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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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Tucker
May 06, 2018
I think the trick word there is “honest.” All too often, consumers attempt to extort money or free services or unreasonable discounts from a company under threat of mass postings of negative reviews. I know several business owner friends that this has happened to. Really, it’s extortion and several have filed police reports against the individuals harassing them. These same individuals then share with their friends just a tiny part of the story, prompting much indignation among the friends, who just have no idea what REALLY happened. There are certainly two sides to every story, and if something sounds outrageous, you are probably only being fed parts of the whole story. I usually look at the tone with which a negative review is written. If the writer sounds nuts, I disregard it. Perhaps people should think carefully before trying to damage the livelihood of a whole company of employees with a negative review. What is your end goal? Are you hoping that nobody will call that company, and the company will go out of business, and all the employees will lose their jobs? Because if that is your goal, perhaps you should consider your OWN sense of morals and ethics. Maybe someone should be writing a 1 star review on YOU for the whole world to see…
ruth dickey
June 13, 2018

In reply to by Tucker

really?, , as a hard working homeowner, if you've had a bad contractor type experience, ect., you should by law be able to give a real honest concern, out there for others to watch out for, that's why we need feedback before hiring, and if someone causes you bad problems, , you have everyright to express your concerns , so that others might , reconsider, and if that, 5 star licened ins. , company, should go out of business , so be it, they don't deserve anyones business, its outrageous, to think you can be sued , for being honest, after you've already been wronged., too many , bad irresponsible , , people in business, , , that's why good or bad reviews hardly get written on any business, , and that sucks for the wanting to be informed consumers.
Diana C.
May 17, 2018
And where can this be reported? A company that started a job, is threatening not to finish the job unless I take down a bad review...
Marion Anderson
July 07, 2018
Where do we go to file a complaint? Fitoru erased my honest, negative, nonabusive review and blocked me from facebook and messenger. I would like to file a complaint please.
Richard
July 25, 2018
What about Amazon deleting reviews all over the place based on nothing but a flawed algorithm? Personally I haven't reviewed on there for years but know others who have fallen foul to this. Even when Amazon do confess they were wrong and reinstate reviews the same thing just goes and happens again. So this law means what they are doing is illegal then?
Leon
August 10, 2018
I wrote a Yelp.com review on AT&T after which all my Yelp reviews were shadow banned. So I closed my Yelp account and opened a BBB ticket on AT&T. Free speech or socialism?
Paul
August 31, 2018
I am wondering, does this apply in any way to an online gaming forum, run by the company itself, who has engaged in censorship of negative criticism/feedback for the sole purpose of removing it from their boards? This sort of thing is pretty common among some of the more disreputable development studios. This is kind of a big deal if it is actually a valid use of this act.
Gem
September 29, 2018
So when I was looking for a broker as a new real estate agent I came across the one that had a provision listed on the independent contract agreement. The penalty that the agent has to pay for the removal of any negative reviews online and the expenses for staff efforts to do it, all in order to protect their reputation. Is this even legal? So the agent has to pay for the staff time, actual cost to remove it and the damages the review potentially causes. I decided not to go with this broker, I don’t think this is right. From the years of working in customer service I know customers often have highly subjective opinions on the matters they don’t have a complete knowledge of. If a business has to pay every time for each and every negative comment might as well consider not starting any business. Because in a healthy competitive marketplace there will always be positive and negative experiences regardless of the nature of your business.
JR
July 26, 2021

In reply to by Gem

Your comment sums up the truth and the bottom line: "In a healthy competitive marketplace there will always be positive and negative experiences regardless of the nature of your business." As has been demonstrated, there is a lot of coercion to post positive reviews; punitive responses to the most minor of negative critical reviews; and consumers will attempt to take advantage of the process, in order to get some form of reward, be it a "badge," or real goods. But any business who overreacts to minor criticism by slaying a consumer, (I think you would agree), not only damages themselves and their business, but brutal responses will outweigh all positives, which usually predominate.
Christy
October 05, 2018
We had a client post a bad review. When we we tried to post a reply, the company that the review was posted on, said that we were not allowed to post a reply per their policy. Does this law also protect the freedom of a company to reply to a review? If so what is the process for reminding them of this "Consumer Review Fairness Act"?
FTC Staff
October 12, 2018

In reply to by Christy

Some review platforms allow and encourage businesses to respond to consumer reviews. The CRFA, however, does not require any site to host someone’s review, or to host replies to reviews.

Miss_X2m1
October 27, 2018
Amazon has deleted thousands of reviews from customers who are "verified purchase", this means the customer is not posting a fake review, they are posting a review for an item they purchased, a genuine review. Amazon ends up making a vague claim based on "violation of TOS or community standards". I believe this is also illegal.
Miss_X2m1
November 17, 2018

In reply to by Miss_X2m1

As a follow up to my own comment.....after reaching out to Jeff Bezos of Amazon several times and putting him on notice that I would be filing a formal complaint against Amazon for deleting all my product reviews and banning me from posting future reviews, I discovered today that all my reviews have been restored and I am once again able to post reviews for my purchased products.
Eric
November 02, 2018
I posted a comment a while back regarding how the CRFA is effected if I was paid $1000 when in fact the damages caused me were $6000. I was paid and required to sign a paper stating I would never post negative reviews again. SO far I have no answer and this is a time sensitive issue for me.
George morariu
December 04, 2018
I'm a business owner with a Yelp account. 2 months ago I had 33 five star Yelp reviews and now I only have 17. The ones that are hidden from my business page or five star reviews and I had for one year or longer.. these yelpers have comments on other businesses so why did they drop out of mine? Is it because I'm not paying for advertising?
Bill Vorpahl
December 18, 2018
I am completely shocked & appalled that I can no longer write a legitimate bad review on a business in this era of political correctness. I shouldn't be forced to log onto a Google, Yelp, Facebook or any other account to share my bad experiences with other consumers. What new stone age are we living in where we so blindly protect everyone to the point it actually hurts consumers from knowing how bad someone was treated by a business??? I agree we also need to protect businesses as well from erroneous claims but to what extent? Suppressing free speech? Back to thew dark ages I guess.................................................
Jack Mauersberger
January 12, 2019
A seller from Amazon have demanded that i delete the negative feedback on my reviews, I have received the delivery beginning of December. I`ve requested the seller to arrange pick up fo the item and refund my payment since the item was not exaclty the same color on the website it was not really white at all. The seller offered me if i considered discount, but I`ve provided them a picture it will not match my furnitures at home since it is not really based in the image on the website. its a heavy buffet cabinet which i cannot carry myself to UPS or US post office for return. The seller wrote me to delete the negative feedback and they will help me out. i wrote the seller back. Lets make a deal you arrange pick up and reimburse my payment i will delete my feedback which i only wrote the truth. I called up Amazon to complain and report the seller, Amazona first declined my claim. i had called up the customer service now for 6th or 7th times still nothing happens. The seller sent me second email to delete my feedback. Its a kind of manipulating the feedback. Isn`t it? I wonder if Amazon is really protecting their customer`s even it`s third party seller.
mellisa
February 21, 2019
I have been seeing companies only keep positive comments and deleting everything negitive. their product didnt work and gave me a really bad rash and when I tried posting it they deleted it. so I went through every comment and realized all of them were happy and promoting. is that legal.... to dismiss and delete a bad review? when it's a true and honest review
Not Disclosed
February 28, 2019
eBay deletes negative feedbacks for "power sellers" as a service to them. It is terrible. I left a series of negative reviews after I had some items expertized and returned as FAKES. I left negative feedback on the items sold as genuine but was certified as FAKES. eBay did nothing to support the customer, saying it was past 60 days so they could do nothing. I left negative feedback on the seller and eBay deleted them within 48 hours. I learned after the fact this is eBay's standard operating procedures for "Power Seller" on their platform. I did make an eBay BBB compliant (only to find 5000+ of them!) and a complaint in the state of the seller. PayPal saved the day for me as they have a 180 day fraud protection. I'm still mad at eBay for a 20 plus year customer to get the only negative feedback ever left delete is just wrong on all levels.
Thomas
April 18, 2019
I'm kind of curious about this one place I went to, they have a company that they "collect" reviews through and when I had an issue with them I noticed that the company they are using as a "reputation management" organization will only publicly post five star reviews, anything less than that just disappears. Is a company that does something like this breaking the law?.
AJS
May 11, 2019
I bought a product that was installed on my home improperly, the company is refunding my whole purchase price, but we are left with damages to our home from the product that exceed the purchase price by thousands of dollars. The company refuses to be blamed for these damages therefore won't pay anything for them. They are forcing us to sign a legal document in order to get our refund of the purchase price, this agreement includes a clause that states that we agree to remove all mine and my husbands postings in the public forum about their company. Is this legal for them to force us to do this in a written contract?
FTC Staff
June 04, 2019

In reply to by AJS

The Consumer Review Fairness Act protects consumers’ ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct in any forum – and that includes social media. Read more about the Consumer Review Fairness Act.

The Act makes it illegal for a company to use a contract provision that:

  1. bars or restricts the ability of a person who is a party to that contract to review a company’s products, services, or conduct;
  2. imposes a penalty or fee against someone who gives a review; or
  3. requires people to give up their intellectual property rights in the content of their reviews.
Monique Afnan
May 17, 2019
FashionNova does this, how can I as a consumer get them to stop?
Lizardmj1
May 18, 2019
Is it illegal for companies to remove reviews if not 4 or 5 star? If you look up L’ange Hair Products, that is what they do. I feel like I was duped after reading all the good feedback. I spent about $200 on products to only find some were really bad. I left a review that it made my hair feel greasy and they never posted. Left another as the packing was broken and couldn’t use product and never posted. This is so misleading!!! What can be done about it?
FTC Staff
May 23, 2019

In reply to by Lizardmj1

In general, review platforms have discretion about whether to post the content people supply.

Lisa
May 28, 2019
A company that I left a poor review for offered me money to remove a review and once I removed the review they refused contact. I have documentation. Other than posting another review, is there anything else that can be done?
Guest
October 10, 2019
Does this include an ex employee making a review on the company they worked for as long as it's an honest review? By the way, the company tried to offer a bribe to take the review down.
FTC Staff
October 15, 2019

In reply to by Guest

The Consumer Review Fairness Act protects consumers’ ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct in any forum – and that includes social media. Read more about the Consumer Review Fairness Act.

The Act makes it illegal for a company to use a contract provision that:

  1. bars or restricts the ability of a person who is a party to that contract to review a company’s products, services, or conduct;
  2. imposes a penalty or fee against someone who gives a review; or
  3. requires people to give up their intellectual property rights in the content of their reviews.
Guest
November 01, 2019
I was made to sign a settlement agreement stating I would remove all negative reviews and not post more in order to get refunded for botched face filler which I was told would be dissolved. Instead I was yelled at when I flew in to get it done. Have I given up my right to free speech by signing this agreement?
Phoenix
December 27, 2019
What can I do? I have been getting harassed by a business owner for giving her a 4 star review. She is telling me to remove it and put up a 5 star review. She solicited the review in the first place. The reason I gave a 4 star was because she didn't come prepared to a meeting and got names info mixed up in her presentation. I thought I was being generous with 4 stars. I also didn't leave any comments. I feel bullied and worried she can do things to hurt my child at school.
Guest
December 30, 2019
I filed a negative review against the builder of our home on their Facebook page. They deleted the comment and blocked me. What can I do in this case?
FTC Staff
February 14, 2020

In reply to by Guest

In general, review platforms have discretion about whether to post the content people supply.

dentalripoff
January 28, 2020
A Dentist mislead me into opening a (lender-credit) account and charged $14500 for a surgery scheduled "months" out. due to health reasons the surgery was not done. I have repeatedly disputed the charge with the lender and requested a refund from the dentist. It has been 6 months and my credit report has been damaged. Is is legal to tell the Dentist that I would like to give them the opportunity to make it right before I take the next step? (i.e bad reviews, legal action, formal complaints, etc.)... or should I just file the complaints and post the reviews and wait for the dentist to respond?
FTC Staff
February 14, 2020

In reply to by dentalripoff

You can also contact credit reporting agencies to dispute the debt on your credit report. Tell the credit reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Your letter should clearly identify the item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. Read more about disputing errors on your credit report. You can use the sample dispute letter to contact the credit reporting agencies.

Guest
February 07, 2020
Can I make signs and post about a dishonest company
Guest
February 18, 2020
I just canceled an online order after they said I could not purchase 3 dresses - same dress in different size - as they don't allow "buying and trying". I then attempted to cancel my order. I read views and some people have had this same company not refund or respond to cancelled order. SO, I wrote an honest review about inability to purchase dress in 2 different sizes to try, and then referenced other review about not responsive to cancels. They contacted me and said they would refund my $ for canceled order AFTER I removed the review. That seems to fall into this ILLLEGAL territory.
GI
February 20, 2020
Is it possible to have a complaint removed, if a person had file for one?
BlueMoon
April 30, 2021

In reply to by GI

I posted a one-star review on Zillow because of the bad service I got from a real estate agent. Before posting the review, I did research online on what I can comment on to avoid any possibility of being sued for defamation. So I detailed my experience to support my opinion. Then the real estate agent sent me threatening messages and asked me to take off the review, otherwise lawsuit. I refused. Then the agent sued me for defamation using her own name, not the broker company. I have hired an attorney to answer the lawsuit and counterclaimed abuse of process. Now we are in the process of mediation. I told the other party I would not take off the review unless you can prove it is false. Then, they requested me to take off my opinion, just leaving facts. Secondly, they want me to sign a non-disparagement agreement. After reading the post here, it seems it is illegal based on Consumer Fair Act Review. Is it right? I don't know what I could do. If I don't sign the settlement, I have to continue the legal process, which may take over one year and lots of attorney fees. What should I do now? It is very time-sensitive as I have to reply to the other party with the decision within a short timeframe. Thank you so much.

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