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Business Owners Fight Back Against Negative Reviews

Blog Team • February 22, 2016

Some Business Owners are Stirring Controversy by Responding to Negative Reviews

Some Business Owners Are Stirring Controversy by Responding to Negative Reviews

The growth of online consumer review sites has had a tremendous impact on businesses both big and small. Studies have shown that modern consumers rely heavily on Internet reviews to determine what businesses they choose for products and services. A single negative online review can cause devastation to a business, which is why many business owners are now taking action to defend their businesses on the Internet and make sure every negative review is addressed.

As online consumer review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and more continue to influence those curious about trying a particular business, the paradigm of online reviews has shifted to a two-way communication approach that includes businesses owners and representatives actively responding to the reviews, both as a formality as well as a means of defense. In these types of situations, the business owner or assigned representative often chooses one of two paths: some put on the customer service persona, apologize for any isolated incidents, thank their customer and try to make amends if necessary; but more and more have been choosing the alternative, and going for the retaliatory shut down- a counterattack against the reviewer that involves an attempt to discredit his or her opinion. And the publicity that follows whenever a business does this - for better or worse, has put some of these businesses in the spotlight.

Take this case for example. In December of 2015, a Michelin star-winning chef in Birmingham, England received a rude awakening when he found out a customer lambasted his independent fine-dining restaurant in a TripAdvisor review. Purnell’s, the namesake establishment of chef-owner Glynn Purnell, received a one-star review that attacked portions, pricing and menu; and ultimately went as far as to suggest the head chef “should watch MasterChef: The Professionals for a few lessons.” In this scenario, Purnell took the alternate route to handling this review, signed onto TripAdvisor and articulated a direct response:

“Everyone has their own right and opinion and we fully understand that we may not be to everybody’s taste. When this is the case, feedback is welcomed and used constructively. When feedback is false and littered with lies it is not welcomed and as an independent restaurant we will fiercely dispute any attempts to blacken our name.”

But there were still more scores to settle. "Perhaps this reviewer would have more satisfaction from watching Man Vs. Food," Purnell added.

In Purnell’s case, time will only tell if the response will help or hurt his business, but there is one noteworthy indicator leaning in his favor, a poll in the Birmingham Mail that shows over 90% of the readers side with the chef on the issue.

Then, there is the other side to consider; and that is not everyone is an award-winning chef and TV personality. Nonetheless, these types of instances are occurring more often, and the consequences of responding are also starting to show.

In one case of a costly response, a general contractor in Virginia had a Yelp reviewer claim the contractor stole jewelry from her. The contractor decided to sue the woman for $750,000 with charges of defamation, but not before getting on Yelp to write out a response. It was later revealed that the contractor’s response to the review was equally as defamatory to the woman, thus nullifying the contractor’s case. Yelp’s Terms of Service states that “You may expose yourself to liability if, for example, your content contains material that is false, intentionally misleading, or defamatory,” which means the contractor’s case could have held up, but we will never know because of what was said in response to the review.

For some businesses, the only true testament to their abilities are the products or results they produce. Having loyal customers is one thing, but you cannot rely on the same group of people over and over again to write your reviews, defend your name and maintain your online image. You need to expand and reel in new customers with an online reputation management campaign that keeps your brand in a positive light. specializes in positive SEO campaigns that show off the best side of your brand and help attract new business and organic web search results.

Try today to see how our SEO, social media and customer service representatives work around the clock to defend your brand on the Internet.