We’ve all been there. You had a terrible experience with a company, service, or business. You feel so wronged that you’re compelled to put your passion to use and write a scathing review.
After all, that’s why reviews are there, right? To exercise our rights as the customer and the customer is always right – right?
Well, yes and no. Now the legal implications of leaving a review are becoming a reality and we are learning what is allowed and what could be considered illegal.
Not to deter you from expressing your opinion, that’s why reviews are there, and it is a right to voice our opinion.
However, since reviews have a massive stake in the success or failure of businesses, it’s important to remember the legal ramifications that can occur.
Let’s jump into what’s happening within this topic – the court is in session!
How Impactful Are Legal Reviews?
We know reviews and ratings are imperative to a business. “60% of consumers say that negative reviews made them not want to use a business.” More than 50% of consumers will reconsider doing business with a company based on reviews. Think how large that is and how it could contribute to loss of revenue, job loss, and potentially the closing of a business. That’s powerful and harmful in the same way.
According to research done by Harvard Business School, “Every additional one-star Yelp rating can cause an increase in the business’s revenue by as much as 9%.” This statistic exemplifies the drastic weight of words on a business’s success or failure. Reviews have a direct correlation to a business’s revenue and could lead to its demise — whether it’s deserved or not. It’s a tremendous amount of power in the voices of customers.
While, yes, it’s important to voice concerns or opinions, we need to consider how much the punishment fits the crime. There’s a significant difference between expressing your opinion and breaking the law to destroy a company purposely.
Can a Business Sue?
As a business owner or individual, you can sue somebody for any reason as long as there is merit. However, just because there’s merit doesn’t mean that you’ll win your case.
Here are several reasons a business can initiate a lawsuit:
- Violation of privacy rights
- Breach of contract
- Defamation of character
So How Can Customers Safely Express Opinions, without Lawsuits?
First, your opinions have to be truthful, valid, and without malice. If there’s malicious intent, it can be seen as one of the violations listed above in the previous paragraph.
Now, it’s not to say you cannot express your opinion, but there’s a difference between that and purposely trying to bring harm to a company, especially if there’s no merit to back up your claims.
Many states have laws that make it illegal for businesses to interfere with or manipulate online reviews. The laws are intended to prevent companies from abusing the review system, whether it’s soliciting or paying people to write positive reviews, or by pressuring customers into removing or modifying negative comments, or another tactic, such as review gating. Some laws help ensure consumers can share their honest opinions without the fear of being bullied by businesses. Here are a few examples of laws that protect online reviewers.
Automation Software Against Reputational Harm
You don’t have to worry about how a review can hurt your business when you control your business’s online reputation. One of the best defenses as a business owner is to invest in reputation software. That way, you can have all reviews monitored and handled appropriately before it’s too late.
One of the best defenses is to jump on a possible infringement as soon as possible. Therefore, it can be quickly rectified and resolved without legal headaches.
The high importance of online reviews makes it necessary to have a plan in place for online reputation management. It’s vital to respond to positive reviews and negative reviews quickly.
With ReviewInc’s reputation management software, businesses have the tools to properly oversee their online reputation and all reviews. This allows their team to respond quickly and appropriately, as well as collect new reviews.
To learn more about ReviewInc’s Review Flow, request a demo here.