What to Consider Before You Post a Review to a Consumer Rating Website

(Credit: Getty Images) When Travis Hartinger found his dream home in Chicago, only one thing was missing. “We needed to update the kitchen,” said Hartinger, who works in apartment sales and lives with his wife. So he saved up for the $45,000 fix, took out a loan and called in a contractor. Hartinger told ABC News he liked almost all of the work that was done — except the time frame. “I was really happy with the finished product,” he said. “I just thought they took too long to complete it.” Related: Woman Sued After Giving Bad Online Reviews Related:…

Source: abcnews.go.com

Typical article about how posting a review can get you into legal trouble, but the interesting fact is the contract language. I am seeing more and more contracts that provide a consequence if the customer posts a negative review.

In some instances, I’ve seen intake forms at doctors’ offices that purportedly prohibit negative reviews. I don’t see how that would ever be enforceable. But as was the case here, some contracts take something away if a negative review is posted. Here, the contractor offered a ten year warranty on the construction, but the contract provided the warranty would be forfeited if a negative review is posted. I don’t see any reason that parties would not be free to enter into such an agreement.

Before you cry outrage that a contract would seek to silence someone’s right to criticize, you may not be aware that “extortion by defamation” is very prevalent in this country. 

“Oh, I see from your invoice that I still owe another $5,000 for the job. If you don’t agree to waive that, I’m going to post bad reviews about you on every site I can find.”

Looking at it another way, it levels the playing field a little. Here the consumer posted a review that could have a significant financial impact on the contractor. If the consumer feels strongly enough about the job that they feel the world needs to know, then he can stand by that conviction and post to his heart’s content, knowing the the price of freedom is the ten-year warranty.

Read more about Internet Defamation and remedies here.

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Aaron Morris
Morris & Stone, LLP

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View Aaron Morris, Trial Attorney and Partner at Morris & Stone, with emphasis on Free Speech and Defamation Law.

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