In an era where social media influencers are using their platforms to push everything from supplements and apparel to customized diets and fitness routines, it’s worth remembering that business ethics don’t always accompany the rocking bodies on Instagram.
Take for instance the case of Brittany Dawn, the Dallas-based influencer who boasts more than half a million followers on Instagram and about 840,000 across all of her social platforms. Dawn has leveraged her social media stardom into a career by promoting a fitness program that’s been sold to thousands.
But, as Yahoo Sports reports, that program over-promised and under-delivered, and some of Dawn’s followers are now claiming they’ve been scammed.
Dawn pushes personalized food and fitness plans for prices as high as $300. Those plans are supposed to include weekly check-ins and support from Dawn herself. Customers who purchased plans, however, did not receive what was promised, and now are calling her out on social media, in the press, and even lodging complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
“Brittany falsely advertises her services and does not follow through with the promises,” one BBB complaint reads.
“I didn’t receive what I paid for by any stretch of the imagination,” says another.
The complaints focus on Dawn’s failure to provide any level of personalization and customization, and on her failure to provide the substantive coaching and feedback she promises to deliver.
In many cases, both the plans and the feedback were generic. Others said that when they would ask questions or seek advice, they’d be disappointed by the results.
“Not only were the responses from her well beyond the promised time frame,” one BBB complaint reads, “they also didn’t bother to answer any questions or address any of my concerns. They were generic responses like ‘doing great, keep going girl!’ and the like.”
Dawn posted a video to YouTube addressing the concerns, claiming that she bit off more than she could chew.
Video viewers aren’t buying it. Many have called for refunds or legal action.
An online petition titled “Stop Brittany Dawn Fitness Scams” has nearly 9,000 signatures.
Traditional fitness centers and clubs would be wise to note the case of Brittany Dawn as a "what not to do" situation. When marketing personal training and diet coaching plans, be sure to have the resources on hand to support clients to help them actually achieve their goals. The Dawn story should also serve as a warning to fitness consumers to beware of social media snake oil salesmen and Insta-scams.