Why It Is Difficult to Remove Negative Reviews

September 22, 2014 8:34 pm Leave your thoughts

Customers seeking out information on your business demand easy access first and foremost. As a way to create a dialogue with your audience, it’s imperative to generate a significant number of online reviews. In the past, a person’s reputation was based on his or her actions. Today’s generation is judged largely by how their past customers speak about them online.

Although our company, The Review SolutionTM, has experience in removing negative reviews, it is extremely difficult to do so. Unless the content actually violates the Terms of Service, a site will not remove bad reviews. And so, even if we assist your business in removing negative reviews, you will still need a proactive strategy for generating positive reviews in the future. By waiting until another negative review appears ? or the original poster of the negative review reposts the negative complaint in a compliant manner ? you run the risk of developing a poor online reputation.

Remove Negative ReviewsSome review sites will be more relevant to your online reputation than others. For example, restaurant owners might be more concerned with Yelp, while contractors might focus on Angie’s List. As a resort or hotel manager, a TripAdvisor review likely holds the most weight in your industry. Regardless, it’s a guarantee that popular review sites are shaping your business’ online reputation. The key is to encourage customers to post reviews on sites that will be most beneficial for your online reputation management efforts.

Be forewarned ? review sites are well equipped to deal with any devious tactics. In the past, businesses have tried carefully spacing out reviews, developing fictitious profiles, asking friends and family members to pen reviews and using different computers with unique IP addresses. Even if a few of these fraudulent reviews slip past spam filters and manual evaluation, a business still runs the risk of being found out and penalized. While fraudulent reviews continue to be a major headache for online review sites, they are fighting back hard against the onslaught of false or inaccurate content.

Apart from monitoring engagement and encouraging customers to offer feedback, the best way to gain positive reviews is by demonstrating care for the customer. Just how important are customer reviews for repeat business? Consider this fact: 95 percent of unhappy customers say they’ll return to a business if their issue is resolved efficiently and effectively. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 90 percent of unhappy customers will not do business with the same company again if they see negative reviews.

In an ideal world, businesses would have the ability to remove negative reviews. But that is not the reality. Here are a few examples of court cases involving requests for sites to remove negative reviews:

  • 2011: A Washington, D.C woman was sued after issuing an F rating to her contractor on Angie’s List and suggesting that he may have stolen jewelry. A judge ruled that the negative review could remain published online, but the libel case could continue.
  • 2011: Two Arizona surgeons were awarded $12 million after a patient created a website to accuse the doctors of negligent behavior.
  • 2012: The Grace Bible Church in Beaverton, Oregon sued a former member who criticized the church online for “spiritual abuse” and being “creepy.” A judge dismissed the suit and stated that the site would not be responsible for removing bad reviews due to “free speech.”
  • 2012: A U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Pigeon Forge, Tenn., hotel after Trip Advisor referred to it as “the dirtiest hotel in America” based on user reviews. The court concluded that the “dirty” designation wasn’t defamatory and that the site was not required to remove the bad reviews.
  • 2013: Samsung was fined over $340,000 for hiring independent contractors to write and publish fake reviews for its products.

The federal law that protects review sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, and TripAdvisor can lead to some audacious claims. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects review sites from libel claims as long as they simply permit content publication and don’t actively control posts. By removing bad reviews, these sites would be going against their claims of offering unfiltered commentary.

There’s little question that review and ratings sites are a boon for consumers, who can spend just a few minutes online seeking out advice on restaurants, vacations, legal assistance and healthcare. However, the lack of administration on most of these sites often detracts from their credibility. And given the proliferation of anonymous user reviews, businesses will likely face a massive challenge when proceeding with defamation claims.

For most businesses, removing negative online reviews presents an insurmountable challenge. Accumulating positive reviews, however, can be a reality through The Review SolutionTM. While it will not remove bad reviews, The Review Solution provides a simple, efficient way for business owners to inspire customers to post reviews at the point of service. Via The Review Solution app, satisfied customers are asked to provide a balanced online review of the business products or services. With more than a dozen primary online review sites, as well as medical, dental and specialty sites, there is no better way to accumulate the online reviews needed to populate these sites than The Review Solution.

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Aaron Kocourek

Chief Strategist at Reputation Advocate
Aaron Kocourek serves as Chief Technology Officer for Third Coast Interactive, Inc. (TCI). He is primary responsible for the overall development of mobile based applications including The Review Solution.