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FTC Sues Company for Trying to Silence Consumers who Complained

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In a long-overdue development, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against a company for trying to silence consumers with truthful complaints about that company.

Most consumers have had experiences with at least one company that were so poor that they would never use that company’s services again.  Many people consider it important to post truthful reviews and feedback about their experiences.  In fact, that kind of truthful feedback is important to our society, so that the poor companies do not victimize others and so that good companies get rewarded with additional business.  That is the primary purpose of many sites that publish consumer reviews.

However, some companies include what is known as a non-disparagement clause (sometimes known as a “gag clause”) in the fine print of their agreements.  A non-disparagement clause (or gag clause) prohibits a person from sharing their negative experiences with anyone else, even when those reviews are completely truthful.  Those kind of provisions can prevent others from knowing the truth about companies who use deceptive, unfair and illegal tactics.

In this case, a Florida company called Roca Labs sold weight loss supplements through its website.  However, the “Terms and Conditions” included such a non-disparagement clause.  When consumers then posted their negative experiences online or filed a complaint, Roca Labs then sued or threatened to sue its customers over those posts or complaints.

In what appears to be a first, the FTC sued Roca Labs, claiming that such non-disparagement clauses was an unfair practice that violated federal law.  Simply put, it is important for consumers to be able to find out the truth about companies, without the people posting honest reviews having to worry about being sued over them.  This should also send a message to other businesses here in Central Florida and across the country who try to use a similar gag clause.

If you have had a bad experience with a company’s product or service and have posted an honest review about it, you should not have to worry about being intimidated by that company or its lawyers.  As a Central Florida consumer protection lawyer, I can help you protect your rights if you have been sued or threatened with a lawsuit over your truthful review about a company.  Contact us today by clicking here or calling us at 407-333-0001.  More information about the FTC’s lawsuit against Roca Labs can be found here and here.