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Regarding a contractor or business or store owned by a non-jew, can I tell others that the service/job performed was bad? How will the answer be different if it’s a Jewish contractor/business/store?


Article: Negative Reviews on a “Rate your Sheitel” Forum

Book reviews. Restaurant reviews. Hotel reviews. Product reviews. Even “Rabbonim” reviews. At what point do any of these one-or two-star ratings veer into the territory of lashon hara (slanderous talk)?

The Halachos prohibiting Lashon Hara allow reporting Lashon Hara L’toeles (with a purpose), i.e. passing on information to safeguard a third party. This exemption requires a number of preconditions, which must be accounted for when reviewing another’s business or product negatively.

It’s the truth: The negative information must be verified for accuracy; no embellishment is permitted. It must also be objectively true, for example: calling a product “expensive” if its price is competitive is a subjective judgment. The same would apply to a book or a meal that did not bring one consumer enjoyment, but may appeal to others. There is no sanction to negatively impact the author’s or restaurateur’s parnassah (livelihood) on account of personal taste.

It provides genuine protection: The reviewer’s sole intention is to protect others from harm, and this is the only means available. It must be preceded by reasonable effort (and perhaps a warning that a negative review is forthcoming) to allow the supplier to rectify the wrongdoing. It must also present protection from real damage, physical, emotional, financial or even spiritual—such as a book that misrepresents Torah or a rav who takes a position contrary to halachah.

The benefits outweigh the loss: The damage averted by the negative review has to prevail over the potential injury to the supplier. “The fries were too salty!” may lead to a recipe adjustment; it may also scare off potential patrons who assume the food is sub-par, causing great—and unwarranted—loss to the restaurant owner.



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