The ability to post a negative review about a business’ products or services might come with a heavy price tag. In fact, writing a negative review on websites such as Yelp could get you sued. NPR reported this week that a business owner sued a previous client for defamation because of the things she wrote in Yelp review.
According to NPR, housing contractor Christopher Dietz took Jane Perez to court for $750,000 in defamation charges. She wrote a negative review about his company Dietz Development LLC, stating that her home was damaged and that jewelry was missing after the company was done with their work. In response to the review, Dietz sued Perez, and the judge ruled in his favor. He ordered that she remove parts of her negative reviews.
Although not unheard of, these types of cases are rare. Santa Clara University Law professor Eric Goldman told NPR that they’re still creating the rules on how to handle customer reviews, and as of now, there is no law supporting lawsuits for a “single, negative review.”
But there is a reason why businesses are motivated to use online reputation management. NPR reports that a 2011 Harvard study revealed that a one-star increase on Yelp review provides a 5 to 9 percent increase in profits.
While anyone can write a negative review, it’s important to remember that not everything is permissible. The key to writing a customer review on the internet is making sure it is accurate or truthful; if a business owner considers your words untrue, libelous, or defamatory, you could be faced with a lawsuit.