September 24, 2014
California has passed legislation to:
prohibit a contract or proposed contract for the sale or lease of consumer goods or services from including a provision waiving the consumer’s right to make any statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods or services.
No doubt this legislation is a recent reaction to the infamous KlearGear case (described here by The consumerist) and other attempts by businesses to stop customer criticism, such as this hotel, which included a term in its booking contract for weddings allowing it to fine the happy couple in the event that one of the guest posted a negative review.
California’s new statute not only prohibits such contract terms, but also gives consumers powerful tools to enforce that protection. The statute bans threats or attempts to enforce such terms, or which penalizes consumers for making protected statements. Consumers will be entitled to sue violators of the act and recover fixed civil penalties, as well as compensation for any actual harm suffered.