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Addressing negative online reviews

One of the pillars of our society is freedom of speech. Regardless of whether we agree with other people, they are entitled to voice their opinion. However, it gets more complicated when someone voices their opinion via Yelp or another consumer platform, stating the products or services your business provides to customers seriously lacks in some way.

One bad review can ding a business, and many can put the company’s good name in jeopardy. Defamation may be an option in some cases, but the California Supreme Court has ruled that Yelp is immune to defamation suits and does not need to take down bad reviews. However, there are other options.

5 tips for handling bad online reviews

Whether these show up on Yelp, Foursquare or some other platform, here are some proportionate responses and advice that may help:

Do you care?: Some people ignore online reviews; others continually monitor them and ask for friends and happy customers to post reviews. There is no one way.

Yelp will take it down if it is fake: Yelp will not take it down unless it found to be a fraudulent review that was not by a real customer. A business can start the reevaluation process by flagging the review.

You cannot out-troll and troll: It is often best to make light of the review with a funny response, ignore the review, reveal the circumstances of the person who wrote it (perhaps a competitor), or address the criticism with facts.

What if it is an angry ex-employee?: Their employment contract may forbid the employee for making disparaging comments in the public arena about the business.

Other legal options

These responses are just a few options, with others weighing with their own opinions as well. An attorney is a good resource to turn to as well. Depending on the circumstances behind the review, they can tailor a strategy to address the issue with a letter, in court or by some other means.

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