Is It Possible to Sue Someone Over a Negative Review on Your Painting Business?

can you sue someone over a negative online review

In business, reputation is everything. Most successful businesses have established themselves as a company people can trust and rely on. A solid base of referrals or reviews can quickly cement your company as a local or industry leader. Online reviews play a huge role in building a business’s reputation—most modern consumers research businesses on the internet and make purchasing decisions based on five-star and glowing reviews.

However, while positive reviews are essential for expanding your business, negative reviews can send business straight to your competitors. As a business owner, you’ll have to learn how to effectively deal with negative online reviews so that they don’t harm your reputation or deter customers. Dealing with negative reviews can be challenging—especially when they are biased or untrue. However, handling them effectively is of the utmost importance. If you run a painting contractor business, here are some strategies for dealing with negative reviews.

Can You Sue Someone Over a Negative Review?

Most reviews are covered under the First Amendment, which protects free speech. In addition, other legislation, such as Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) enhance the protections under the First Amendment by preventing businesses from silencing critics. For business owners, this means that customers who are unhappy with your products or services have the right to say so in a review. Some examples of negative reviews that are ineligible for legal action include:

● “Their services weren’t worth the cost.”
● “I waited too long for my product or service.”
● “The customer service was horrible.”

However, there are some circumstances in which a business owner could sue an online reviewer for defamation. If a customer posts a review that contains factually inaccurate information about your business, you could have the grounds to sue. Some examples of online reviews in which you could pursue legal action—if they were inaccurate—include:

● “They charged me for services I never received.”
● “They don’t have the proper licensing or certifications to perform their service.”
● “One of their employees stole valuables from my home.”

Before considering any kind of legal action towards an online reviewer, it is important to be sure that you have the legal grounds to sue.

Can I Sue the Review Website?

Under the U.S. Communications Decency Act, websites cannot be held accountable for the content published by their users. This legally protects review websites such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and Angie’s List from being sued by companies that have negative reviews on their platforms. In short, you can’t sue review websites.

What You Should Do When You Get a Negative Review

In most cases, suing is not the best course of action for dealing with negative reviews. Pursuing legal action takes time, money, and energy that could be better spent focusing on your business. That said, if the review is extremely harmful to your business and contains false information that is actively deterring customers, it might be worth it to sue the reviewer. Some practical ways to deal with negative reviews include:

● Kindly ask the review website to remove the online review. In your request, you can explain that the negative review contains inaccurate, unfair information.
● Respond to the negative review with an apologetic, gracious attitude. In your response, bring up the issue posted in the negative review and explain how your business is working to address the problem.
● Focus your energy on accumulating positive reviews by providing a superior service to your customers.

While your initial response to a negative review might be defensive, it is important to not respond in a reactive manner. Taking a gracious, humble approach is almost always the best way to deal with negative reviews.

Consult With the Business Coaches at Painter’s Academy to Grow Your Online Presence

For painting contractors, developing a positive online presence is essential. If you are looking to grow your painting company, the business coaches at Painter’s Academy are here to help. Our team provides painting contractors with the marketing advice and strategies they need to take their business to the next level. To speak with one of our marketing professionals, call today at (423) 800-0520 or fill out our online contact form.

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