Online reviews no wonder have a significant value and no matter what customers purchase, they read reviews more than a product’s details. This is why there’s nothing wrong in saying that the business revenues nowadays directly depend on the positive online presence rather than having a brand name from decades.
What if you have a bad experience and you want to give a product a bad review, can a company sue you for a bad review?
Research unveils that 91% of people read reviews regularly and 84% of them typically trust them before they make an online or even offline purchase. If your business has faced reputational damage or false accusation just because of a bad review, you are eligible to acquire legal help against the person.
Can a company sue you for a bad review?
Online reviews laws are covered greatly in the First Amendment. The First Amendment in the constitution of the United States protects the rights of speech. Moreover, 34 states in the US sanctioned Anti-SLAPP laws (strategic lawsuits against public participation). According to this law, a business cannot censor or silence its critics through the threat or intimidation of a lawsuit.
This means, if a customer is unhappy with the product, he is backed by the Anti-SLAPP law. The law gives them the civil right to mark their experience whether in person, online or over a call.
However, there are certain exceptions. If a reviewer posts reviews that contain false accusations or are factually incorrect, you may have reasons for suing the reviewer for accusing you of an untrue allegation.
Illustrations of the content that is covered in the First Amendment include:
- That a business charges much more than the actual price of the product
- If the customer is unhappy with the standard of services received
- If the behavior of the customer service was unwelcoming.
On the flip side, if the negative review contains obvious factual inaccuracies which hurt your business can be the grounds for legal actions. Some examples that can make grounds for suing someone with the character defamation lawsuit contains:
- If the company is providing its services without having a legal license.
- If a worker steals something while it is being sent to a customer for delivery or providing the service, such as a painter or plumber.
- If the company charged for the services that were not delivered and refusing to refund
In case you are planning to sue someone for a bad review, make sure to review the comment. Either it comes under the defamation lawsuit or the First Amendment that often protects the reviewer.
Is it possible to sue the review sites rather than the reviewer?
Certain grounds are there for which you can sue a negative reviewer which includes inaccurate factual information that damages your business image.
But is there anything that you can do for the review site where the negative review is posted? Is it possible to bypass the customer’s review and talk to the review website directly?
Unfortunately, you cannot. The U.S. Communications Decency Act says that any website or online communication platform cannot be questioned about any content written or performed by a third party. This includes the popular review websites over the internet like Healthgrades, Google Reviews, Yelp, and Angie’s List.
Therefore, there’s no chance of suing the review site due to a negative review that someone has posted there. So, what other legal options do you have to sue the reviewer or take positive action that does not harm your business in the long run.
What other legal options can you take?
If for any reason you get a negative review, what should you do? What options do you have other than filing a character defamation lawsuit?
To be honest, filing a lawsuit isn’t that easy as it may sound. It requires a lot of energy, time, and of course, money to request a website to remove a bad review through a lawsuit.
On the other hand, if the comment or the bad review is factually inaccurate and you can prove the inaccuracy attached to it, the time and money you spend will be worth it.
If it is difficult for you, there are some other legal and practical ways which you can opt to deal with it.
Strategies you can opt for dealing with bad reviews include
Respond to the negative comment graciously – The best solution to the situation is to respond thoughtfully to the comment. Mention how you or your company appreciate suggestions and ensure the reviewer that it won’t happen again. Suppose they have written the review after having unhelpful customer support, you can offer them a discount on their future purchases.
Requesting the review website to remove the negative comment – When someone has posted a negative review on a website, you can request the review website to remove it stating the facts that the information is incorrect. You cannot force the website to remove the negative comment as they have no liability to remove it.
Gather more positive and genuine reviews – Take the negative review positively and try to use it in making improvements. Gather positive reviews, as plenty of positive reviews, will fade away the reaction of a bad review. Strive to provide the services and products that satisfy your customers and request them to review if they find your services satisfying.
There are certain things that you need to keep in mind while dealing with a negative comment. First, do not react immediately. When you read a negative comment instead of giving your best shot, it may trigger your anger, and replying instantly may depict the same through your words.
Since it is hard to read the critical comments about your business either true or untrue, take it as your growth opportunity. Take a deep breath and mold the review to your benefit and develop a way forward.
Suppose if a review contains allegations against your business, you probably want to strike back and retaliate. It’s important not to do that especially if you are planning to file a defamation lawsuit. It will haunt you and possibly go against your case.
Whether you want to file a defamation lawsuit or find ways to legally handle the situation which cost your business image, consulting a lawyer should be your priority. It’s essential because they can come up with the legal information that will provide you a deeper insight to move forward legally.
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