Home For Everyone What the Consumer Review Fairness Act Means for You & Me

What the Consumer Review Fairness Act Means for You & Me

by TerriAnn
Cookies & Clogs | The Consumer Review Fairness Act was recentliy signed into law. This helps protect consumers as they leave honest reviews and remove the threat of gag clauses which allowed some companies to sue when negative reviews were written.

I’ve teamed up with Consumer Reports and am proud to be one of their paid brand ambassadors; my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Consumer Reports.

Cookies & Clogs has changed quite a bit over the years. From the design and style to post topics and content, I’m always looking to grow and improve the site. But, I have always stuck to the core belief to only my express honest opinions. From the moment I first started blogging, I decided that I wanted to tell others what I hoped others would tell me. Yes, I share honest opinions because that’s what I most value myself. But, after learning about the Consumer Review Fairness Act, I realized the weight of that concept.

Consumer Review Fairness Act — The Issue

Most people these days rely on personal feedback from others for buying decisions. We ask friends and family, check online retailers, sort by user-submitted ratings, and search for candid reviews. None of us want to buy junk that’s bound to break or, worse yet, will somehow cause harm to you or a member of your family. This is especially so if many others have already had a bad experience with it. But, some companies were using an underhanded method to keep consumers’ mouths shut.

Some companies would sneakily add “gag clauses” or “non-disparagement clauses” in the fine print. Basically, by buying a product or interacting with the company, you relinquish your right to say anything negative. If you do, you are liable for penalty fees. What craziness is that?! Apparently, it’s craziness that some companies tried to bank on. Notice this example:

In one case, a Utah couple ordered a $20 item from an online retailer, but it never arrived, and they posted a negative review about the site.  Years later, the company retaliated by sending them a $3,500 bill.  When the couple refused to pay, the company sent the bill to a collections agency, and their credit score was impacted.  A judge eventually ruled in the couple’s favor.

Why the Consumer Review Fairness Act is Important

That’s why the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which was just signed into law on December 14th, is so important. This new law will protect consumers’ rights to share honest reviews of companies and products. It also protects those who publish stories of consumer experiences like Consumer Reports does.

No wonder the organization was so proactive in supporting this law and informing consumers about these issues. Warnings were posted on consumerreports.org, articles were published in the November’s issue of the magazine’s Better World column, and some of the work from Consumerist was even cited in testimony during Congressional hearings on the bill. Get the full story here.

Thanks to support like this, the Consumer Review Fairness Act is now in place. So what does that mean for you? It means you are free to share your honest opinions of products, services, and companies without fear of being penalized for it. You can also gain more trust in user reviews, not having to worry that negative feedback wasn’t “hushed” somehow.

It’s also empowering for someone like me. I feel that it’s very rare for items to be 100% awesome and now I can freely share both the pros and cons of whatever I’m reviewing for you. Well, I did that before but now it won’t put my family at risk. What a relief!

As I mentioned before, Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization empowering consumers to make informed choices. Consumer Reports does this through product testing and research work. However, the full cost of this can’t be covered by subscription costs alone. CR relies on support from its readers. Until December 31, 2016, any tax-deductible contribution to the organization, up to $30,000, will be matched by two generous donors. This is a fabulous way to help Consumer Reports continue to do what it does best — help consumers make the best buying decisions. Go here for more information on donating.

How do you feel about the Consumer Review Fairness Act?

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