JetSmarter Threatens To Fine Journalist $2,000 For Bad Review

JetSmarter, hailed as the Uber for private jets, seems to have engaged in some questionable practices in an attempt to tout its business.

Specifically, the company appears to have gone to extreme lengths to get positive press. It emerged this weekend that JetSmarter offered a Verge journalist a round-trip demonstration flight, but only if the reporter agreed in advance to write a positive review. What's more, JetSmarter threatened to impose a $2,000 fine unless it received a good write-up within five days of the trip.

The start-up was serious enough about this threat that it reportedly demanded the reporter's credit card number in advance, in order to assess a fee if the review turned out less stellar than expected.



The Vergedeclined the offer, as would any self-respecting news organization. Instead of reviewing the service, the publication wrote about JetSmarter's ill-fated attempt to "extort journalists for positive coverage."

But the fact that the startup -- reportedly valued at $1.5 billion -- even attempted to extract a good review through this kind of tactic raises questions that should trouble everyone from its investors to its users to the Federal Trade Commission.

JetSmarter isn't just trying to control how it's covered by journalists with The Verge. The company's terms of service include a gag order that prohibits members from "making any negative or disparaging comments to anyone," Techdirt reported today.

Congress's recent move to outlaw those types of clauses, as well as the FTC's reminder to businesses to remove non-disparagement clauses from their terms of use, appears to have escaped JetSmarter.

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