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Whether your summer plans include replacing your air conditioning, installing new flooring, or riding the range, you will probably read customer reviews to learn what people say about their experiences with a business or product. Shoppers benefit from knowing what others have to say, and the Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) protects people’s ability to share their truthful experiences and opinions.

The FTC enforces the CRFA and recently sued three businesses (and two of their owners) for violating that law. According to the FTC, the companies used form contracts that barred customers from sharing negative comments and that imposed financial penalties against customers who did so. Under proposed agreements with the FTC, the businesses — including an HVAC and electrical contractor, a flooring seller, and a company that takes people on horseback rides — will stop using, and will not enforce, those contract provisions. They will also inform people who signed the contracts that the provisions can't be enforced.

The CRFA protects your ability to share your honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct in any forum, including social media. You can publish your honest review even if you say something negative about a business or the services it performed for you. If you have a signed form contract that restricts you from sharing reviews or penalizes you for doing that, the business may not be able to enforce those restrictions. If a business tries to enforce a restriction or penalty, let the business know about the CRFA, and please report it to the FTC or your state consumer protection agency.

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May 10, 2019
May 08, 2019
Great news. Spread the word to allow more truthful reporting.
May 08, 2019
Thank you! This was very helpful! I hope consumers realize this, because an "honest" review would be nice these days... seems when someone posts a negative experience, they are harrased in some cases and so they begin posting only positive experiences. I like to see both.
May 08, 2019
Fair enough. But is there protection for the business when consumer posts a negative review without just cause?
May 08, 2019
I wish there was also a law for consumer's to have the responsibility of being honest and truthful as well.
May 12, 2019

In reply to by Vali

Wishing that is like wishing we didn't have free speech. Their experience can be interpreted in several ways but slander will as always be slander.
May 10, 2019
I had an experience with a store where I had issues with the ordering process and service. I did not order the product and tried to comment on the experience. The company would not allow it because I had not made the purchase. Is this allowed by the law? thanks!
FTC Staff
May 10, 2019

In reply to by MTsmith

The Consumer Review Fairness Act relates to form contracts between sellers and individual consumers. 

Don F
May 28, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

"The CRFA protects your ability to share your honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct in any forum, including social media." In any forUm A contract or form were not mentioned. .
May 08, 2019
My Doctor's office dismissed me and denied to see me when I was sick because they found out that my wife left a negative comment on google reviews about the staff two years ago. Even though my wife deleted the comment, the office still refused to let me see the doctor that I had to go to urgent care instead.
May 08, 2019
Recently, a company whose services I used sent me a review to fill out. I did so, giving them four stars out of five. I rarely give 5 stars on review. This company had done well, but there were a few issues in the service. I received multiple txt and emails from them asking me to change my review to 5 stars. I had never received pressure like this before after a nice written review. It made me realize that internet reviews are not necessarily without manipulation.
May 08, 2019
I would like to know the identities of the HVAC contractor, the flooring company, and the horseback rides company that would even “attempt” such a thing. I want to avoid such businesses that operate on non American principles.
May 08, 2019
Can you please provide the business address for the companies?
May 08, 2019
I posted negative comments about an HVAC contractor that stole our money and tried to sue me. You might think I'm being a little melodramatic, but no, we paid him for equipment (he said he needed the money up front to get the best deal) and never got what we paid for. I posted some reviews and I sued him to recover the money and he filed a fraud suit against me and told me he would drop his suit if I dropped mine. The consumer protection agencies refused to get involved, saying it was a civil matter. They were useless. I've had three different lawyers look at the complaints and all three said he has no cause of action, two wondered why he isn't in jail. The third said he believes the contractor has pulled this before. A judge that has ordered him to pay back as much as he can afford and dropped his actions, but so far, nothing.
May 08, 2019
May 10, 2019
Sounds reasonable. So is this also a 2-way thing? Does this act/rule also allow a business to post an honest review about their experiences with an identified customer, on any platform including social media? Can I start a review website called, say, Bad Buyers Report, for businesses to post their own public reviews on their individual customers? Thanks.
FTC Staff
May 10, 2019

In reply to by Ralph

The Consumer Review Fairness Act protects an individual's ability to share his or her honest and truthful opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct in any forum, including social media.

May 21, 2019

In reply to by Ralph

On Yelp, most reviews are set up so that the co. can respond, publicly, to reviews one time. Doesn't matter if good or bad review, then the reviewer can respond to the co. I've been on Yelp for many years. I can honestly say that the businesses who respond to my reviews, they straight-up lie. Even with photos and/or videos to the contrary. Then in my response, I point that out. Which makes them not only look worse, but they look very dishonest, and in many cases, they are.
May 08, 2019
Thanks for the information. I often see on TV court shows businesses suing clients for negative comments. The suits are dismissed, but the judge never sites this law.
Kevin Downer
May 08, 2019
What about the people who lie or just post negative comments out of spite or some other deviant motive. These affect businesses who may not have actually done anything wrong.
Dr. Gary
May 09, 2019
This is the other side of the coin. I have had companies offer bribes for a positive online review. Either a discount on my next order, or a gift card (just $5 or so). Either way, there was definitely pressure to post a positive review. I had had a positive experience with the 2 companies I am talking about, but didn't like feeling pressured to give a good review. I wondered about the ethics of this?
May 09, 2019
Amazon won’t let me post any reviews and I read their policy and feel like my rights are being infringed on. I reached out to them many times and they won’t give me reason why or lift the can’t comment or leave reviews on products that I purchase ...
May 09, 2019
A very sensible decision
May 11, 2019

In reply to by Eva

I also agree on the part where one is pressured into writing good reviews for a company. I recently.leased a Nissan Sentra and have since I signed the contracts have had nothing but issues. Now the young man who sold it to me repetitively said please give me good reviews or there will be a problem and he said basically that he has to get a perfect score or else it causes major problems so I did he left the dealership and as previously mentioned I have had nothing but issues with the vehicle with no assistance from Nissan. I would never ever get another Nissan the company does not stand behind their product. I am looking for advice on dealership leasing. Thank you Blessings
May 12, 2019
This information is good to know. Thank You.
May 12, 2019
Thank you for the continued value you provide for consumers. This information helps tremendously.
Clint Denman
May 14, 2019
I was told I won a big prize by a girl using the name gloy dianna, I was told I won 800,000 us dollars from Samsung they even had a Samsung logo but wanted 600 Australian dollars to ship the money but to a roauted bank account in may I still have the name and contact number I called Samsung and was told they would not ask for money they would send one of their employees
J. Bellenger
May 15, 2019
Received a scam phone call this morning from 1-760-974-422 in Joshua Tree, CA and hung up.
Don't use your…
May 17, 2019
This is great news and now maybe these people will get their act together and start treating customers like they should be treated by caring on their businesses in an exceptional way because when I view customers comments I don’t look at the 8 plus I looked at the 3 stars and under because they are the ones telling me the truth
May 21, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

So many of them are fake. In fact, look closer or the Not Recommended reviews, many times are the employees/owner. Any time a business asks where I found them, I just say on Yelp. Sometimes you get a Yelp-discount, but other times I find the co.'s might be on their best behavior, knowing there's a review waiting in the wings.
Unhappy in Chicago
May 21, 2019
I enrolled in do not call for years. I also enrolled in Nomorobo but I keep receiving calls I don’t answer on my land line. Many with spoofed numbers. At least 10 a day. I try to block them, complained with FTC,.... I can’t take it anymore!! They start early morning and go on when we are in bed at night.
November 07, 2019
Is it possible for a dealership to contact google to delete an review about an awful experience?
North Shore
January 15, 2020
This information is good to know. Thank You.