Reputation Management Online: Restaurant Owner Response to Customer Reviews Backfires

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

There are many effective ways to manage your company’s reputation on the Internet. However, your reputation management activities should not include the mistakes made by a Canadian restaurant owner who because upset about negative client reviews posted online.

To retaliate, the restaurant owner set up a fake profile for her client on a sex-oriented website and sent out inappropriate related emails.

Now, the owner has been found guilty of criminal libel. This means she’s got massive legal problems in addition a reputation issue that’s far worse than if she had simply used legitimate reputation management SEO strategies and tactics.

If you’re upset about client reviews for your business on the Internet, consult with your Internet lawyer to map out a game plan to minimize the damage caused without incurring legal liability or further damaging your online reputation. Your Internet attorney can work with you and a legitimate SEO company to help repair your reputation.

Fake Customer Reviews and Internet Law

By | Internet Lawyer | No Comments

Professor Eric Goldman has an excellent post about Internet fake client reviews: What Are Appropriate Compensatory Damages for 3 Fake Competitor Reviews? The Surprising Answer–Fireworks Restoration v. Hosto.

Nominal actual damages were awarded but $150,000 in punitive damages were slapped against the guy writing negative fake client reviews against his former business partner.

As I’ve explained to my Internet law clients, there are plenty of ways to compete fairly online without resorting to “black hat” marketing tactics that end up costing your business far more than you’ll ever make by using them.

Given the importance of online client reviews to many companies, both Internet-based and brick-and-mortar establishments, this issue will continue to wind its way through the courts because the temptation to post fake negative reviews is simply too great for some to pass up. You see it all the time in reviews on Google, Amazon, etc. Someone with an axe to grind decides to smear the reputation of a company by posting a false client review.

No one says you have to promote your competitor’s business online. But it’s good practice to treat your competitor’s reputation the same way you’d like your competitor to treat yours when engaging in Internet marketing strategies and tactics.

Web Lawyer: Gaming your testimonials and reviews

By | Website Lawyer | No Comments

As a Web lawyer, I run into gurus who still make wild claims online in their sales copy, testimonials, and reviews because they haven’t been nailed yet by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The key word in this sentence is “yet.”

The FTC is cracking down against Internet claims based on the guidelines that went into effect last December.

Here’s an example of what not to do…

A public relations company was hired to post positive reviews of their client’s games. The PR business’s employees would write fake reviews of the software developer’s games in the iTunes store and then give the software 4 or 5 stars.

When the FTC got wind of this, they went after both the company as a corporation and the company’s owner as an individual. In other words, the PR business’s owner got put on the hook too for the testimonials without the corporate shield offering protection.

What went wrong?

Under the FTC guidelines, you’re supposed to fully disclose the material connections between the testimonial provider and product/service being promoted. Because this didn’t happen in this case, people reading the PR business’s positive reviews of the games could falsely assume the reviews were independent and unbiased.

If there’s a material connection that can taint a review or testimonial (such as being an affiliate for the product or service), that information must be disclosed so that readers can make an informed decision before buying. Your web lawyer can help you use choose the right words.

To your online success!

-Mike the Web Lawyer