Sued For An Online Review

Online websites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, Epinions, Foursquare, Google+ and even Facebook encourage visitors to leave reviews. Some are fairly nice reviews…some not so much.

These reviews can lift a company’s reputation or tarnish them. But there are inherent problems with these review sites and sometimes leaving a review can get you sued. I’ll explain in a minute, but first let me share with you how they are supposed to work.

You buy a product (or hire a service) and depending on the outcome you then go to one of the many sites and leave a review. It could be positive or negative depending on how you perceived the value of what was exchanged. But what happens when a person does leave a scathing review? Well, supposedly the company can challenge the review and try to have it removed.

Does it work?

Sometimes, yes, most times, no!

And sometimes, reviews are left by non-customers.

It’s a flawed system.

But here’s the kicker! Many businesses are now starting to sue the reviewer if a negative review is left about the experience they’ve commented on. Businesses who at one time welcomed these fantastic reputation building websites are now suing the very people these websites were designed to benefit.

How is that fair?

It’s not!

It’s more of a scare tactic. And it’s starting to have an effect on these review sites. Visitors are afraid to leave reviews (positive or negative), they’re afraid of getting sued.

Recently, a gentleman asked about the safety concerns of a particular brand of mattress. He asked 4 simple questions and he thought he would get a fairly educated answer. Unfortunately, what he received was a stack of papers from the legal defense team of this mattress manufacturer. They wanted him to cease and desist his line of questioning, using social media as a way to discredit their company and to stop him from defaming their reputation.

Imagine, days after leaving a review based on your concerns you receive a package of legal documents threatening you with a lawsuit? Would you feel comfortable leaving a review the next time?

So why do I share this information? As an attorney representing clients in Indiana who prides himself on helping victims of false advertising and deceptive practices I feel that when reviewers get sued for voicing their first amendment rights it’s nothing more than a bully tactic.

And, yes we’ve gotten reviews that we aren’t happy about, and as much as I wish these reviews weren’t there, I can’t in good faith sue someone for their opinion. Nor as a lawyer who protects the “lawyer / client privilege” respond to negative comments made on a review site by a client. It’s just not how we do things here.

If you’ve been the victim of bully tactics from a business or their legal firm which resulted from a review you left on a website, call the Law Office of David W Holub at (219) 736-9700 today. For additional information and to receive our newsletter click the “Sign Up Now” button below.

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