If you’ve ever considered using a service, buying a product, or even booking a room at a hotel, there’s a good chance that you went online to check out the reviews. There’s no question that when you see a bad review you’re far more likely to move on to another option. But what if you’re a provider who received a bad review that you didn’t deserve? Knowing how important online reviews are, can you take action against the person who slammed you? Is it considered defamation?
Online reviews can make or break a business’s success. They can cost untold monies in lost bookings or purchases. If the review was based on a legitimate complaint then you as a business owner have the opportunity to correct your mistake, contact the reviewer and offer a discount or a do-over. But what if the review is a lie? What if it was submitted by a competitor, or a customer who didn’t actually have a bad experience but was just bent on mischief, or by someone who has never even used your service?
There are some circumstances where you can file a defamation lawsuit, but this can be very challenging to prove, and in some cases you may not even be able to identify the individual who posted the negative review, making legal action nearly impossible.
It’s important to remember that a comment is only legally considered defamatory if it is demonstrably untrue, so no matter how negative and damaging a review may be to your business, if it is based in someone’s actual experience there is little that you can do about it from a legal perspective.
If, on the other hand, you can prove that a negative and libelous review was posted by a competitor, you could conceivably file an unfair trade practice claim. And it is possible to conduct an investigation of an anonymous post to identify the poster’s IP address, but if it came from a public computer then it will be impossible to prove whose work the malicious negative review was.
Often the best thing to do in the face of internet defamation is to take action to have the post removed by contacting the platform where it was posted. If you know who posted it, you may be able to send a cease-and-desist letter asking them to remove it, but court action will be extremely challenging. Either way, our attorneys are standing by to help you, contact us today!