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Are reviews trustworthy if companies go legal every time they get a poor rating?

By Chris Dawson May 21, 2017 - 8:04 pm

What would it be like if everyone threatened to sue whenever they were left bad feedback? We’ve seen it occasionally in the past where a seller received negative feedback, or even in one instance where it was only a neutral feedback that was left.

Over the last few days a story has come to light of a woman being sued for leaving a poor review on TripAdvisor. The restaurant claims the reviews were left after they banned her for being obnoxious to staff on the phone when trying to book. She claimed in her review that the staff were rude and the food mediocre. The result of her bad review – an 11 page letter claiming 10s of 1,000s of pounds worth of damages and a threat to take legal action.

It doesn’t appear to the be first time the restaurant has threatened customers who have left poor reviews, there are a number of other people who claim they also received legal letters after posting less than glowing reports.

The trouble with suing someone for the review is that you have to claim defamation and show that the business has suffered serious financial loss as a result of the review. That’s a pretty tough thing to prove – online on eBay you have to show sales suffered as a result of that one feedback, or in the case of this restaurant, they have to show that bookings are substantially down because people read the review.

What pressing the legal button really appears to be used for is simply to frighten reviewers into editing or removing poor reviews. With that in mind the question has to be asked, are reviews worth it in the first place and if you left a review for a dodgy restaurant and they threatened legal action would you remove the review or dig your heels in?

  • Paul
    4 years ago

    If Ebay and Amazon were restaurants, they’d be full of diners complaining that their meals had actually failed to arrive, just as they are wiping their chins and ordering the brandy. Look, there’s no food here so can you prove you ever put it on my plate?

    As a rule, people who set themselves up as ‘online reviewers’ to comment on everything they purchase give the impression of being a group of lonely, sad f*ckwits who occasionally deserve a frightener to put them in their place.

    Please note this review of reviewers is based on general experience over the last decade and is not aimed any any specific marketplace, buyer or reviewer. Honest.

  • DH
    4 years ago

    I think review are good but only if there are a few to justify a products rating.

    On Ebay sometimes you get one irate customer give something a 1 star review simple because they are unable to properly use a product and that one bad review will have massive detrimental affect on the sales on that listing.

    I think Ebay should only publish reviews for a product once there has been 5 reviews to give more balance.

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      well put DH
      ebay do not show stars etc on feedback until 10 comments or responses, why ?
      we also think it is incumbent on review sites to protect honest reviewers or the value of their product is worthless

  • james
    4 years ago

    the quality of reviews is dependent on many factors:

    impartiality
    knowledge
    expertise
    literacy
    fact checking
    initiative
    consistency
    fairness

    to name just a few. you can bet a which? article or other proper review site would aim to attain all of these.

    customer reviews on the other hand, are like word soup more often than not.
    if you can aggregate 10,000+ user reviews it may start to flatten out the lunatics, but otherwise, customer reviews are a case of “how long could you avoid the moron?”

    imagine if you will, the perfect product. crafted by angels in heaven.
    the first idiot to buy one sticks his tongue in it for no reason and breaks it.
    “1 star. wurst fing eva”.

    even some basic monitoring can weed out the extreme crazies and “i only review when i want to rant” crowd, and produce useful results, but who bothers with basic monitoring these days when its cheaper to ignore things completely?

    perhaps suing the ones who abuse reviews for their own petty “revenge” would improve the overall perception of online reviews and make them useful once more.

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    well most of us are the subject to one type of review and thats market place feedback

    we average around 2 negatives in a thousand comments which if were honest with ourselves we probably deserve for one reason or another

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