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BlackBay Insights

  • Writer's pictureYianni van Gelder

How to deal with fake business reviews? These are your options.

Updated: May 1, 2023

How can I protect my business from fake and damaging reviews?

Business reputations can take years to build and moments to crumble. In this online age, internet users have immense power over businesses and how they can be perceived, particularly through platforms like Google reviews, Yelp and various social media platforms. Vindictive competitors, online trolls or picky customers that exaggerate issues or defects, are just some of the threats facing businesses today.

If someone has posted a false and damaging review about your business, what are your options?

  1. Ask the author to remove the review.

    1. This is a cost-effective way of minimising harm to your business but of course, it requires the agreement of the author. If the author of the review is a disgruntled customer, try and resolve the matter quickly without the need for further escalation.

  2. Post a response to the review.

    1. Several review platforms allow the business to respond to each customer review. Provide your side of the story in a dispassionate and balanced manner. If it is an unknown troll, explain in your response that the author has never used or engaged with your business before.

  3. Ask the online platform to remove the review.

    1. Many reputable review platforms have a content moderator that can remove content that breaches their ‘policies and guidelines’. You typically only get one shot at convincing them to remove it, so it is imperative you make the strongest possible case (something BlackBay Lawyers can assist with).

  4. Send a legal letter requesting a retraction and apology letter from the author

    1. If the review has been publicly visible for a long time, asking the author to remove it may not be enough to restore your business reputation. If it is defamatory or misleading and deceptive, submit to the author of the review that the review is defamatory and request a full retraction of comments and apology as well as the deletion of the original review. Often when faced with the prospect of hefty legal ramifications, an author of the review may accede to your request.

  5. Commence proceedings if there is a legal basis to do so

    1. Exercise this option only as a last resort. A defamation suit can only be successful if the review has inflicted ‘serious harm’ on your business. You would have to prove that the post has resulted in or is likely to result in serious financial loss. Lawsuits also usually bring further public attention to the review since defamation matters are heard in an open court. This can damage your businesses reputation even further. If your claim is successful however, a court can impose a takedown order and reasonable compensation for loss suffered.

    2. Alternatives to claims in defamation may include a claim in injurious falsehood and/or misleading and deceptive conduct pursuant to the Australian Consumer Law.

  6. Accept that negative reviews are a natural part of having a small business.

    1. Harmful reviews can be helpful. Nobody expects a business to be infallible, and unhappy customers may be inevitable. If you respond to harmful reviews effectively and appropriately you can protect or improve your businesses reputation, or at least keep harm to a minimum. Proper responses demonstrate that your company is empathetic and takes criticism seriously.

If your business has come under attack and you would like assistance with any of the above steps, contact Blackbay Lawyers for expert help.

Witten by Yianni van Gelder

2 comentários

David Mery
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