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!
John Gear is a Salem attorney in solo practice