Internet marketing resources, ecommerce web site design tutorials and  just for fun - free cell phone ringtones!
  Taming the Beast - quality web marketing and ecommerce development services

Consumer sued for negative online review

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Tuesday January 13, 2009 )

As much as I hate law suits, I think this one had some merit. Too often people confuse freedom of speech as being freedom from responsibility. A disgruntled customer who exaggerates has the ability to pull down a business.

In a recent case, a client of a chiropractor posted comments online that the doctor was dishonest. The doctor then instigated a defamation lawsuit.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of the case, but just for purposes of this piece, I’ll assume the doc was unfairly hammered by the disgruntled client. That being so, the chiropractor has done all of us a favor as it’s a clear warning to consumers they need to think a little more before ranting.

I have no problem with clients who have a problem. I have no problem with a customer who has been royally screwed who shouts about his misfortune from the rooftops. In doing so they provide a valuable warning to other consumers and possibly a much-needed wake up call to the company involved.

What I intensely dislike is when consumers air their grievances without first communicating with the merchant (properly) or embellish the severity of the situation to the point of downright lies. These people can do massive harm to a business. The pen, digital or otherwise, can indeed be mightier than the sword.

Some customers will use the “I will post bad stuff about you on every forum” as a form of extortion and they should be slammed for it if they do; don’t cave into it. It’s a bit like the child who threatens to hold their breath until they turn blue. If you do give in to such immature threats, it only reinforces the behavior. Simply put, the customer is *not* always right and that old saying stating they are is probably one of the worst pieces of “wisdom” ever applied to business.

When these rare situations have come up in the past as I’ve been working with various companies, I simply tell the client they are free to post whatever they wish wherever they wish; but they should be aware that they will be held accountable for anything they say and their threat will be kept on file in case its needed in litigation proceedings.

I also mention that I would expect a right of reply and may post information in relation to their complaint they may not have mentioned in order to defend the company. That will *usually* stop them from proceeding with their threat. Again, this is only in cases where the customer is being unreasonable.

If they do make good on their threat after the warning, it will be usually done anonymously with lack specifics and therefore not hold much sway over a community of reasonable individuals. Regardless, it’s still important to monitor your online reputation in order to take action if something like this should occur.


Dealing with aggressive clients

Complaints and the Streisand effect


Comments for Consumer sued for negative online review

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.