Now that we live in a world where it seems everything can be rated — from your restaurant experience to your root canal — privacy issues are popping up in unexpected places. Like in health care providers’ responses to negative reviews from patients on Yelp, for example.
A couple months back, we told you of the Texas couple that was being sued for a few thousand dollars by a petsitter over a negative Yelp review that allegedly violated a “non-disparagement” clause in the petsitter’s contract. That suit was quickly dropped, but a new complaint filed by the petsitting business has ramped up the allegations and the dollar amount, now seeking between $200,000 to $1 million in damages. [More]
Last December, it looked like federal lawmakers were getting serious about so-called “non-disparagement” or “gag” clauses in consumer contracts that forbid customers from saying anything negative about a purchase or transaction. The U.S. Senate quickly passed a bipartisan bill that would outlaw the practice, but the legislation has idled in the House since. However, a new, virtually identical bill may finally be evidence of movement on this issue. [More]
The technological powers that be understand that people often don’t want to click around in more apps or programs than they have to. In a move meant for caffeine lovers on the job, one of Microsoft’s newest add-ins for its Office programs lets Starbucks customers do things like schedule meetings at the local coffee shop and buy gift cards for the store as well from within Outlook. [More]
So you hired a pet sitter to take care of your companions while you were out of town, but you weren’t happy with the service you received. You’re free to go online and publicly share your thoughts about that experience, as long as what you write is truthful. But you still might be sued by that pet sitter if your contract included a clause forbidding you from posting anything negative about the company. [More]
Every year, after the major flower-giving holidays, readers send us photos of what they ordered and what they actually received. It’s a dismaying scene, and what we really want is to never publish another of these features again. That’s why we’re sharing what we’ve learned about the flower business from readers and from florists in the 10 years that Consumerist has been around.
Since Amazon began allowing customers to post reviews on product pages, various waves of bogus reviewers have attempted to game the system by posting fictitious or dishonest write-ups. While Amazon has recently taken legal action against people paid to write fake reviews for products, and the site has a ban on most forms of “paid” reviews, there’s a new crop of compensated reviewers who are receiving free or discounted products in exchange for then writing “honest” reviews. But some of these users are writing dozens of reviews a day, sometimes for products they couldn’t possibly have tried. [More]
Netflix recently premiered a 10-part true-crime documentary Making A Murderer, about controversial murder investigation in Wisconsin. Some viewers of the show have been so moved by what they’ve watched that they’re forming virtual picket lines on Yelp and other review sites. [More]
What’s a technology company trying to break into the restaurant review game to do when not enough people are willing to submit restaurant reviews? If you’re Google, you give out a bunch of free storage.
Things Are Looking Up For Federal Law Banning “Gag Clauses” That Prevent Customers From Writing Honest Reviews
While most companies understand that honest negative feedback is, at worst, an inevitability of doing business, and maybe even a chance to improve, some companies try to use non-disparagement, or “gag,” clauses that use threats of legal action or financial penalties to prevent customers from writing or saying anything negative about that business — even if what’s being said is 100% true. We’ve seen these in everything from cheapo cellphone accessories, to wedding contractors, to hotels, to dentists, to weight-loss products, to apartment complexes. California recently enacted a law banning this sort of behavior, and some courts have deemed these clauses unenforceable, but there is still no nationwide consensus on their legality. Previous attempts to create a federal ban on gag clauses have been dead on arrival at Capitol Hill, but the latest effort appears to have some life to it. [More]
We’ve said before that star ratings for restaurants are often arbitrary and may not be an accurate representation of the review’s content or of other diners’ standards. You might think that critics who get paid to give such ratings would defend the practice, but at least one of them has come out swinging against the stars, bells, and other dingbats he and his fellow reviewers are often compelled to use. [More]
It’s one thing to go online and rant about a business that you’ve dealt with, exercising your right to free speech and warning other consumers away from dealing with that company. The problem, one woman in New York City learned, comes when you accuse the enterprise of actual crimes, using words like “scam” and “fraud,” and the company notices. [More]