What are My Legal Rights When it Comes to Online Reviews?
No one wants to see negative online reviews of their business online. As we previously discussed on this blog, negative online reviews can seriously affect how likely customers are to use your business, and how much they want or expect to pay for your services. While negative online reviews can be detrimental to your business, they can be especially problematic when you know or think they information that they express is notably untrue. Your consumers have rights as private patrons and individuals in the United States, but you also have rights that protect your name and your business. JackMyRep uses various strategies for dealing with unfortunate assessments of your business.
Know Your Legal Rights
As a business owner, if someone says something factually incorrect about your business, you can sue for defamation. By pursuing legal action against the poster, you can probably reveal who the negative reviewer is even if they posted anonymously to a website. However it’s also possible that you have an idea of which of your customers may have published a disgruntled and factually incorrect online review.
Legal action against your previous customers can be costly. The Government seriously protects the First Amendment, the right to free speech. You should also consider how a customer’s privacy might be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when discussing legal action. Furthermore, you need to be sure that your before you seriously consider pursuing action to stop a potentially slanderous online review, you consult with your legal counsel to make sure that legal action is the most prudent action to take against the poster.
Assume Control over Your Review Process
You can ask your customers to submit reviews to your own private service, and then ask for permission to re-post these reviews. If you assert a specific website, or a response form through a service like SurveyMonkey, you can see who of your customers felt strongly about the services you offered. Just like you don’t want inaccurate negative reviews of your business proliferating around the internet, you cannot and should not create falsely embellishing reviews of your product online. However, if you ask all your patients to submit reviews to a website or web form that you or a company like JackMyRep controls, you or that service will be able to re-post, with your customers’ permission, positive information about your business, while restricting negative information. It is important to note when considering re-posting a positive review that you have permission to re-post the patient’s opinion if you work in a medical industry, so that you can be in compliance with HIPAA. HIPAA stipulates serious restrictions on the type of information and reasons that you can disclose information about someone’s personal health information.
Don’t Wait, Arbitrate
Many review websites like Ripoff Report offer options for arbitration if you would like to negotiate with a dissatisfied customer who posted on their website. Other websites like Yelp offer options for companies to complain about unfair postings. Even if you control the review process yourself, it is smart to respond to a negative reviewer before they take their opinion to the internet at large. Finding the person who posted a negative review and working with them through their complaints can be a quick fix to a serious problem and can also remove the need for a prolonged legal battle with its accompanying expenses.