Companies Strike Back Against Negative Customer Reviews Online

Several companies have sued consumers who post negative reviews online. In December 2012, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed a controversial lower court decision that forced a customer, Jane Perez, to remove a negative review of a contractor on Yelp. The contractor, Christopher Dietz, had sued Ms. Perez for $750,000 and asked for a preliminary injunction to remove the negative review while the litigation was underway. Similarly, in 2013, an Ohio-based company, Med Express, sued a customer for leaving a negative review on eBay.

There have been some recent successes in limiting this kind of behavior. In 2016, Congress passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which prohibits companies from using contract provisions that limit customers’ ability to review their products. In 2017, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) successfully convinced the real estate company Zillow to withdraw a threat of legal action against the creator of the McMansion Hell website, an architecture blog that parodies modern housing design.