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Image: Fashion Nova

Fashion Nova has reached a nearly $2 million settlement with prosecutors in four counties in California after repeatedly running afoul of a state law that requires companies to ship orders to consumers within 30 days. In furtherance of the settlement, which was announced on Thursday, the Southern California-based fast fashion giant agreed to pay $250,000 in restitution to the customers effected, along with $1.5 million in penalties and costs in order to shake the charges brought against it by the District Attorneys of Los Angeles, Alameda, Napa and Sonoma counties.

In a complaint filed with the Alameda County Superior Court this week, the District Attorneys of Los Angeles, Alameda, Napa and Sonoma Counties accused Fashion Nova of  “violating consumers’ rights by repeatedly failing to fulfill and ship orders within the legally-mandated 30-day timeframe,” while also failing to provide them adequate shipping delay notices.

California state law – and the Federal Trade Commission’s updated Mail Order Rule – requires that an order placed on the Internet be shipped to the consumer within thirty days of the order being completed, and if a company fails to ship the product within that time, it “must either provide a refund, or take some other action, such as sending the buyer a written notice regarding the delay,” says Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. In accordance with California state law, such “delay notices” must specify the expected duration of the delay and an offer of a refund, upon request, among other things.

Fashion Nova allegedly failed to abide by the law on both accounts, according to the District Attorneys’ complaint, neither shipping orders within the mandated window nor providing consumers with the appropriate delay notices for a period of time that continued through “at least through April 2018.”

More than that, the 13-year old company, which is known for its high turnover of inexpensive, trendy garments and accessories (sometimes as soon as mere hours after a look has been worn by a celebrity), allegedly failed to adequately disclose its return policy on its website, where a majority of its sales occurred, which is also required by law, according to the District Attorneys’ filing.

Such breaches of California state law landed an already-embattled Fashion Nova – which came under fire this week as a result of a New York Times expose detailing the workings of the Los Angeles-based contractors enlisted to manufacture its affordable wares are being paid as little as $2.77 per hour – thereby landing itself on the receiving end of litigation.

“These types of consumer protection laws in California are on the books to make sure retailers treat their customers in an equitable and professional manner,” O’Malley said on Thursday. “When consumers place an order over the Internet, they are entitled to receive the items promptly or get a legally adequate explanation why they haven’t.”

Napa County Deputy District Attorney Katy Yount, echoed this notion, stating, “Online shoppers should feel confident that the retailers with whom they do business will deliver what they promise when they promise, within the bounds of California law.” She noted the District Attorneys’ “consumer protection action not only ensures that, but also protects retailers who expend time and money to play by the rules.”

Without admitting any wrongdoing, Fashion Nova swiftly settled the case with the state officials, agreeing to pay up and to “make changes in its business practices,” according to the Los Angeles County’s District Attorney’s Office. Still yet, as a result of the settlement, which was approved by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Tara Desautels on Thursday, Fashion Nova is prevented from engaging in future legal missteps when it comes to the shipping of its products in the state.

As for Fashion Nova, a spokesman for the company said that “as an innovator and leader, we constantly strive to elevate our customers’ experience and similarly rectify any mistakes as quickly as possible,” noting that the “allegations at play date back to more than 18 months ago and were immediately addressed.”