Companies are using certain clauses in contracts to prevent consumers from writing negative online reviews.
From wedding vendors to plumbing services, you need to watch for certain wording when it comes to signing a contract.
Attorney David Fineman with Dellutri Law Group said the clause ‘non-disparagement’ has become more popular with products and services.
“Non disparagement clauses are basically meant to say even if we did a bad job, you can’t tell anyone about it,” Fineman said. “You actually don’t see them more than you think, but they are there. Most of the terms and conditions that you don’t read through when you click on a sale, an online purchase, have a disparagement clause in there.”
If you buy a product online or are working with a service, watch for phrases like ‘non-disparagement,’ ‘confidentiality’ and ‘non-review.’ Fineman said if those clauses are in a contract, the company has the write to prevent you from writing a bad review.
Fineman said it is more common a company will insert a liquidated damages clause, which basically states if you write a bad review the company has the write to fine you.
If you are caught writing a bad review, Fineman said contact a laywer.
“There can be arguments made that you didn’t knowingly waive it [your right to write a review] because it’s such a long contract and it was stuck there where you couldn’t see it,” he said. “Anytime you’re faced with a situation where someone’s claiming you breached that agreement, they may have breached first if they didn’t provide you the service you thought you were supposed to get. And they breached the contract first, then you may have an out on that non-disparagement clause.”
Consumer experts also said watch for companies who only have glowing reviews, they could be restricting what is posted. Instead, look at companies where there is a negative review written and see how they respond.