Unhappy with your hotel? Was that restaurant disappointing? Before you spread the word, make sure that your reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor don’t land you in court.
Several businesses have filed defamation lawsuits against writers of negative reviews. A Canadian hotel sued a guest for $95,000 over claims on TripAdvisor that his bed was infested with bedbugs. A New York hotel took to fining guests $500 each for negative reviews posted online.
In response to these fees and lawsuits, the Consumer Review Fairness Act was passed last year. The Act aims to “protect people’s ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct, in any forum, including social media.”
The Act also 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;
- 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.
It’s important to note that the Act does not protect against false or misleading statements. Remember to be honest in your reviews and provide information that you think others will benefit from. Businesses are still free to remove reviews that contain abusive or harassing language, do not relate to the services or goods sold by the business or reviews that contain confidential information.