Established 1958 ~ Hardball Business Litigation & Complex Negotiations

Can a Business Owner Sue a Customer for Posting a Negative Review?

Nowadays, posting an online review about a business is easy. The consumer simply shares their experience on social media platforms. While many consumers use these platforms to post positive reviews about companies, unhappy or dissatisfied customers will also share their negative experiences. These reviews can be very helpful to other prospective customers because it helps them to discard unprofessional companies. However, poor reviews can ruin a company’s reputation. When a review is untrue, the business owner may be able to sue the customer for defamation. An experienced business lawyer can review the details of the case and determine whether the business owner has grounds for a lawsuit.

According to a Pew Research Center study, 82 percent of adults say that they read online reviews at least some of the time. Customers have every right to post their opinions online about whether or not they were happy with their experiences with businesses. However, when the comments are factually inaccurate or untrue, there may be grounds for a defamation lawsuit.

What is the Best Way to Respond to a Negative Review?

Even if a negative comment qualifies as defamation and the business owner ultimately pursues a defamation lawsuit, the following are effective strategies that business owners can use to handle negative reviews:

  • Request to remove the negative comment. The business owner may contact the owner of the website and request that the factually inaccurate and defamatory comments be removed. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the owner of the website is not legally obligated to remove the negative review.
  • Post a constructive response. One of the best ways to address a negative review is to post a thoughtful and gracious response. Respond to the specific issues that were brought up in the review, and inform the customer that proactive steps are being taken to address the problem and ensure that it does not happen again.
  • Generate positive online reviews. When products and services are consistently strong, customers are more likely to post positive reviews. Businesses should always strive to provide excellent goods and services to their customers.

There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to a negative review. The following are examples of what not to do when a customer posts a negative online review:

  • React too quickly. After reading a negative comment, it may be tempting to respond immediately. However, if the response is negative and was made in the heat of the moment, it can make the situation worse. Take some time to calm down before responding, and put together a response that is measured and professional.
  • Ignore the comment. Despite being difficult to read, business owners should not ignore or disregard negative comments because they are critical or disparaging. Consider whether there is any truth behind the comments; it may be an opportunity to make some changes or improvements going forward.
  • Retaliate against the reviewer. This can cause problems in the future for a business owner, particularly if they plan to proceed with a defamation lawsuit.

Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) lawsuit is a civil complaint or counterclaim that a business owner can file against an individual or an organization who posted a negative online review. Oftentimes, filers do so in order to protect an economic interest as well as their professional reputation.

However, before filing a SLAPP lawsuit, it is important for business owners to understand that Pennsylvania has passed anti-SLAPP laws that prevent individuals or businesses from censoring critics with the threat of a lawsuit. For help understand the legal options after a negative business review, it is beneficial to speak to a business lawyer.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Business Owners with Defamation Lawsuits

If a customer posted a negative review about your company and the comments were unfair or untrue, the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. will help you seek compensation for the loss of customers and income caused by the false statements. For an initial consultation, call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.