A bad review could get you sued

A one-star review might cost you six figures.

Customers should not be sued by companies or businesses for giving accurate and honest reviews detailing horrible service.

In Virginia, Jane Perez was sued by the contracting company she hired to work on her house in 2012, according to an article from the Washington Post. Unhappy with the work that resulted in damage to her home, being charged for work the contractor did not perform and missing jewelry, Perez decided to write a review online.

Her review, which was posted on the social media review site Yelp, scorched the company. While Yelp is protected from lawsuits by the Communication Decency Act of 1996, Perez was not and the contractor sued her for $750,000, according to ABC News.

Although bad reviews are usually harsh and bitter, customers have a right to express their honest opinions. It is one of our Constitutional rights, our First Amendment right actually, that everyone is entitled to freedom of speech. Companies should not be suing customers for their honest reviews made online or in person.

In November a couple was sued for $3,500 for a sour review. Three years ago Jen Palmer and her husband bought products online through Kleargear.com. After 30 days had elapsed and the Palmer’s had not received those items, PayPal cancelled the transaction, according to Business Insider.

Palmer decided to write a review about the horrible service, or lack thereof, she experienced with Kleargear.com, not thinking it would have much of an impact.

Three years later she and her husband are being sued for $3,500 for their review because Kleargear.com has a Non-Disparagement clause hidden amongst its “Terms of Sale and Use” page, according to Techdirt.com.

This clause states that any customer who purchases from this business prohibits the consumer from taking any action that might negatively impact the seller. It also states that any violations to the clause will result in a 72-hour opportunity to take down the review. If not taken down those violators will be charged $3,500 immediately, according to the same article from Techdirt.com.

Cases like these are just plain ridiculous. These reviews constitute the customer’s opinion and experience. If a customer feels that he or she was not treated right or given proper service from a business or company, then they should have all the ability to express their thoughts.

Sure, companies and businesses can get angry over the reviews. But in the end, suing customers is not going to solve their problem, especially if bad customer service was the issue to begin with.

After all, we know the first rule in sales: the customer is always right.

-Marissa Mararac is a junior communication major from Tacoma. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this Column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.