sites that allow consumers to describe or rate their
experiences with contractors and other service providers
are a fact of modern life.
there are those who try to prevent consumers from
putting reviews on sites like Angie’s List. You can
imagine that, as founder, I bristle when I hear about
members and other consumers being asked to sign a
contract that includes what’s legally known as a
"non-disparagement clause." I would call it a
gag order, pure and simple.
believe service providers should never ask customers to
surrender the right to free speech. This became an issue
for me a few years ago, when my team learned that a few
doctors were asking patients to waive the right to post
online reviews about their experiences with the
then, we’ve learned of the occasional company
including non-disparagement clauses in contracts for
services as wide-ranging as home remodeling and repair,
professional photography and moving.
reviews are a legitimate concern for companies. But a
reputable contractor shouldn’t fear hearing the truth
about what customers’ experience. On the other hand, I
don’t think customers should consider a company’s
periodic negative review to be a deal-breaker. Nobody’s
perfect, and what matters most, in my opinion, is how a
company responds to customer feedback.
also important that consumers play fair when posting
reviews or comments. Here are my cardinal rules:
you’re describing a negative experience, provide
constructive criticism when possible. Don’t negatively
label someone. Ii’s one thing to say that someone
showed up late and did sloppy work. It’s quite another
to call him a crook.
in mind that review sites are not equal. Many allow
anonymous reviews; ours does not. In addition, we allow
service providers to respond to reviews.
take seriously the right of consumers to freely
communicate about their service experiences. If my team
learns that a company is requesting speech restrictions,
we contact them. If the behavior continues, we won’t
allow the company to remain available to searches of our
reviews can play a part in improving the overall
experience that consumers have with their local service
providers. Positive reviews tell a business what’s
working. Negative ones give them a chance to make things