Online reviews can be regarded as defamation of character whenever one or more parts of a review is factually inaccurate or is misleading. By not telling the whole story, the author of the review may create an impression which is far from being a reflection of the true position.
Aggrieved customers tend to put forward a one sided story about their experience with a vendor which means that readers of the review are not being told the whole truth. The point that I am making is that information which is given in part can be as libelous as an outright lie and therefore defamatory, which means that the victim of such review might have a right to sue in court for libel.
Often, the most intelligent readers of an online review are able to see through a particularly one sided review which is aimed to cause as much damage as possible to the vendor but other times, bad reviews, even if motivated by pure vengeance can come across as credible because of the style by which they are written.
How to get rid of a bad review?
The best way to get rid of a bad review which you feel contains an element of defamation is to send a letter to the moderators or the owners of the website where the defamatory material is listed, explaining that as only a short part of a long story was told through the review, the review gives an inaccurate reflection of the nature of the engagement between you and your customer and that as a result of the one sided information, members of the public are being mislead about your company’s activities and the true level of the customer support which you provide. You can state that the review as it stands is libelous and that the continuance publication of the negative review results in financial loss to your company.
If your company has already received positive reviews written by other customers, then use this fact to support your argument that the negative review is also intended to be libelous. You can have a go at writing this letter yourself but experience tells us that a letter sent by a specialist defamation solicitor could be extremely effective, perhaps because of the natural fear of many moderators and website owners to get involved in expensive litigation.
Should I respond the negative review using the forum?
Normally I would advise against responding on a forum to a defamatory review. The reasons for this are that this could very often aggravate the person who wrote the libelous comments even more and the last thing you want is to enter into a full discussion online, in front of the whole world. The other reason way I will not normally recommend that you respond to a review which is defamatory is that it would be extremely difficult for you to describe to full extent of the relationship which you had with the person who defamed your company within a few short lines in a forum.
Can I force the moderator or the website owner to remove the defamatory comments?
Yes, there are legal tools to force websites to remove unfair negative comments about your company and these could be proved very effective even if the website is based outside the UK.