New Media Marketing and Political Strategy, Mixed with Copywriting and based in Scottsdale, AZ.
Among the many things that the internet revolution has changed, the way that businesses and their customers settle disputes has been greatly altered.
Forums provided by Yahoo, Google Places and Yelp, to name a few, allow people to praise and complain about most any kind of business. While freedom of speech covers almost everything posted on these sites, there are some instances where your review of a business, if they can prove the information provided is untrue, would be considered “defamation” and could land you in court.
It’s hard to imagine this happening, but it did to a woman in Phoenix who was greatly dissatisfied with the work done by an auto repair shop. She posted her thoughts about her experience on Yelp and soon thereafter, received a call from a lawyer.
Instead of trying to make right by the customer and demonstrate to this extremely popular online community that they’re willing to stand behind their work, this particular business decided to prosecute.
Given the circumstances, this was clearly a poor decision on the part of the auto body repair shop. They end up looking petty and litigious, even if the settlement appears to be equitable.
After hiring a lawyer, the Phoenix woman and shop owners agreed that if she deleted the review, they’d drop the defamation suit.
There is not much precedent set for this sort of thing and it’s dangerous territory for businesses to sue their own customers over online reviews.
This will be an interesting area of internet law and one to follow if you’re a business owner or a frequent critic of your favorite and not-so-favorite places.
Video provided through fair usage by KPHO CBS 5 in Phoenix