Many people use online review websites such as Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, and Google to formulate their perceptions of a business and to influence their decisions on purchasing or acquiring a business’ product or services. Therefore, online review websites can be a useful tool in aiding businesses in marketing their products and services, and to increase their brand awareness to customers. However, whilst positive online reviews can improve a business’ reputation, online review websites can be manipulated to cause disruption to your business through the posting of negative fake reviews.
Fake reviews on the Internet through online review websites can have a substantial impact on your business and reputation. The threat of fake reviews can damage your business reputation in an instance, or even worse threaten the future existence of the business. It can take years to build a reputation, but defamation from just one fake review can destroy your business reputation in a matter of seconds. Therefore, it is imperative to not just sit back, but to take action against any fake reviews online to ensure your hard work is not wasted or undone.
Do I Have A Claim?
If the online review is fake and untrue, and has caused or likely to cause significant harm to your business in terms of financial loss and reputation, then you have a claim for defamation.
What Are The Steps You Should Take When Dealing With Fake Reviews?
What you should do would depend on whether your business is currently experiencing serious harm from the nature of the fake review, how long the fake review has been posted, and what you expect from the outcome.
The first point of call would be to try to contact the reviewer by sending a message or simply reply to the fake review to ask the reviewer to remove the fake review, and to put the reviewer on notice that you would consider taking legal action if the fake defamatory review is not taken down. When replying to the fake review, it is in your best interests to remain calm and compose a dignified response.
In the meantime, it may be worthwhile to contact the online review website to get the fake defamatory review removed.
These initial steps may feel like lost time, especially when negotiating with the reviewer and the online review website can take some time, and you may not get the outcome you would have expected. However, these steps are usually what you should do in the first instance when dealing with fake defamatory reviews on online review websites, in order to minimise the chances of the matter escalating to a legal battle in the courts, which can ultimately prove time consuming and costly.
On the other hand, if your business is already experiencing significant harm from the fake defamatory review, then you should take legal action immediately. Taking legal action involves sending a letter before action to put the reviewer on notice that you would take legal action through court proceedings if the fake defamatory post is not removed. If this is unsuccessful, then the next stage would be to make a defamation claim through court proceedings.
It is important to note that during a defamation claim in court proceedings, the onus is on the business to prove that the fake review is defamation, and to provide evidence that the fake review has caused significant harm to your business in terms of financial loss and reputation.
If you do intend to deal with the matter through the courts, then you need to act quickly as you only have one year of making a court claim for defamation from the date of the fake review posting.
How We Can Help?
If you have found a fake defamatory online review about your business, you need to act quickly and take decisive action to quell any further negative impact on your business so that your losses are kept to a minimum.
Our defamation solicitors can provide tailored advice unique to your circumstances and can help:
- Claim for financial losses and damages
- Seek an injunction or undertaking to stop the republication of the defamatory statement
- Seek an apology
It is in the best interests of your business that you act quickly to increase the likelihood of a better outcome.