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Fighting the good fight: Supporting legislation on customer reviews

The Consumer Review Freedom Act bill cracks down on so-called gag clauses that businesses can place in their terms of service that allow them to take legal action against customers who post negative Internet reviews.

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If I’m a business owner, obviously I want to get glowing reviews. Positive feedback spreads good word-of-mouth which is good for the bottom line. In a perfect world everyone would be happy with whatever is my latest product or service. But the world is not perfect so there is bound to be someone who just doesn’t grasp what I’m promoting.

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The flip side of this coin is that if I’m a consumer and I just don’t like you’re selling I should be able to voice my opinion in public and online. I mean, the Constitution protects me, right? Freedom of Speech and all that?

I’ll teach you…

Well not exactly and I’ve written about this very thing: So-called gag clauses that businesses can place in their terms-of-service that allow them to take legal action against customers who post negative Internet reviews.

Fortunately smarter heads have prevailed with the proposal of the Consumer Review Freedom Act (CRFA) which most recently was passed by the Senate in Mid December 2015 and now goes before the House.

I can’t begin to tell you how important this bill is. The bill cracks down on so-called gag clauses that businesses can place in their terms of service that allow them to take legal action against customers who post negative Internet reviews.

Banning the gag clauses

More specifically, as pointed out in an online article on marketingprofs.com, the CRFA will provide:

  • A nationwide ban on the use of “anti-review,” “gag,” or “non-disparagement” clauses
  • Empowerment of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and states to take action against businesses that attempt to keep consumers from posting negative reviews

Important for all businesses

For business owners this proposed legislation will guarantee a number of things that many of us may take for granted:

  • Freedom of speech in online reviews
  • Access to honest information from customers
  • The chance to learn from constructive criticism
  • The chance to turn negative reviews into positive experiences
  • An opportunity to work together against fabricated reviews

Living and dying by the review

It doesn’t really matter if you sell hotdogs or you sell real estate because you should stand by the validity of what you sell. Real estate in particular is filled with practitioners that live and die by ratings and reviews of their services, and therefore, in my humble opinion, this legislation needs to be supported by all industries.

And guess what? If you get negative reviews (as opposed to fake fabricated reviews) then learn from it and use the opportunity as a perfect chance to put everything you’ve ever (hopefully) learned about customer service into practice.

#CustomerReviewFreedomAct

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

Professionalism

Bill Gates’ big regret of a simple command haunts him, what haunts you?

(EDITORIAL) If BIll Gates is still living with a big regret, it’s time to ponder your own, your own humanity, and consider moving past it in a healthy way.

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It has come to light that Microsoft founder Bill Gates regrets some of the original design decisions of the PC. Namely, the CTRL+ALT+DEL command that allows you to log in to the computer, due to its lack of simplicity when trying to access a key part of a computer’s operating system.

I know Mr. Gates probably has other regrets when looking at the span of his more than thirty years involvement with being associated with one of the most profitable companies in the world. I am assuming that you also have some regrets you have also in regard to your own business and/or career.

We all do.

According to psychologists, regret occurs when an something perceived as an error is made that has some personal accountability tied to it. If you’ve ever been a part of a business team, supervising employees, or been the boss, you’ve had a wealth of personal accountability. And, since you’re human, you’ve definitely made some mistakes.

One of my former bosses told me after a long day, in which I made some mistakes: You did the best you could have with the information you had. More than likely, if you’re agonizing about that mistaken car reservation or wrong decimal point, you made a normal human error. Even if it isn’t a small day to day thing, but perhaps a big issue with some big consequences, you can move on from that. It will be okay.

A great way to move on from a failure or mistake in business is to use the situation as a lesson for the future. Chances are, if you’re a team leader who messed up a relationship with an agent, you will have more agents in the future to avoid that error with.

Learning from your mistakes, and using your errors as fuel to increase your motivation for the next project, is a great way to deal with regrets healthily. If you don’t process your regrets, you can deal with a wealth of mental and physical health problems like chronic stress, depression, and damage to the systems that regulate your hormones.

You will have mistakes, but those mistakes have gotten you to this point in your life. It’s impossible to guess how your life would change if you were able to go back and fix that one thing that feels like a turning point in your business life. Living in spite of regrets is one of the hardest challenges in life to face, but just like Gates, you will accept the past and move on.

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Professionalism

Recognize and use free time at work like the gift it is

(PRODUCTIVITY) Free time during your workday can lead to furthering your mind and productivity.

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Clocked in but clocked out

We’ve all had those slow days at work where we’re looking for ways to kill the time until the clock strikes five.

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While it can be tempting to use this time to text or mess around on the Internet, there are much better ways to use that free time that will make your future so much easier.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

First off, tidy up your workspace. Papers and items have a way of accumulating and may be distracting you even if you don’t realize it. By organizing your stuff and throwing away what you don’t need, you’re able to breathe and focus within your workspace.

It also does wonders for your work brain to clear up your email inbox.

Once that’s all done, plan out the rest of your work week. Make a list of the major goals you’d like to accomplish and then a sub-list of how you’ll knock those goals out. Update your calendar and make sure everything is on track.

Social media, networking, and research

It’s also beneficial to use this downtime to further yourself and your organization. Three ways you can do this is through: social media, networking, and research.

If you have access, take some time to look through your company’s social media and see what can be done to enhance it. Either throw up some posts yourself or pitch ideas to the social media manager.

Networking can be done in this small amount of time by sending out “catch up” emails to old colleagues, “welcome emails” to new clients or introduction emails to LinkedIn contacts.

Send them a “how’s it going?,” tell them what’s new with you, and see what they have going on. You never know where networking can lead so it’s always good to stay in touch.

With research, see what the latest trends are in your field and study up on them. This may give you new ways to look at projects and tasks at hand. And, it’s always beneficial to have continued learning.

Get Smart(er)

While on the subject of continued learning, take this time to mess around with something you may not feel completely knowledgeable of. Maybe dig around RPR data, perhaps practice using different computer programs it is never a bad a idea to nourish your brain.

Having free time during the workday is something of a gift. If you can help it, try not to waste it.

#FreeTimeNotWasteTime

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Real Estate Brokerage

The housing shortage is real and so are these solutions

(BROKERAGE) The housing shortage is real but former San Jose Mayor, Chuck Reed, has a few solutions to it.

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Real life shortage

If I learned anything from my high school economics class it’s that when you have a demand higher than your supply, that is a shortage.

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Shortage is exactly where the housing market is right now and exactly where it needs to stay.

Quick run down

Because of the housing shortage, home prices are rising in ways that people can’t afford.

In California specifically, the housing shortage has become a housing crisis. And on top of that crisis, the state seems to be dragging its feet for a solution to it. One former San Jose Mayor, Chuck Reed, has a few ideas on how to solve both the crisis in California and the shortage sweeping the nation.

Response not reaction

The first response to the housing shortage Mr. Reed suggests should be taking steps to deconstruct the massive amounts of hoops that local governments put out for developers and builders to get plans approved.

Those hoops include, but are not limited to, occupancy limits, profit limits, and eviction rules.

We can deconstruct these hoops through legal action at the local level all the way up the chain to the Supreme Court.

Another response to the housing shortage Mr. Reed proposed is to change the states’ fiscal restrictions to favor housing.

Granted, he is referring to California’s fiscal restrictions but California isn’t the only state to impose restrictions like that.

In terms of the other states, modification of property tax allocations would allow for housing permits to generate enough money for cities to pay an increase service demand.

Reed also would like to see other reviews, like environmental review, streamlined so that they can’t be used to block developments for arbitrary reasons such as neighbors not agreeing with the color scheme.

In the end, Reed’s biggest response is for people to start electing legislators who understand the needs and growing pains of the housing market so that you already have the people in place to make changes.

#HousingShortage

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