Customers today have a sense of freedom and power they didn’t have a decade ago when social media was still in its infancy. But as social media has become a part of people’s daily lives, more people are turning to business review sites like RipoffReport.com and Yelp.com, as well as social sites like Facebook and Twitter, to post comments about a company or product.
Many purchasers will often read customer reviews before purchasing a trip, a toy, a smartphone or even making a reservation at a local restaurant.
There is an ongoing debate about the limits of consumers’ free speech rights and companies’ efforts to quash negative online reviews due to a recent incident over a customer review about KlearGear.com. KlearGear threatened to fine the customer $3500 if she didn’t take down a negative posting about their company. She had written the critique on RipoffReport.com.
According to a recent article in TechDirt, “Lots of quasi-legal action has been taken over negative reviews left by customers at sites like Ripoff Report and Yelp. Usually, it takes the form of post-review threats about defamation and libel. Every so often, though, a company will make proactive moves (usually bad ones) to head off negative reviews.”
In the Kleargear imbroglio, a consumer complained that her husband had ordered a number of products from Kleargear.com and 30 days later the products allegedly had not yet arrived. The consumer tried to call the company to check on the status of her order but was allegedly not able to reach anyone, so she wrote about her experience on RipoffReport. After the company saw the post, the consumer was threatened to either take the negative review down or be fined. [Read more...]