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Guesthouse Owners Fail in Bid to Sue Writers of Negative TripAdvisor Reviews

If your business has received bad reviews on a major online review site, you have plenty of options to respond in a way that minimizes the potential negative impact of the reviews. You can follow best practices, apply operational changes, deliver better service, and change the conversation.

What we don’t recommend you do, however, is to engage in a legal battle with your review-writing customer.

We have seen several recent cases where business owners sue individuals after receiving negative reviews – like this one, wherein a Yelper in Virginia was sued by a housing contractor. Here at Review Trackers we think that taking the matter to court should not be your first option. One of the reasons why is because, more often than not, the cards will be against you anyway.

Take, for example, the case of Martin and Jacqui Clark, who run the Tigh Na Cheo Guest House in Kinlochleven, UK. After receiving a couple of negative reviews on travel review site TripAdvisor, the Clarks set out to obtain the identities of the two reviewers (“dreckit” from Manchester and “edna B” from London) – in order to sue them for defamation.

This week, the couple lost an appeal in their bid to take the matter to court. Appeal judges backed the original ruling issued in February, when Scottish courts decided that they had no jurisdiction over TripAdvisor, a US-based website.

(Check out: “Food Blogger Asked by French Court to Delete Negative Review of Italian Café”)

“The postings purported to review events that did not take place,” the Clarks had written in their petition. “They were not reviews submitted by actual travelers.” They contend that the postings were “made maliciously and that the reviews published were abuse or invective in the form of criticism.”

There’s no denying that online reviews on TripAdvisor can significantly influence business reputation and performance. According to recent research, 83 percent of travelers say that TripAdvisor reviews make them feel more confident in their travel decisions, and 53 percent won’t commit to booking anything until they have read online reviews. Furthermore, 89 percent of all travelers consider online reviews as influential when choosing where to go, and reviews even weigh more heavily than personal recommendations made by friends and family.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

Discussion

  1. Guy Cleveland

    Court should be always last (or no) option. You may win but i just doesn’t look good in the eyes of potential clients. Do we need to be scared now to make a negative comment if we feel the service was bad for example? On the other hand, Of course fake reviews should be dealt with promptly. Why should I allow to anybody to disgrace my establishment for no good reason?

    Reply
  2. David R

    They should turn the negative reviews into something positive instead of taking the case to court. After reading something like that I would never visit such place. If they could not handle a few bad reviews then they should not be in such business as there will always be unsatisfied clients.

    Reply
  3. Bowie

    That’s not fair! They can ruin your hard work with few keystrokes, but you are powerless to do anything. Keep in mind that negative reviews can be used by competitors.

    Reply
  4. WhateverWorks

    So, I can write as much negative reviews as I want and can’t be fined? That is not good at all. A single person can ruin the reputation of a 5 start place, by writing such review and he can’t be punished. He don’t need to visit a place, to order, or anything similar, simply sit down and write a bad review. Some actions are required to disable those kind of acts. Immediate actions.

    Reply
  5. Jason S.

    One tip for all fake reviewers: just say you saw some bugs running around the place. They can’t prove you are lying 😉

    Just kidding. It’s really unfair.

    Reply
  6. Fiona Wong

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if , let’s say, every business owner could evaluate his/her customer.

    Reply

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