Bad Idea: Law Suits for Negative Internet Reviews By Customers

From time to time clients ask us to sue their customers for posting bad consumer reviews on web sites like “Pissed Consumer”. There are several ways to counter a bad consumer review. A law suit is not the best one of them.

Bad reviews may be taken down by an author. So, satisfying a disgruntled customer can erase the bad publicity. Satisfying customers, even when they are wrong, can be good business.

Another way to counter a bad review is to ask your satisfied customers to post good reviews about their experiences with your business.

Apart from the expense and a low chance of winning and collecting damages from a complaining consumer, the federal government is now siding with some consumers.

In one such instance, to bar consumer complaints about it, a retailer made buyers agree in writing not to complain about its product. But, a buyer complained anyway. When the business sued the consumer, the Federal Trade Commission jumped in and filed a federal lawsuit against the retailer. The FTC maintains that the business forbidding an expression of honest consumer opinion violates the public interest.

However, when a consumer is lying, instead of just complaining, the stakes can be high for a reputable business, especially in a competitive environment. Even then, though, the economics of suing demands an unflinching and skeptical cost-benefit study.

Suits against the websites, themselves, for carrying false consumer claims and refusing to take them down are not favored by the courts, but a few have proven beneficial.