How many times have you been deterred by a negative Yelp review? Companies dread the thought of losing potential customers because of a few nasty words they may have seen online. To keep up their reputation, some companies have added “non-disparagement” clauses to their terms of service.
By agreeing to the terms of service, these clauses make it impossible for customers to properly express their opinion. Go ahead and write a negative complaint, however you can be fined and even sued. According to a Marketwatch article, after hosting an event at the Union Street Guest House in New York, a $500 fee is charged for every negative review you (or your guest) may write.
Image Courtesy of Yelp Inc.
Luckily, according to the an article from The Verge, California Governor Jerry Brown has taken action to make sure businesses do not abuse their power. He signed a law that will ban future companies from slipping non-disparagement clauses into their contracts giving “yelpers” across California some relief.
Social Media has changed the way we find businesses and services. Long gone is the charm of getting lost and stumbling upon a new place With review sites like Yelp, and Tripadvisor, customers have a preconceived opinion of a restaurant before even stepping foot out the door. This weekend in Istanbul, my hostel gave me a stack of brochures for various tour companies. Naturally, I went directly for the one with the trip advisor owl on it. Upon further examination though, I realized that the owl’s colors were inverted and that the word “trip” was actually written as “rtip.” What a clever marketing stunt right?
Courtesy of Maya Bakhai
However, there is more to this lie than marketing. In a way, the official Tripadvisor ratings are protecting us. If this tour company was willing to lie about their reputation, could their other services be a scam as well? In the digital age, we are holding businesses accountable for their actions. Social media has given power to the consumer, who’s preferences and experiences can shape the success of the company. As a result we can avoid bad experiences and take more advantage of the places we do visit. It is just as unethical for hotels to ask a Californian to take down a negative review as it is for the customer to lie about their experience. In an ideal world, “non-disparagement” clauses will be eliminated all together.
Featured Image Courtesy of Eric Molinsky