Ripoff Report is a site where consumers are encouraged to post negative reviews of businesses that they feel have ripped them off.
This seems like a great idea in theory. In this day and age, lots of people rely on online reviews when they’re choosing where to buy a computer, which attorney to work with, or even what movie to see on the weekend. The idea behind Ripoff Report is that, by sharing negative experiences, users can get the word out about crummy businesses and slimy sales tactics—and ultimately save other consumers the trouble. In fact, their trademarked slogan is “Let the truth be known!”
However, the site doesn’t do much to make sure that the reports posted by users are true and accurate, or even that the users posting the reports have truly been customers or clients of the businesses they review. Pretty much anyone can post whatever they want about a business, as long as they have a valid email address and click a few buttons. While other review sites usually offer some way for businesses to respond to negative reviews, Ripoff Report doesn’t give business owners or service providers much recourse when lies and half-truths are posted by consumers. And, once a report is posted, it stays there forever, is easily searchable through major search engines, and won’t be removed simply because consumers and businesses have resolved a complaint.
This can be a huge and embarrassing problem for businesses, including those that do everything in their power to resolve complaints and make their clients and customers happy. If you’re one of the many businesses that have been unfairly called out in a Ripoff Report and have concerns, here’s what you can do.
Four Options for Businesses Worried About an Untrue Ripoff Report
While there aren’t any surefire ways to remove an inaccurate or untruthful Ripoff Report, there are a few things you can try:
If you think the report is a lie, and you can prove it, then you can enter arbitration in an attempt to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best solution because you will be charged a $2,000 arbitration fee. That is a lot of money to pay just to have a post removed, and it’s probably only a real option for businesses when a report is both clearly harmful and downright wrong.
2. Becoming a Member
For businesses affected by negative and untruthful reports, Ripoff Report can start to look like a pretty big scam itself. The site actually allows you to pay to join its “Corporate Advocacy Program,” which basically means you can just pay to have the report go from negative to positive. It’s not clear how much it costs to join, but I would not recommend paying for this. It might do the job you want, but this is just an absurd service they are providing. It seems likely that, if this fact were better known, it would even make the people who submit legitimate reports through the site angry.
3. Responding With a Rebuttal
One of the best options for dealing with an untruthful Ripoff Report is responding with a rebuttal. This gives you a chance to offer more facts and your side of the story, which is probably your best bet if the negative report is based on misunderstanding or someone being a bit emotional about the whole thing. Offering a clearer picture of the situation with your input often clears the air and makes it seem like you were in the right. According to the Ripoff Report site, your rebuttal can include the following:
- Your side of the story.
- Positive references showing that you have a good reputation.
- An explanation of why you believe the report is not accurate in some way. Remember to be as specific as possible! If you think the report is a hoax, you should say so and demand that the author provide some proof that the transaction or event really happened.
- Contact information for people to reach you if they want more information.
- Any other useful information which you believe an interested reader needs to know about you or your business
4. Removing the Report From Google
Search Engine Land goes into detail about another option, which is attempting to remove the report from Google searches. If you are positive that the negative report is untrue, you can file a lawsuit against the author for defamation or another relevant legal claim. You can then get a court order that declares the report false and submit the information to Google for removal of the offending information. This doesn’t remove the report from the Ripoff Report website, but it does keep the report from showing up in Google search results.
Remember, too, that encouraging happy customers to post reviews on outside review sites or offer testimonials for your website is a great way to balance out negative reviews and show that your business makes customers happy—at least most of the time.
Do you need help dealing with a Ripoff Report or responding to other negative online reviews of your business? Are you ready to start working on a better review strategy? Talk to us today at 888-886-0939. We can help you clean up your online image, mitigate problems, respond to consumers effectively, and start building a positive online presence that can weather a few unhappy words.