Consumer Review Fairness Act Gives Consumers The Right To Share Honest Reviews

I’ve teamed up with Consumer Reports and am proud to be one of their paid brand ambassadors; my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Consumer Reports.

As many positive and glowing reviews from satisfied customers there are online, there are equally many, more reviews that don’t particularly paint goods and services in the best light…and that’s putting it mildly.

Companies have worked really hard to make sure customers have a positive experience they’re willing to share. Apparently, there are some companies that are also willing to work equally as hard to make sure those not-so-positive reviews never see the light of day. If those reviews do appear online, there have been instances of companies lashing out at consumers over negative reviews.

Companies have even gone as far as to hide clauses deep into the fine print of consumer contracts that leaves the door open to take legal action against consumers who post negative reviews.

A company’s ability to go after negative reviews was protected under the law…that was until President Obama signed the bipartisan Consumer Review Fairness Act into law on December 14th.

Essentially, the Consumer Review Fairness Act protects the right of consumers to share honest reviews of the companies they do business with, and the products and services they purchase. In other words, as long as reviews are honest and truthful, and consumers are sharing their own experiences, they are protected from companies willing to “take it there” and coerce consumers with legal jargon for the sole purpose of protecting their brand.

Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization that advocates for consumers and made sure to use its various channels to spread the word about the importance of this law. The Consumerist recently published a story on these “gag orders” that companies hide in their consumer agreements and use and use to lean on consumers who posted negative reviews.

More importantly, the article outlines the teeth of the newly minted Consumer Review Fairness Act including the ability it gives to the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general to go after companies that continue to try to quiet or punish customers with these sorts of clauses.

Additionally, the Consumer Review Fairness Act also protects independent organizations like Consumer Reports that amplify consumer voices and gives the organization the ability to publish stories that highlight consumers’ experiences.

If you didn’t know, Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit, and unbiased organization that strives to arm consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions on products and services they purchase and use. To remain impartial, CR does not accept advertising and as a result, relies on consumer support, in the form of subscriptions and donations, to do its work.

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To be honest, I can understand a company’s need to make sure that consumers are not dragging an entire brand through the mud just because of one negative experience. With the exploding popularity of blogs and social media, average consumers have the potential to reach millions. So a mere negative review, whether it be honest or not, left by the right person, could snowball into to a company negatively making it to front page of all the media outlets.

That still doesn’t mean companies should have the power to railroad an individual based on sharing their unique experience with the goods and services provided by said company. Additionally, if an honest and truthful, yet not so positive review is left by a consumer, and a company decides to take legal action, that consumer should not only be protected under the law, but also have an avenue to respond in kind. I think the Consumer Review Fairness Act does just that.

So now we can go back to writing (and reading) informed product reviews without worrying about blowback from companies looking to keep a positive brand image, no matter the cost.

I’ve teamed up with Consumer Reports and am proud to be one of their paid brand ambassadors; my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Consumer Reports.