Yesterday I wrote a post about a Provident Solutions consumer contract for debt relief services.
I heard from an expert attorney that the section of the contract that penalized the consumer for unfavorable reporting or reviews violated the Consumer Review Fairness Act.
I am not an attorney so I can’t give anyone a legal opinion but this may be an important issue for all debt relief companies to deal with if they have similar punitive clauses in their client agreements.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does provide information on the Consumer Review and Fairness Act (CRFA) that certainly appears to contradict the position of Provident Solutions.
The CFRA states it “protects people’s ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct, in any forum, including social media.” The Provident Solutions contract makes a position against inaccurate of false complaints, even to a regulator like the FTC, but the CRFA protects perceptions and opinions.
Provident Solutions wants to penalize consumers $1,000 per “complaint that turns out to be inaccurate or false with the media, a regulatory, enforcement or consumer group.”
Inaccurate is a much different word than opinion. And how slight an inaccuracy might be could land the smallest error into the penalty box with Provident Solutions.
The CRFA specifically seems to deal with this Provident Solutions contract clause. “The Consumer Review Fairness Act was passed in response to reports that some businesses try to prevent people from giving honest reviews about products or services they received. Some companies put contract provisions in place, including in their online terms and conditions, that allowed them to sue or penalize consumers for posting negative reviews.,” says the FTC. – Source
So if your company or a company you are thinking of hiring has a clause in the client agreement that penalizes you for reporting your opinion about the company, you should become familiar with the Consumer Review Fairness Act.