Could Leaving a Negative Review Online Get you in Hot Water?

From what I’ve seen a major search engine starting with the letter G seems to favor negative reviews. Perhaps because they want to keep things authentic. And that means that even the best companies screw up and who knows what people will say about you online.

I’ve recommended that small businesses have a profile and watch feedback from customers on Yelp (read my tips on using Yelp).

There was a blog post about Yelp and a pending lawsuit against someone who left a negative review. Did you know that if you call a business dishonest they could sue you? That’s what happened when someone left this feedback for a local chiropractor on Yelp.

Here’s what he wrote:

“I don’t think good business means charging people whatever you feel like hoping they’ll pay without a fuss. Especially considering that I found a much better, honest chiropractor.”

The chiropractor billed this guy’s insurance company four times what was quoted for two office visits in 2006. This is common practice from what I’ve seen. The chiropractor said he charged more for the extra time and effort his office spends dealing with the insurers. The case was recently settled out of court.

While you can always state your opinion but be careful not to represent it as a fact. Normally a lawsuit isn’t the best way to go.

Personally I think you should only go online with your criticism if you’ve given the company a clear chance to make right. Blogger Carl Natale suggests not deleting or restricting comments that are critical of your business. The commenter can get angry and start a campaign to smear you on other sites. At least by responding you can keep criticism on your site and respond directly.

Carl makes another good point. If you keep the negativity on your site you will be the first to read and be able to respond to it. Hopefully you can contain it – after all you asked for feedback.


Nick Stamoulis

I have seen companies crumble due to bad press online. Sometimes it just gets out of control and spiral before you get your hands on it and correct the situation.

Comments are closed.