BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Federal Trade Commission is now going after companies that put gag orders in contracts that threaten or penalize you from posting honest online reviews.
The Consumer Review Fairness Act gives you the right to post honest reviews about companies you do business with.
“You as the consumer have a responsibility to be truthful and honest in your review, but at the same time companies are very limited as to what they can make you do or make you say or anything like that. You really have a lot of power as a consumer.”
The law also bans companies from using contracts that prevent customers from sharing negative comments. The Federal Trade Commission enforces the law and recently sued a handful of companies including an HVAC and electrical company and flooring company. They must stop using the contract provisions.
Marketing and Social media expert Maree Jones says businesses shouldn’t shy away from online reviews “Reply to them. Show people you are listening. That’s a much better business practice than preventing negative reviews because its just not realistic.”
Jones who recently published articles on online reviews says companies can use reviews as teaching moments for their business.
"Even if it’s something negative you can reply with something like, thank you for your feedback, we’re listening. We appreciate it. We will make this right or just simply acknowledging that someone is heard or making someone feel like someone is listening can really go a long way in strengthening that customer relationship.”
If a company tries to get you to sign one of these contracts, let the business know about the law and then report it to the FTC. Also, be careful what you post in an online review, don’t unload on a business, just stick to the facts. Jones says it’s also good to air on the side of caution and not post something that you wouldn’t want millions of people to see.