Wow---Bad reviewers beware: I thought this was a joke when I first heard about it.

One of my favorite politicians is a US Senator from another state. She tipped me off to this a while back and I thought she was kidding. But then I checked it out, it certainly is a fact, I can't find evidence where the cruise industry has taken this up though. But reviews posted on TripAdviser have resulted in lawsuits and they own C.C. Apparently other members of Congress have began to be concerned as well since pertinent legislation was recently introduced.

"Did you know that by purchasing goods or services from certain companies, you might have agreed to fine print like this? "Leaving a negative online review of our restaurant will lead to a fine of $250.00 per day it is online."

http://www.blogherald.com/2011/07/11/how-a-giving-a-bad-review-can-bring-you-legal-trouble/

http://pagesix.com/2014/08/04/hotel-charges-500-for-every-bad-review-posted-online/

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/filthy-dirty-rotten-stinking-hotel-fines-couple-leaving-bad-review

 "the Consumer Review Freedom Act was proposed in Congress in September and is still in committee."

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13 Answers

Don't understand your question, for instance, who is the "she" you are referring to? You aren't by chance referring to the Senator I mentioned in my OP are you? If so, I don't know what she would have to do with legislation in the US House of Representatives. After all, I did say she is a "Senator" not a "Representative".  Also you ask: "Does this Act cover interference by moderators in both Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic? A lawsuit against the Community Manager of Cruise Critic would be a result !!" Huh??  Maybe the following article out of Forbes magazine and a summary of the house legislation might help you to answer your own question(s).

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericgoldman/2015/11/02/how-congress-can-protect-online-consumer-reviews/

"Introduced in House (09/16/2014)

Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2014 - Declares a provision of a form contract to be void from the inception if it: (1) prohibits or restricts a person who is a party to the contract from engaging in written, verbal, or pictorial reviews, or other similar performance assessments or analyses of, the products, services, or conduct of a business that is a party to the contract; (2) imposes penalties or fees against such a person for engaging in such communications; or (3) assigns or provides an exclusive license, or requires such a person to assign or provide an exclusive license, to any of the person's intellectual property rights in such communications. (Thus, bars certain contract provisions that prohibit consumers from commenting publicly about businesses.)

Sets forth exceptions under which a provision shall not be considered void under this Act if the provision prohibits disclosure of certain: (1) trade secrets or commercial or financial information, (2) personnel and medical files, or (3) law enforcement records.

Provides for this Act to be inapplicable to contracts establishing an employer-employee or independent contractor relationship.

Prohibits businesses from offering or entering into form contracts containing a provision that is considered void under this Act. Treats violations by businesses as unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act. Sets forth authority for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to enforce such violations."

 

This is no joke.  How sad that this has to even be discussed.

 

 

I just posted about this in a separate thread.

It is personal responsibility to read a contract's fine print. So many times I don't.... my bad.

I do not feel it is right for any company to include a 'no bad review' clause. Perhaps people will have to think twice... consider when looking at a company or product trying to decide whether or not to go with one over another. If there are no negative comments in sight, you might want to ask for a copy of their contract to see if such language exists.  It's an extra step but if you value your freedom of speech, you may wish to do business elsewhere.

I just posted about this in a separate thread. I'm not sure why there are two concurrent discussions because it's a very important topic for discussion.

It is one's personal responsibility to read a contract's fine print before signing. So many times I don't.... my bad.

I do not feel it is right for any company to include a 'no bad review' clause. Perhaps people will have to think twice... consider when looking at a company or product trying to decide whether or not to go with one over another. If there are no negative comments in sight, you might want to ask for a copy of their contract to see if such language exists.  It's an extra step but if you value your freedom of speech, you may wish to do business elsewhere.

 

Ah-Hah----Now I understand. Here I was wracking my brain trying to figure out who the "she" was in your post, would never have guessed you were referring to LauraS. Little topic switch there.

I do agree, I have had my differences with "she" myself, however that was years ago, not much to complain about as of late.

Anyway, to answer your question now. No, I can't see where the proposed Legislation even comes close to asserting authority or regulations over a private internet website to the extend of admonishing a program manager. Man, a proposal like that before Congress would be a classic "Dead on Arrival", it would be similar to committing Hari Kari for the sponsors. Wouldn't even be partisan politics either.

Actually, it is just the opposite, this legislation is aimed preventing the restriction of "Free Speech" through contractual supertfuge. It doesn't outlaw such action, it simply declares provisions contained within said contracts to be null and void.

Once again:  "Declares a provision of a form contract to be void from the inception if it: (1) prohibits or restricts a person who is a party to the contract from engaging in written, verbal, or pictorial reviews, or other similar performance assessments or analyses of, the products, services, or conduct of a business that is a party to the contract; (2) imposes penalties or fees against such a person for engaging in such communications; or (3) assigns or provides an exclusive license, or requires such a person to assign or provide an exclusive license, to any of the person's intellectual property rights in such communications. (Thus, bars certain contract provisions that prohibit consumers from commenting publicly about businesses.)"  

 

Agreed w/you, Glommarone. Sad indeed.

This isn't all one sided either as business has legitimate concerns regarding bogus reviews, both negative and positive ones. I personally believe some of the cruise reviews I read are fabricated and embellished by biased reviewers. Read on: 

"The holiday online shopping season has begun, and that means reading lots of online product reviews. Some of these reviews are helpful, others are not. And many are fakes — raves or pans from people who have never actually used the product. Where do fake reviews come from?"

"But the Haggler rummaged around Fiverr and quickly found dozens of people offering to post positive reviews to Facebook, different Google sites, the Apple App Store, iTunes and elsewhere. None said anything about trumped-up negative reviews, but fabricated raves are nearly as bad — or perhaps just as misleading, though perhaps not quite as malicious."

"Starting in early November, and over the course of a week, the Facebook business page for the company where I work, Long’s Jewelers, was hit with 200 one-star reviews. Many of the reviews arrived in a matter of minutes, and all were left without comment. They were bogus reviews that were composed by a freelance spammer, who we believe was paid by one of our competitors. Our average customer rating on our Facebook page fell from 4.8 stars to 2.3 stars."

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/23/tripadvisor-fined-610000-in-italy-for-failing-to-prevent-fake-reviews/    

 

"But as review sites have become more popular, customer feedback that was once viewed only by a hotel’s staff is increasingly being posted online for all to see, enabling guests to share their praise or air their gripes publicly."

"the growing influence of such sites is hard for hoteliers to ignore. Three out of 10 American travelers who do travel research online read reviews written by other travelers, according to Forrester Research. Of the people who book hotels online, 30 percent have changed their hotel plans because of comments written by other travelers."

"Because of the importance consumers attach to guest reviews, some hotels have gone to great lengths to boost their ratings. Some encourage guests to write flattering reviews; some even submit phony write-ups or hire outside companies that specialize in online reputation management to monitor and respond to comments. Review sites, in turn, work to weed out bogus reviews."

"posting one may be a surefire way for a customer to get a hotel’s attention. “I can tell you that you’re going to get a response,” said Mr. Moser of Affinia. When a complaint is out there on the Web, he said, “there’s no one to sweep it under the rug.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/08/travel/08prac.html

 

Funny thing happened to me with Trip Advisor, I posted a negative review about a certain hotel in Ft. Lauderdale that I was appalled by their price gouging in Dec - Jan time frame.  The same hotel room for which I paid $89 for a night was priced at $249 in Jan.  

 

Well after reading my negative reviews the manager of said hotel calls me up and tells me to take the review down.  I could not believe the audacity of the person to tell me what I was going to do.

 

Being not from the US, I am not subject to those fines, or so I think anyways, but quite frankly, that site, as many review sites, are their for people to post their opinions and experiences about the venue they were at.  Freedom of speech?  What a joke!

 

That takes a pair to actually call someone and demand a review be taken down.  I may have gone one step further and posted a follow up comment explaining what had transpired.  I would definitely inform the chain's corporate office about what transpired though not sure they would have much to say. More often than not these hotels are not directly owned by large chain names, they are franchises.

I've heard of this. Apparently these companies have a lot to hide.

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