Shame on you!” Felton’s rage and personal attack on Hudson stems from Fabletics allegedly scamming its users into obtaining a dubiously named “VIP Membership”. The membership promises customers an attractive offer of purchasing a whole active wear outfit at just $25. Any light shopper knows that getting even a simple sports bra for under $25 is a task — an offer of a full outfit for $25 seems to good to be true.
Turns out, after subscribing to get the outfit, users are automatically charged on a monthly basis and this cycle is hard to opt-out of. The membership offers no further benefits. It is simply a ploy to trap users into a never-ending cycle of losing money. In order to get out of the hellhole, customers have to make a phone call, and users’ comments suggest that the experience is no different from Phoebe Buffay’s in the “Friends”episode “The One With The Screamer”.
A representative of Fabletics’ parent company JustFab claimed that the company’s business model and the flexibility of its subscription were made clear in their terms and conditions. Does anyone ever read those? Does the writer of the terms and conditions even read them? The whole incident begs the question: how responsible are we as consumers when we are “duped” by companies? I’m often baited into signing up for “free” access to magazines or memberships online, but the minute they ask for my credit card information, I refuse to sign up. As knowledgeable shoppers, it is our duty to read the specifications before providing a company with something as crucial as our credit card information. While I will admit that many other companies have membership offers that charge on a monthly basis, their terms and conditions are transparent, and unsubscribing from a membership takes merely a second. Fabletics is suspicious with its tedious unsubscribing process, and while the current number of people with an issue is the minority the number of complaints will continue to rise. It’s about time Fabletics take the matter into consideration and work on pleasing its wounded customers.
All in all, it is unlikely that the tale of Fabletics will hinder anyone from shopping online, but we must remain vigilant as shoppers and hope companies remain honest for the success of e-commerce to thrive.