Dealing with negative online reviews

legal updates

You should deal with the situation as it is and, offer a solution if there is one.

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Unfortunately, the world is full of keyboard warriors who think they can get their way by threatening and, on some occasions posting, reviews of your company.  They seem to think it is a reasonable negotiating position and regrettably, in many instances, it is easier to bow to the pressure and succumb to their narrative.

However, it does not have to end that way.  You do have rights with the online platform and you can seize the initiative back.

Here are a few tips/golden rules to follow:

  1. Act promptly. The more quickly you react to the review, the sooner it can be removed, the customer’s complaint can be resolved and, potentially, a happy customer will reverse a 1-star review to a 5-stars review.
  2. Do not hit back at the customer.  Most people read negative reviews and consider the reviewer is being malicious and the account needs to be read with a pinch of salt.  If you reply in kind, it looks unprofessional and any sympathy that you may have had from the reader instantly dissolves. Be the bigger person however much it sticks in your craw.
  3. Write a reasonable and detailed response to the review.  This is something Lawgistics are adept at and we urge you to contact us for assistance on a posting a courteous and comprehensive reply.  You should deal with the situation as it is and, offer a solution if there is one. If reasonable to do so, set out your side of the story and leave the readers in no doubt that you are in the right and, if you are not, you have been trying to resolve things from the off.
  4. Take it offline. Conduct your negotiations and discussions with the reviewer by telephone or email, not in a public forum.  Again, your reputation has more to lose in the glare of the online platform.
  5. If you can reach a compromise with the customer, ask them to remove the review as part of the settlement. 
  6. Contact the website and ask them to take down the review.  However, they will need to be satisfied that the review is false, vindictive etc, or falls foul of their terms. Not every bad review is entirely false and, if the reviewer or website provider can justify their position, it is unlikely to be removed and will be left for the public to draw their own conclusions.  If the review is left online, then it is important to take the action detailed in number 3 as soon as possible.

We are always here to help, as what begins as a negative review molehill can blow up into a legal mountain very quickly.

Conversely however, there is some good news for companies faced with a keyboard warrior.  A recent case that was heard for defamation resulted in the Claimant (a firm of solicitors) being awarded £25,000 for such false claims.  It is worth setting out that the Defendant called them “scam solicitors” but the Claimant was able to show the court a downturn in enquiries following the review, that the Defendant was a litigant in person and also did not turn up to the hearing. This type of case is certainly not the norm, but it is not impossible to pursue a claim for defamation and be successful.

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Darren FletcherLegal AdvisorRead More by this author

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