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.
The Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) protects people’s ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct, in any forum, including social media.
Contracts that prohibit honest reviews, or threaten legal action over them, harm people who rely on reviews when making their purchase decisions. But another group is also harmed when others try to squelch honest negative reviews: businesses that work hard to earn positive reviews.
The Consumer Review Fairness Act was passed in response to reports that some businesses try to prevent people from giving honest reviews about products or services they received. Some companies put contract provisions in place, including in their online terms and conditions, that allowed them to sue or penalize consumers for posting negative reviews.
What kind of reviews does the law protect?
The law protects a broad variety of honest consumer assessments, including online reviews, social media posts, uploaded photos, videos, etc. And it doesn’t just cover product reviews. It also applies to consumer evaluations of a company’s customer service.
What does the Consumer Review Fairness Act prohibit?
In summary, the Act makes it illegal for a company to use a contract provision that:
-- bars or restricts the ability of a person who is a party to that contract to review a company’s products, services, or conduct;
What specific conduct is prohibited by the statute?
- -- imposes a penalty or fee against someone who gives a review; or
- -- requires people to give up their intellectual property rights in the content of their reviews.
The Consumer Review Fairness Act makes it illegal for companies to include standardized provisions that threaten or penalize people for posting honest reviews. For example, in an online transaction, it would be illegal for a company to include a provision in its terms and conditions that prohibits or punishes negative reviews by customers. (The law doesn’t apply to employment contracts or agreements with independent contractors, however.)
If a business threatens you over a negative review you gave or claims you agreed not to post negative review in the first place
Call the Oregon Attorney General's Consumer Protection Complaint Hotline at 877-877-9392 and report the business!
The terrific organization "Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety" (aka CARS) has put an awful lot of work into figuring out how to make the purchase of a used car as successful for the buyer as possible -- here is their best wisdom, in one easy list.
Having published a number of these over the years, let me repeat one point:
If you think you can't afford an independent pre-purchase inspection for any car you are seriously interested in, you can't afford the car, period.
Letting the dealer suggest or pick the mechanic to inspect the car you are thinking about buying for you or, even worse, relying on the dealer's own opinion or that of the dealer's mechanic is like letting your blackjack opponent decide whether you should take additional cards: you will end up busted every time.
Car dealers are NOT in the business of helping you buy the best car at the lowest price.
Their only business is making as much money as they can, and used cars are just the means to that end.
In other words, used car dealers are in the business of selling you the least car they can unload on you at the highest price possible, with as much unnecessary garbage packed into the contract as you will swallow.
Making as much money from each customer as possible is the only religion of the used car dealer, and if some car salesman or finance manager has you thinking otherwise -- well, pardner, remember the old saying: if you don't know who the sucker at the poker table is, it's you.
The only people who get the better cars for the best prices are the people who follow the 11* steps below.
How to Buy a Used Car
Clients called me today about a "You Have Won" letter they got -- or thought they got today.
They struggle with age-related issues, but the check in the envelope was so well-done that it could likely fool 99 out of 100 people into thinking it was genuine.
Thankfully, the letter that came with the check gave off such a strong stench of scam that the clients were able to resist taking the bait long enough to call me instead of calling the phone number in the letter (or, worse, depositing the check and spending from it).
This is a really high-quality fraudulent check scam, a tribute to the wonders of digital printing. Glad the scammers' cover letter was so terrible.
But it’s a warning — with a check this good, eventually they will come up with an equally good cover letter.
Remember always, always, always:
Money NEVER calls you on the phone or
Arrives in your Mailbox Out of the Blue
EDITORIAL: Building a Better World, Together
In our November 2016 column, we highlighted the Consumer Review Fairness Act, then a bill in Congress that aimed at protecting consumers' voices within the marketplace. Since then, both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill came together to send the bill to President Obama, who signed it into law before he left office.
The Act puts an end to one of the more disgraceful practices we've seen in online commerce.
The lowdown: Companies that sold products and/or services were trying to stop consumers from posting negative online reviews about what they'd bought by burying "gag orders" or "non-disparagement clauses" deep within the fine print of their purchase contracts or terms of service. Those clauses said that all consumers who bought the product or service "agreed" never to say anything negative about the experience and "agreed" to be subject to penalties if they did complain. And companies tried to enforce the clauses, too. A couple in Utah, for example, was hit with a $3,500 penalty for posting a negative review. When they refused to pay, the debt was reported to the credit bureaus. And consumers in Texas were sued for a bad review of a pet-sitting service, which asked for a million dollars in damages.
A superb review by James Kwak from his blog The Baseline Scenario
which carries the subtitle "What happened to the global economy and what we can do about it." Kwak is co-author of the important book about the most-recent crash, 13 Bankers:
13 Bankers describes the rise of concentrated financial power and the threat it poses to our economic well-being. Over the past three decades, a handful of banks became spectacularly large and profitable and used their power and prestige to reshape the political landscape. By the late 1990s, the conventional wisdom in Washington was that what was good for Wall Street was good for America. This ideology of finance produced the excessive risk-taking of the past decade, creating an enormous bubble and ultimately leading to a devastating financial crisis and recession.
More remarkable, the responses of both the Bush and Obama administrations to the crisis–bailing out the megabanks on generous terms, without securing any meaningful reform–demonstrate the lasting political power of Wall Street. The largest banks have become more powerful and more emphatically “too big to fail,” with no incentive to change their behavior in the future. This only sets the stage for another financial crisis, another government bailout, and another increase in our national debt.
The alternative is to confront the power of Wall Street head on, which means breaking up the big banks and imposing hard limits on bank size so they can’t reassemble themselves. The good news is that America has fought this battle before in different forms, from Thomas Jefferson’s (unsuccessful) campaign against the First Bank of the United States to the trust-busting of Teddy Roosevelt and the banking regulations of the 1930s enacted under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 13 Bankers explains why we face this latest showdown with the financial sector, and what is at stake for America.
From his post on "In Praise of Litigation:"
If you think that your rights have been violated, you can sue to enforce them. This is particularly important if your rights have been violated by a state or by the federal government, because in that case it’s unlikely that a government agency is going to take your side. The right to sue is arguably the most fundamental right that exists, because it is the right to have rights in the first place. For example, the Sixth Amendment (as interpreted in Gideon v. Wainwright) says that you have the right to an attorney if you are charged with a felony. But many states and localities refuse to pay for lawyers for the poor; see Dylan Walsh in The Atlantic, or the story of Jack Bailey on This American Life, for example. So you have to sue. A series of lawsuits by the Southern Center for Human Rights led to the creation of the Georgia public defender system, and the Southern Center continues to challenge judicial circuits that fail to provide sufficient representation for poor defendants.
The very first proposal of the new Congress was to shut down the only independent ethics body -- that idea was stopped for now because of public outrage.
There's an even worse idea building up steam, one that should be killed dead forever; that idea is that we should neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) so that big banks and businesses don't have to worry about any consequences for mistreating Americans in the marketplace . . . you know, the way it was in the runup to the big crash that launched the Great Recession, when America realized that toxic financial products and predatory contractual arrangements could hurt you far worse than a defective toaster.
Regardless of party, there's not many Americans who want to see more wrongful foreclosures, more exploding mortgage loans, more hidden elder abuse and neglect hidden behind arbitration clauses, more scam banking charges on phony accounts that the consumer didn't even really open. But we will get all of those and more if Americans don't realize just how much they already have benefitted from the CFPB.
Remember, the whole reason the CFPB is hated is because it works for YOU, and for YOUR BENEFIT, instead of the benefit of the businesses that want to cheat you. They have poured money into Congressional campaigns to elect folks who will, if they are not stopped, repay their backers by killing CFPB and returning the US to the "Golden Rule" -- that the companies who use enough Gold to buy enough Congressional seats get to Rule, and to hell with the rest of us.
Our only chance is to make sure that every Senator and House member knows that you CARE about having a real watchdog on your side and that you are not about to let America be dragged backwards on consumer financial protection.
Take the time to let your representatives and your social media network friends and your newspaper reading friends know why you support a STRONG, INDEPENDENT CFPB that isn't always looking over its shoulder to keep from getting clubbed by a Congress full of bought and sold politicians repaying their contributors.
What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?
Did you know the US Government garnishes (takes money from) the Social Security payments of elders and disabled folks who owe student loans, and that they are not required to get a court judgment first?
There's going to be a ton of proposals for tax cuts and giveaways to the wealthy in the coming year.
How about a break for the middle class? Like, NEW RULES:
1) No garnishing from Social Security income for anyone who makes less than the median income
2) Restore borrowers ability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: DECEMBER 20, 2016 Contacts: Persis Yu (firstname.lastname@example.org); 617.542.8010
ABLE Savings Plan lets Oregonians with disabilities accumulate assets without endangering benefits eligibility
For too long, people with disabilities could not save for the future out of fear of losing needed government benefits. The disability community fought long and hard to change this, and together we’ve come up with a solution.
An Oregon ABLE Savings Plan is a way to save for eligible expenses, invest for the future and keep the benefits you rely on every day.
Who can open an account?
Whether the account is for you or you’re an Authorized Legal Representative opening an account for someone else, make sure these statements are true.
Adding insult to injury, criminal Wells Fargo uses forced arbitration to defeat justice and prevent accountability
Outstanding New York Times exposé:
Read the Awful Reality that hides beneath the blizzard of utter BS that Big Banks and other businesses pump out about the "advantages" of forcing you out of your Constitutional right to have your day in court
John Gear is a Salem attorney in solo practice