FTC: Businesses can’t sue because of a negative review

Reviews are essential for consumers looking to buy a product from a business. Although bad for a company, a negative review could help a customer’s decision to buy or walk away.

But what if a business threatens to sue consumers for posting a negative review after they have bought their product?

According to a recent Federal Trade Commission lawsuit, it’s against the law.

A complaint made by the FTC says Roca Labs Inc threatened legal action against customers who violated their non-disparagement clauses. The company was in the weight loss industry and marketed their products to people considering gastric bypass surgery. The federal agency said the business promised the same weight loss results as the medical procedure.

The clauses stated customers would have to pay full price for products they bought if they made any negative remarks against the company, costing consumers hundreds of dollars. If you decided to post a negative review anyway, Roca Labs Inc sued you. FTC said customers who saw legal action had their sensitive health information exposed in public court documents.

Here’s what a sample of the non-disparagement clause said:

“You agree that regardless of your personal experience with RL, you will not disparage RL and/or any of its employees, products, or services. This means that you will not speak, publish, or cause to be published, print, review, blog, or otherwise write negatively about RL, or its products or employees in any way.”

According to the FTC, Roca Labs conduct is in violation of the FTC Act.

Additionally, the federal agency claims the company’s promise that their products would limit one’s ability to eat were false. Roca Labs did not have any scientific evidence to prove this.

The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court in Florida.