Business Halacha: Posting a Fictitious “Rate this Seller”

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amazonQuestion: Can I post a fictitious “rate this seller” review on Amazon.com, applauding my own company or discrediting my competitor’s?

Answer: Posting a fictitious comment applauding your own company is deceitful, sheker, even if the information itself is correct. It might also involve geneivas da’as, misleading people, since the readers expect these comments to be unbiased reports of other customers and decide to make purchases based on them. (C.M. 228:6; Tzitz Eliezer XV:12) Instead, you should encourage customers who had positive experiences to post reviews. This is ethical even if other customers did not share the same positive experience.

Posting a fictitious comment discrediting your competitor is motzi shem ra, a severe form of lashon hara. In truth, any person has to be careful when posting a negative review. The reason to allow doing so is the need (to’eles) to warn other potential customers about dealing with that company. The Chofetz Chaim (Rechilus 9:2) requires that the information be true, without exaggeration, and with proper intent to warn the consumer – not out of hatred or intent to disparage the seller’s reputation. Therefore, a competitor should avoid posting even a true, negative review, since it is almost impossible for him to have proper intent.

Business Halacha Institute: www.businesshalacha.com

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

5 COMMENTS

  1. Why do people even have this question, do you mean to tell me that if not for Matzav.com posting this ‘very important’ query, you would not have known that it is prohibitited to tell lies and be dishonest in pen or in type.

  2. “The Chofetz Chaim (Rechilus 9:2) requires that the information be true, without exaggeration, and with proper intent to warn the consumer – not out of hatred or intent to disparage the seller’s reputation. Therefore, a competitor should avoid posting even a true, negative review, since it is almost impossible for him to have proper intent.”

    The article seems contradictory, if not outright condescending. It IS permitted to post negative posts if its for benefit of others, how does the author know the person’s intent, intent does not as much matter as much as the words and description used!!

  3. The above article is not clear that even a customer is halachicly prohibited from posting a negative review of a company or product.

    While it is true, as the article indicates, that for to’eles it may be permissible to warn other potential customers about dealing with a company that misled a customer (and as long as it is true without exaggeration) that is ONLY the case when

    a) you were ASKED for that information and only by a POTENTIAL CUSTOMER

    b) it is information about something the company did halachicly wrong (i.e. defective product that they refused to replace or refund) — and NOT your personal “feelings” or negative “impressions” of the product.

    In any event, it is ALWAYS wrong to post a negative review of a frum company on Amazon (or elsewhere) since you are providing UNSOLICITED information — and likely simply your negative impression rather than a halachic fault of the company.

    I believe this article needs to reflect this is order not to c”v mislead anyone.

  4. It seems that some of the comments posted are edited for content….

    Sheker and Geneivas Da’as apply to tax applications as well..

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