Consumers in California will now be protected against penalties for sharing their opinions via online reviews under a new bill (AB 2365) signed on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown.
This measure by Assemblyman John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) is aimed at cracking down on retailers who attempt to manage their online reputation by requiring their customers not to make negative comments publicly about them.
Such requirements, otherwise known as non-disparagement clauses, are often buried in the fine writing that some business owners ask their customers to agree to before a purchase is made.
Pérez states that this bill “is an important consumer protection for Californians.” And that, “No consumer should ever face penalties for voicing their opinions on the services or products they have purchased, and California law is now clear that no company has the ability to silence consumers.”
This is great news for everyone who is active in the online review community. As a consumer in California, you can now review freely without the threat of negative repercussions as a result.
However as a business owner, this means that you need to be even more on top of providing the highest level of customer service possible. Monitor your reputation online and moreover, pay close attention to those who do leave you negative feedback. You might find that that could be the ticket to improving your business in the long run.
Note: This bill does not protect against libel. According to Dictionary.com, libel is:
An excerpt from AB 2365:
“This bill would prohibit a contract or proposed contract for the sale or lease of consumer goods or services from including a provision waiving the consumer’s right to make any statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods or services. The bill would make it unlawful to threaten or to seek to enforce, a provision made unlawful under the bill, or to otherwise penalize a consumer for making any statement protected under the bill.”
View full text of the bill here.