Wedding Company Contract Tries To Ban Bride & Groom From “Encouraging” Negative Feedback

The non-disparagement clause in this wedding vendor's contract forbids customers from making disparaging remarks or encouraging others to make them.

The non-disparagement clause in this wedding vendor’s contract forbids customers from making disparaging remarks or encouraging others to make them.

Wedding and party rental companies often rely on positive word of mouth to find new customers, and negative feedback can do real damage to a small business. But one Florida wedding vendor is trying to preempt customers from saying bad things by including a clause in its contract that prohibits the bride and groom not just from making disparaging remarks, but from also encouraging others to make disparaging remarks.

Consumerist reader J. and his wife recently hired an Orlando-based company to supply seating, tables, and other items for their wedding. It wasn’t until after they signed the contract that they noticed the last sentence.

It reads:

“By signing this contract, you are agreeing that you will not make or encourage any disparaging comments about OWPR ever in any form verbal or written.”

We’ve seen non-disparagement clauses before — like the terms of use that customers could be fined $3,500 for negative comments, or the cellphone accessory company that levied $250 penalties against customers who even threatened to complain.

There was also the apartment complex that claimed copyright on all tenants’ comments and images and dangled the threat of $10,000 for violating that alleged copyright.

What sets the wedding vendor’s contract apart from these other clauses is that there is no mention of a penalty, financial or otherwise. It merely says “you will not make or encourage any disparaging comments.”

Lawyers we talked to said that the company would have a difficult time trying to enforce this clause with such a vague consequence.

“To me, it just looks like a company trying to frighten the customer into not saying anything bad on social media,” says one attorney who has experience fighting non-disparagement cases. “I can’t imagine this would stand up in any court, but the company is probably hoping to keep the customer from even making a negative comment.”

Interestingly, J. tells Consumerist that the wedding went off without a hitch.

“I don’t really have anything bad to say about that company,” admits J., “which makes it even stranger to have something like that in the contract.”

In 2014, the state of California passed a law outlawing non-disparagement clauses. There was also an unsuccessful attempt to pass a similar law on the federal level.

We’ve reached out to the wedding vendor to ask what it hopes to gain by including this particular clause in the contract, but have yet to hear back. If we get a response, we will update this story.

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