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Congress unanimously passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect people’s ability to share in any forum their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct. Some companies had been using contract provisions – including their online terms and conditions – to threaten to sue consumers or penalize them financially for posting negative reviews or complaints. The new law makes that illegal.

FTC staff just issued Consumer Review Fairness Act: What Businesses Need to Know with to-the-point guidance on what the law means for your company.

 

89 Comments


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Gregory Pistone
February 21, 2017
I personally just take the good with the bad. But I know for sure a lot of my negative are bogus, from competitors, my ex- wife, etc. What kind of protection can you offer us for anonymous, bogus, negative, dishonest reviews?
Scott Johnson
February 22, 2017

In reply to by Gregory Pistone

You can't. People have to understand some of the comments come from the sources you listed.
Jared Brees
April 25, 2018

In reply to by Scott Johnson

That's not true at all. In the article linked above, FTC clearly says you can remove fake reviews.
Viktoria
February 16, 2019

In reply to by Jared Brees

Truthful and accurate reviews are vital to make informed decisions for the future. This law holds corporations and companies accountable for wrong-doing and that is why we have Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Fake reviews are an excuse to remove truthful and accurate reviews no longer gets a free pass because I can assure those that remove content because it will hurt profits for their wrong-doing will soon be censored, out of business, and filing Chapter 7 and 11. This law holds them 100 percent responsible and accountable.
Julia
March 06, 2019

In reply to by Viktoria

I was really hoping that in America we have freedom of speech, but the reality is proving opposite. in the past two month I was falsely accused In wrong-doing, there was a RO filed against me, I got blocked on YELP because I dared to say truth about some big corporations, and of course they did not like it, so I got blocked! I did file reports with FTC, AG, DA, etc... Did anyone help? NO! What can I, a single women do? I did read the laws and regulations, and based on all the evidence I am 100% correct, BUT, I have no money and cant hire powerful attorney, that's why they violated my rights one more time and took my ability to speak! I am not sure what to d in situations like this. Who can protect citizens from the terror of wealthy business owners?
Andy
July 04, 2019

In reply to by Julia

Im in Australia and I wrote a bad review on a lawyers website, he sued me, i ignored the court case because i thought it was so rdiuclous and the court ordered me to pay 4500$ for his legal fees and to take the google review down. What an absolute joke. im not taking the review down or paying him. All i said was that he was untrustworthy and a liar. I didnt make something outrageous up. This shifty lawyer is using his legal know how to intimidate people into taking their reviews down. This gives his google star rating a false figure.
Flipper
September 24, 2020

In reply to by Andy

i got with an atty and he lied. Once i paid the money, all the lies and i know what he told me. Doesn't surprise me
PAUL
July 08, 2021

In reply to by Andy

I'm in Australia- and the same thing happened to me. I didn't give a nasty review- just an honest one and was threatened with legal action. The business even went out of their way to find my private address to send the threatening letter to me. It seems that unless you give a glowing review- you get sued!
D Gopal
September 22, 2019

In reply to by Julia

We are going through same. It is not fair to honest business leaders to accept fake reviews and online harassments.
Mb
May 20, 2020

In reply to by D Gopal

I agree. Freedom of speech is subjective. However, malicious intent, fake reviews and behind the review threat to continue negative postings unless paid are illegal and extortion. Unfortunately the business owner then receives no assistance and has their freedom of speech taken.
Mark johnson
December 20, 2020

In reply to by Julia

Same thing happened to me; honest review on dirty attorney in California. I was honest did not curse or name call mysteriously Yelp kept blocking me. America is not free speech anymore.
Johnny chang
October 30, 2021

In reply to by Julia

You got a restraining order? I keep getting threat warnings for ro. It’s best not to write candid reviews
Donald Faulkner
January 06, 2021

In reply to by Scott Johnson

But wouldn't you agree that there is a need for consumer protection laws when we have companies like Ebay That run their review Bored Allow them to falsely advertise Everybody gets a 5-star rating that's impossible.
Stick bogart
May 19, 2018

In reply to by Gregory Pistone

When it comes to review sites I think negative review should never be permanently posted. The business and a consumer come together and resolve an issue the website should professionally take the lead and remove the negative review to edit it or remove it. Nothing should be permanent what it comes to negative issues. I was with a popular review reporting website for 15 years. And I felt that I had a way to do better I’m going to allow businesses to post positive reviews as much as they want on the website is somebody wants to make a comment the person that posted the positive review gets to approve or decline any comments that make me posted on the positive review a business owner posted. Businesses will be able to be in control of their reputation and that’s a good thing
Eric
November 02, 2018

In reply to by Stick bogart

I do not agree Stick. I do agree that business should be coordinating / negotiating with the consumer to try and get the negative item resolved and that is of course always good. What I disagree with is that in some cases the resolution is not what it should be and in some cases the company pressures the consumer to remove it. In some rare instances there are veiled threats. SO to say that all negative situations would go through this process is really not entirely correct because (as in my case) the company gave me only a placebo and now I am getting lawyers to review this situation.
Lulu
March 10, 2019

In reply to by Eric

I strongly agree ,I understand that word of mouth is a main contribution to business therefore I believe it falls on the business owner to keep all above board and professional ,it is my right to know what I will be getting for my money whether it will be a good service or not if a business owner is offering something they cannot provide their for leaving customers disappointed and in some cases quite distraught when it comes to things that you just can't cover up eyebrows hair eyelashes if something has gone seriously wrong because of unprofessionalism ,I believe that the world we live in today the communication internet and access to information surely that should all be accessible to the customer.... for business owners to take a full payment for something they just cannot provide is daylight Robbery I would like to see more protection for the customers as being victim of negligence and unprofessional , when having my hair lightened and it went horribly wrong, I felt like I had no Direction or support as to what to do when my hair is snapping off just a couple of inches from my scalp causing me to have to cut a fringe in just to hide the snapped hair ,my hair was long beautiful and in very good condition before visiting the hairdressers when I complained all I received was half of my money back I do not find this acceptable she ruined my appearance my self-confidence and took the choice to wear my hair in a beautiful manner was taken away and my hair stayed in a bun for more than a year... so I've paid her good money too literally melt my hair off my head ,
Mario
February 15, 2019

In reply to by Stick bogart

I very much disagree with Stick. I took my car in for a detail at a local shop. I was totally ripped off. I posted a review and invited the merchant to reply and I would consider editing my review. If the merchant decides just to consider the theft of "one-half on my tax return" as "water under the bridge" then my negative review should stand. This merchant has a five star rating on site, totally false and misleading. I have made sure that all the competitor detailers would notice the review .
KIMBERLY
September 17, 2020

In reply to by Gregory Pistone

I want to post a new comment but the link is not allowing me. I posted a negative review to a dentist I have seen regarding a 200$ bill for a cleaning and how every time we go there they add more work to the list, I think they are committing insurance fraud, and I posted I would like to report them to the Maryland board of dentistry. they have contacted my husband to try and "talk" to me to take it down. they have even wiped our bill to 0$ and have asked a second time for me to take down the comment. Are they allowed to ask me to remove the comment?
Melanie
June 09, 2021

In reply to by KIMBERLY

Yes they can kindly ask you to remove your review but they cannot retaliate, pressure you or bribe you to remove a review.
Art headrick
October 15, 2020

In reply to by Gregory Pistone

I posted an honest review to a company I wont mention for fear of my life but I was warned by the Owner to take it off or id have the law around constanly and the last week ive its happened and i was ultrasonicly tagged i tried to give in but i have no way to do so im scared i asked them for help to resolve this but the refused i need help
AMRV
November 09, 2020

In reply to by Gregory Pistone

Not only that, but Yelp chooses to sensor reviews. At the bottom of the reviews about a business, there will be a gray faded text stating (in our case) "4 other reviews that are not currently recommended" -- 3 of those reviews are five star. Where can I leave a review for Yelp?
Malka
February 21, 2017
What about social review sites that ban good reviews like YELP. They deliberately ban the good reviews so that businesses will buy their service.
Scott Johnson
February 22, 2017

In reply to by Malka

People should be aware that Yelp is a scam and ignore it.
Jt
March 07, 2017

In reply to by Malka

This works the way around as well. The ignore bad reviews.. not sure how to validate is the business is paying some kind of "advertising fee".
Helen
August 10, 2018

In reply to by Malka

I respond to the reviews for the business I work for and Yelp only shows the negative reviews to force the owner of the motel to advertise with them. Yelp is deliberately pushing good review to the bottom and promoting bad reviews. That is blackmail and consumer fraud. When is the FTC going to go after them?
Dinnell La Barbara
November 03, 2018

In reply to by Malka

Yes, this is true! Yelp is a scam .. they have removed 6 of my legitimate 5 star reviews because I will not pay them for advertising. Yelp should be removed from the internet.
Anna Angeline …
February 21, 2017
This is an excellent move that should bring a greater degree of fairness to the consumer. Now if only there would be action by the FCC towards the cable companies. Complaints do not go far since the cable companies have had their lobbyists on the job 24/7. When the FCC begins to demonstrate that they know who they've been established to protect maybe consumers will be heard.
Scott Johnson
February 22, 2017

In reply to by Anna Angeline …

The FCC has already taken action, you can use a satellite provider.
Ben
February 21, 2017
I posed a negative review of a roofing company on yelp and the company bribed yelp to remove it
Scott Johnson
February 22, 2017

In reply to by Ben

That's how Yelp works, it's a scam. Post your review again, or have somebody else post it. At least you can cause the roofing company more money.
Ken betro
May 15, 2020

In reply to by Stuck2

Yelp has deleted a couple of my reviews, with short rude response. When I called to ask for the customer response line on deleted reviews, there none available and they very rudely hang up you and you can even hear then saying bad things about you. Yelp is totally fake reviews geared towards the business only!
Yung chi
February 22, 2017
GOOD to all consumer
big ed
June 10, 2017
tried to sue tampa general for false advertising for which they did with dates and time.FTC said i had no case and sent me to a medical site that has nothing to do with false advertising.JUST SHOWS HOW GOVERNMEMT HELPS ITS OWN AND SAYS TOO BAD LITTLE GUY EVEN IF YOUR A VETERAN.WAST OF TAX PAYER DOLLARS AS USUAL BECAUSE IT IS THE GOVERMENT AND THATS WHAT THEY DO! PLAIN AND SIMPLE! SAD!
legal eye
June 12, 2017
In the case of comments posted about legal services, people may post negative (or factually inaccurate) reviews due to the outcome they wished, but the law does not support, and which may be a result of their misguided actions. To wit: angry that the case did not resolve in their favor. Due to the confidential nature of the business, the firm is constrained from divulging the facts to contest the posting. Trolls win.
Mike Sanders
November 15, 2018

In reply to by legal eye

As a paralegal trained in California I want to point out your post has some disinformation. Confidentiality only protects legal content, that is, the work a lawyer does for his/her client. It does not protect basic information about a case. Therefore, since confidentiality applies to both sides of the case, that is, both parties have to follow confidentiality, the review of one party-their information- can be contested by the other party without violating a confidentiality agreement. After all, they are just giving basic information, not the lawyer's work product!
Kasey C.
October 18, 2017
My pool builder has a clause in their contract prohibiting buyers from posting a review. It says if we don’t remove the review we will be fined $3500 & if we won’t pay they will report us to all 3 credit bureaus. Will signed in April 2017. I posted a review based on their poor customer service & was notified by the builder that I had violated our contract. I did not read the contract in its entirety when we signed all of the paperwork, which I know is my bad, but that doesn’t change the fact that this law prohibits that from even being in the contract. Once they told me, I read the contract & let them know about the CRFA. They won’t budge & are now threatening legal action against me. I don’t want a legal battle but I do want to keep other consumers from having to deal with the 6 month headache that we did. I thought that was the point of this law.
PLo
October 21, 2017

In reply to by Kasey C.

everything I've read on this law is to counter sue for whatever they're suing you for. you can also file a complaint with the state AG and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who will fine them for violating this act. it's also probably advisable to contact the BBB.
CLINYC
December 11, 2017
I want to share my own story and are seeking for advice and help!!! I wrote a bad, but honest, review on Zillow towards a real estate agent who helped me bought a co-op in queens NY. She sued me for defamation about half year ago and I have spent almost $10,000 hiring the lawyer to defend myself. However, it seems like there are more costly steps to go before my case will be ready to be sent to the judge. My lawyer contacted me today and informed me that, to continue my case under the condition to keep my review, I need to be prepared to spend more money. I have not too much money left, but I don't want to give up on fighting to keep my honest review. Is my case protected by "Consumer Review Fairness Act"? If yes, how can I use it to protect myself? Any advice would be highly appreciated!
Carlos V. Bx NY
December 22, 2017
Seven months ago I posted on facebook, my opinion what I felt was a general dissatisfaction of ongoing chronically subpar, poor musical selections, music that was boring and inappropriate for our type of dance. There was a retaliation laughed against me by a couple of DJs and a couple of popular dance studios. I was told I wasn't welcomed there any longer. They galvanized their sources to have me outed from dancing at these parties or locations. I've made attempts to apologize, make amends and ask for forgiveness but the olive branch was rejected. I was running a party back in those days myself, one of the DJs convinced the studio owner to stop my party and he reopened it under a different name on my night, thereby taking over my party.... this resulted in a loss of income for me. Rumors and vicious lies were spread about me and I've not been allow to partake in this particular dance circuit. Note, I did not speak badly, cursed, threaten or caused physical harm, no violence of any kind, to anyone. The is no reason whatsoever to be ostracized by here I am, all because of an honest review of their music. Do I have a legal recourse? Can I sue them for defamation of character, punitive damage, and force them to accept me back? Please help.
FTC Should Def…
January 24, 2018
Where is it written in the Constitution huge Federal Bureaucracies can't help individuals, instead of simply aggregating complaints? A complaint could be reviewed, and an official letter sent if there appears to be a law being violated. It could include a disclaimer to keep the private lawyas from getting • hurt in case they're worried about losing fees to the Gov.
Emily
January 29, 2018
So a MLM company that sells shampoos and “hair products” are constantly threatening users for posting their experiences with the products (hair loss, breakage, dried out hair, scabs, etc) and lots of stylists as well voicing concern and in return they have attorney send letters threatening lawsuits if they don’t retract the negative reviews online with a scripted letter stating they lied about their review, SO IS THAT LEGAL?
michael ginex
February 03, 2018
I recently filed a complaint with the FTC against a large computer peripherals manufacturer.. Can they sue me for doing that?
Misty
February 14, 2018
Direct sales beauty product company has products that have caused adverse reactions, one shares their story, experience, time line, and photos of before and after product use and gives negative review according to their truth, and the said company starts sending letters of cease and desist to those consumers sharing their story. Essentially threatening to be sued if the consumer does not take the posts down and publicly retract all said info even if it’s that’s person’s true experience and review. Can that company do that to the consumers or reps that have left the company due to said reactions that are sharing their truth regarding the product? What protection is there for the consumer in this case?
Franklin
April 24, 2018
A company blackmailed me into verbal agreement on a recorded line that i wouldn’t post any negative reviews about them in order to get a refund which i was owed........can they get away with that??
Ida F
April 25, 2018
I have posted reviews on FB and Yelp and they have been removed. I still have the emails from yelp telling me so. I’m trying to let everyone know about a particular dentist who wrongfully/neglected to properly advise/treat my husband for a sore on his tongue during 2 separate 6 month visits. Ultimately it was cancer detected in August 2017 and now he’s deceased April 2018. How fair is it that he gets away with it and I loose my husband.

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