Friday, September 12, 2014

California (Thankfully) Disparages Nondisparagement Clauses

A new California law would outlaw over the top
non-disparagement clauses like this one.  
Kudos to California, which just passed a law making it illegal for companies to have so called disparagement clauses

The clauses companies try to use so they can   shut you up or fine you for lots of money if you have the gall to complain about their shabby products or services.

This was becoming a real problem. Still is, in fact.

Outfits like KlearGear and Accessory Outlet got HUGE bad publicity this year over these disparagement clauses, because they fined people and tried to ruin their credit ratings over relatively mild on-line criticisms.

You'd think the bad publicity and the public outcry and derision against companies like these would make them change their ways. After all, who in their right mind would want to do business with them if they are practically extortionists?

But customer service seemed not to be in their business plans, so lawmakers, at least in California, had to step in.

According to TechDirt, the new California law makes it illegal to prevent a "a consumer's right to make any statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods and services."

It's also now illegal in California to try to collect fines or penalties from a customer who criticizes a company.

The first violaton would cost a compnay $2,500 and "flagrant" violations could run up to $10,000.

TechDirt points out one problem with the otherwise good California law: It's sometimes awfully hard to track down the scumbags behind the scummy outfits that would go after someone financially who complains about shoddy products or services.

Says TechDirt:

".....there's more than a few companies combining crappy service with hefty fines that don't seem to actually exist outside of a Mailboxes Etc. address. Laws are tough to enforce when you can't find anyone to hold accountable. The worst part is that by the time most consumers discover they're dealing with a company that will charge them for negative reviews, these companies already have their credit card information and can start adding these charges to their balances."

The bottom line: It's up to us as consumers, and the media, to find out which companies have these ridiculous non-disparagement clauses and go after them.

Plus, it would be nice if there were a federal law similar to California's which would cover consumers nationwide.

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