You may want to stop threatening your buyers

I think most of us can agree that threatening your customers to stop them from giving you a poor review is a bad idea.

But in case you’re not so sure, a new bill in the U.S. House, the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016, should give you pause. The bill, introduced by Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass., and Rep. Leonard Nance, R-N.J., last week would invalidate any contract clause that prohibits negative reviews or punishes buyers who use them.

It would also authorize the Federal Trade Commission to take action against businesses that insert these provisions into their contracts.  And — this is very important — it also would ensure companies still are able to take action against individuals who post false and defamatory reviews.

A similar bill, the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015, passed the Senate last year by unanimous consent, but never made it out of committee in the House. The language of the bills is almost identical, so it would seem a good bet if this one gets passed in the House, it will also pass the Senate.

Again, let me reiterate — having one of these in your contracts in the first place is a really bad idea. But if you do, you may want to get to work on actually improving your customer service rather than hiding your problems.

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