Last month, President Obama signed the Consumer Fairness Act into law. When it goes into effect on March 14, 2017, this law will provide consumers with greater protection when filing a complaint or posting a review against a company. The Act makes it unlawful for any company to offer consumers a form contract with a non-disparagement clause or language.
Definition: A “Standard Form Contract is an agreement that employs standardized, non-negotiated provisions, usually in preprinted forms. These are sometimes referred to as “boilerplate contracts,” "contracts of adhesion," or "take it or leave it" contracts.” - FairContracts.org
According to Rich Woods – CBBB.org, “a company can no longer impose a fee for consumer complaints or reviews, nor can it transfer intellectual property rights for complaints or reviews to the business…. As of December 2017, the Act will become enforceable by the FTC as an unfair or deceptive act or practice, and by state AG’s and consumer protection authorities….”
So the next time you purchase a product or service requiring a form contract, especially after March 2017, be sure to check it for a non-disparagement clause. If you find one, you have a right to ask that it be removed from the contract before you sign it.
For more information on this new law, go to Protecting the Right to Complain: The Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 or H.R.5111 - Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016.