Negative Review Policy
Berkeley Parents Network >
Help & Frequently Asked Questions >
Negative Review Policy
BPN does NOT ACCEPT negative reviews about:
- In-home childcare and domestic services
- People & services that are not Businesses or Business Owners
- License violations, illegal acts, and the like
Guidelines & Explanations
In posting to any of the BPN newsletters, BPN subscribers agree to
follow the Negative Review Policy and affirm that their review does meet the
- Unsolicited negative reviews:
Negative reviews may only be posted in
response to a recent query from another subscriber that specifically requested the
type of service you are reviewing. For more information, see the policy
about unsolicited reviews.
- Multiple negative reviews:
BPN does not accept more than one review from the same subscriber about the same negative experience.
- First-hand experience:
Negative reviews must be based on
the first-hand experience of the BPN subscriber who is posting the review, or their
This means that for schools, classes, camps, etc.,
your child must have actually attended,
not just observed or visited.
We do not accept negative reviews based on the experiences of
neighbors, friends, and relatives. We also do not accept negative reviews from
people who have worked at the business being reviewed.
- Facts, not opinions:
must describe the events that caused you to have a
bad experience, as objectively as possible,
without editorial comments and opinions. "Just the facts, ma'am." No
opinions are allowed, such as "I was not happy with this person" or "I would not go back to this place!" No
derogatory adjectives are allowed, such as "was rude" or "work was
shoddy". BPN has this policy so that the reader has enough information
to form her own opinion, rather than taking the word of a stranger.
- Accuracy: We require and assume that BPN subscribers who post negative reviews
are posting a true and accurate account of their own first-hand experience.
This is the case 99% of the time, but we do follow up with the subscriber
who posted the review if there are any questions later
about authenticity or accuracy.
BPN does not accept negative reviews for childcare and domestic services that take place in the home.
This includes nannies, babysitters, home-based daycares, housekeepers, housesitters, and pet sitters.
Why we have this policy:
These are usually very small one-person businesses whose livelihoods depend on
the preferences, personalities, and beliefs of their clients. We don't
think it's fair to publish negative reviews that may say more about the client's
likes and dislikes than about the business. In addition, these businesses
typically have far fewer clients than other small businesses. A small family
daycare may have children from only a few families over the course of several years.
One review from the only dissatisifed parent at the daycare, who happens to be
a BPN subscriber,
might be the only review BPN receives for the business, unfairly giving the
impression that the daycare is undesirable.
This policy was changed in July 2012 to add home-based daycares to the list
above, and we are updating reviews on the website to reflect this change.
Please send us an email if you notice a daycare review on the BPN site with an older negative review.
Please note: BPN accepts reviews of *licensed* home-based daycares only. If you
believe your daycare has violated the terms of its license, please see
About Childcare Licensing for
information about filing a complaint with the State of California's
Community Care Licensing office. BPN does not accept complaints about
license violations -- see this policy to find out why.
Instead, we encourage parents to contact Community Care Licensing to make a complaint or to view past complaints about a daycare, because this agency is equipped and
authorized to investigate daycare problems and take any needed actions.
What's a business? (BPN's definition)
- they have a business name, or
What's a business owner? (BPN's definition)
- they have a business license, or
- they rent/own office space, or
- they have a business phone, email address or website, or
- they hire employees, or
- they hand out business cards, or
- they market themselves as a business outside BPN, and
- they are not an individual who provides childcare or domestic services in the home
- they work within a BPN-defined "business", AND
Examples of businesses and business owners (negative reviews are accepted)
- they either own the business or don't report to anyone higher in the business
schools, contractors, medical practices, doctors,
therapists, adoption facilitators, electricians,
plumbers, law firms, attorneys,
cleaning services, summer camps, music classes,
tutoring centers, support groups, accountants
Examples of people who are NOT considered businesses or business owners (no negative reviews allowed)
teachers, babysitters, nannies, home-based daycares, housekeepers,
sales clerks, staff at medical practices, receptionists
If a subscriber is submitting a negative review of a person, and it's unclear whether
the person is a business as BPN defines it,
it is up to the subscriber to convince the moderator that the
person meets BPN's definition of a business before we will accept the
negative review for the newsletter.
BPN does not accept negative reviews that describe license violations,
abuse or neglect, illegal acts, malpractice, or any other activities that
are regulated by law. BPN has no way to investigate complaints like this,
or to take any action that will remedy the situation. If you think someone has broken the
law, or violated the terms of their license, or engaged in any other activity
that could result in legal action, please contact the
proper authority such as the local police, Child Protective
Services, the provider's licensing agency, or the like. If you need help
identifying the proper agency to report this to, you may post to one of the
newsletters or ask the moderator.
BPN also does not accept posts that describe past or pending legal actions and
violations. We do not have the resources to confirm or deny information like
this, and we do not want to publicize unchecked information that is potentially very damaging
to a local business.
All reviews appear first in one of the BPN newsletters, which are emailed
to BPN subscribers.
We eventually archive many of these newsletter reviews,
positive and negative, to our website.
We can't guarantee how fast reviews will be archived, or even
if they will be archived,
since the website is run by volunteer parents in their spare time.
We do not archive
any reviews to the website for people whom we consider are not businesses.
Note: The current negative review policy was developed in May 2005, and
has been revised several times since then.
The BPN website has been online since 1995. As of May 2005, there are more
than 2,500 pages of reviews, some of which may contain negative reviews
posted under previous policies. We update older reviews as time
permits, but please be aware that some older reviews may conflict with
the current policy. We also occasionally overlook a review that
does not meet BPN policy, despite our best efforts. Please
send us an email to tell us about a review on our website
that doesn't appear to meet the current policy.
If your business is reviewed on our website or in one of
our newsletters, you can respond to the review or ask us to
remove reviews as outlined below.
All reviews appeared originally in one of the weekly email newsletters
that are mailed to subscribers. (See How does it work?
for more info about this.) Reviews from the newsletters
are later archived to the website, as time permits.
Please Note! If there is a negative review of your business on BPN
that contains factual errors or misinformation, or doesn't meet our
policy in some other way, please
Click Here to notify us and we will investigate. We usually reply
within a day or two.
Negative review on the website
- Post a response. You can write a response to the review
and we'll add it to the website directly following
the negative review.
Responding to a negative review can be a good opportunity not only to set the record straight, but also to let local parents know more about your business.
Click here to send us an email.
- Older, non-compliant review. The current negative review policy
was developed in May 2005 and has been revised several times since then.
There may be older reviews on the website that
predate the current policy. You can send
us an email and ask us to update your review so that it conforms
to the current policy.
- Professional standards exception. If you are prohibited from
responding to a negative review because of privacy laws such as HIPAA
or some other professional regulation, please send us an email.
- New owner exception. If you are the new owner of a business
(or the new director/principal at a school) and the negative reviews apply to the
previous owner, we can remove
the old postings and start afresh. In this case, please
send us an email.
- Remove all reviews.
You can decline to be reviewed in the BPN. We'll remove
all postings about your business that are currently on the website, good and bad, and add a note
that you've asked not to be reviewed on the BPN. We will not accept
further reviews of your business. Please send us an email to request this.
Negative review in one of the newsletters
In this case, the review appeared in a BPN newsletter which was emailed to
subscribers, but it has not yet been archived to the website.
Please be aware that it is not technically possible to recall an
email that has already been sent, so we can't "remove" a posting that has
appeared in one of the newsletters.
You are welcome to submit a response, and we'll
post it in an upcoming newsletter. If you are not a subscriber,
click here to send us an email with your response. Responding to a
negative review can be a good opportunity not only to set the record straight,
but also to let local parents know more about your business
of caution: we sometimes receive email from business owners several
weeks or months after
a negative review has appeared in a newsletter. BPN
subscribers see hundreds of reviews every week, so there is a
good chance that most subscribers won't remember
the posting you are responding to. Or, they may not have ever read the original
post (most subscribers do not read every newsletter we mail out.) It's
good to keep this in mind when you are writing your response -- it might
not be desirable to re-visit
a complaint that has already been forgotten,
or that wasn't ever read in the first place.
It probably isn't in the best interests of
your business. A better solution may be to encourage satisfied
customers to post positive reviews.
Schools, Preschools & Camps Newsletter
- Home-based Daycares: negative reviews are not accepted
- Babysitters and Nannies: negative reviews are not accepted
- Nanny Agencies: negative reviews are accepted if someone has asked a recent question and you have first-hand experience
- Childcare Centers & Preschools not in someone's home: negative reviews
are accepted if someone has asked a recent question and you have first-hand experience
- Please let the moderator know if you've had a bad experience with a person
who has promoted her/himself in the newsletter, even if negative reviews are not accepted
- Negative reviews are accepted for schools, preschools, childcare centers,
camps, and other programs in response to a query from another
- Negative reviews are not accepted for preschools that are based in someone's home.
- Negative reviews are not accepted in the section "Parent Review of a School, Camp, or Tutor",
where unsolicited reviews can be posted.
- To post a negative review, your child must have attended the school or camp
(not just visited).
- BPN does not accept negative reviews of a school or camp from former or current staff.
- BPN does not accept critical accounts of schools and camps
based on someone else's experience. This includes questions about a school
that contain the phrase "I have heard ..." followed by negative information.
- Teachers: negative reviews are not accepted, even if the teacher is not identified by name.
- Principals, Directors, Heads of School: negative reviews are accepted only if BPN
considers the person to be a "business owner" and the other requirements of negative reviews are met.
Otherwise, negative reviews are not accepted of individuals at a school. It is OK to comment on communication between school and parents, or
about organizational style, as
long as you give specific examples. However, you can't single out any
people in your review or make negative comments about their personalities.
- Classes, Tutors, After-School Programs: negative reviews are accepted if they meet BPN's definition of "business" and the other requirements of negative reviews are met.
- We do not accept negative reviews from people who were not actually a
client of the business being reviewed.
- Employees: negative reviews are not accepted unless they meet BPN's definition of "business owner"
- Classes, lessons, tutors: negative reviews are accepted if it meets BPN's definition of "business"
BPN's main goal is to be useful to parents. We think it is useful
for parents to read about others' bad experiences as well as the good,
so they can make better decisions. However, negative reviews must be
an accurate account of first-hand experience and must be written as
objectively as possible so that the
parents who read them can draw their own conclusions rather than
taking someone else's word for it. Negative
reviews that only give an opinion without the facts are not useful,
and neither are rants, venting, and emotional responses.
We want to be fair to people and
businesses in our community. We don't want BPN to be a
vehicle for spreading rumors and gossip, or as a way for disgruntled
former employees to settle a score. The BPN policy is intended to
prevent this, and volunteers make every effort to make sure that
negative reviews meet this policy.
We also don't want to
single out employees who may have little say in how their larger organization
is run (like teachers), and we want to protect the privacy of individuals who
work in the home (like housekeepers and babysitters.)
Our policy on negative reviews is meant to balance usefulness with fairness.
The current policy was last revised in July 2012.
this page was last updated: Jan 9, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network