• Winooski

    What? I can’t just sue Google? Pfft. Lame. [;-)]

    Kenton, thanks very much for a thorough and valuable description of ways to try to remedy would-be libelous posts in Ripoff Report or any of its ilk. I hope I never have a client in need of such remediation, but if I do, I feel better knowing what the options are.

  • http://www.coinso.com Yam Regev_PureSheer

    Great timing!

    i have a listing in Google Maps which got 3 citations from Ripoff Report. The only reason i got them is b/c my client’s company name is exactly the same as the Ripoff Report category for the whole industry (Auto Towing). What can i do? who can i talk to?

  • http://www.fionndownhill.com Fionn Downhill

    Kenton,
    Excellent and very accurate report. The only flaw in this though is that you have to be able to idnentify the original poster for them to admit the court that it was false and slanderous. For the most part this is not possible as the posters mask their IP’s and use throwaway e-mails. A false report about us was done by an offshore user impossible to find. What happens then?
    Best Wishes and Thanks

  • http://www.hutchersonlaw.com Kenton Hutcherson

    Fionn,

    You can issue a subpoena to get the information from the poster from the website. If that still does not allow you to find the person, I would file a lawsuit against the name the poster used to make the report and have them served by publication (publishing a legal notice in the newspaper). You have to get court permission to do this, generally, but it gets the job done.

    If they don’t show up to defend their statements, then you will probably get a default judgment as well as the order you need to present to Google. Of course, you should consult a lawyer about your specific situation.

    I hope this helps.

  • http://www.elixirinteractivecomplaints.com/ Renee_Rei

    Kenton,

    THANK YOU for this information. What sites like Ripoff Report and other similar complaint sites do is extortion. Once a false defamatory report is posted on these sites and ranks well in the search engines any action you take will cost you a lot of money. This includes doing nothing, as potential clients see the report about your business and decide not to do business with you or your company.

    There are plenty ligament of review sites that allow users to post good and bad reviews about companies. The majority of review sites take down reports FREE OF CHARGE when you can prove they are false and defamatory in nature. However the complaint sites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer only target negative reviews and refuse to take down false defamatory reports even when you can prove they are false. These sites then SEO each report for the targeted company or person to rank well in the search engines.

    If you do have a report filed against you, and you don’t have a big budget to file a lawsuit or hire a reputation management company, I strongly caution you against using one of the cheap companies that send you emails advertising removal of a report for only 99 dollars. A red flag to look for is if someone guarantees results as any method to deal with these reports are not guaranteed to give you results.

    You could leverage the digital assets you have such as a website and social media profiles. There is also a list of best practices when dealing with a report here – http://www.elixirinteractivecomplaints.com/online-reputation-management-best-practices/. I would also like to point out a previous article on this site to help you leverage your own website and domain stacking in Google to push a false report down in the results- http://searchengineland.com/how-to-grab-more-rankings-with-googles-branded-search-results-49733

  • http://www.visionefx.net Rick Vidallon

    GREAT ARTICLE – Very Timely!
    Today we have all these reputation companies, web developers, web writers, and SEO teams creating useless content and useless links to fight back against all these complaint websites. Even the complaint websites are getting in on this action and offering removal fees at up to $2400. There are even negative posts on competing complaint websites saying negative things about the other. I have found postings of people complaining that they paid to have the posting removed and once removed another appeared the next day. Sounds suspicious?

    My Suggestion
    Google employees and their engineers can, and should, come up with a professional way to handle these unprofessional complaint websites. Here are a few suggestions:

    a. Any complaint website that does not display the full name, email and phone of the person making the complaint should get pushed back in results. Or at least display an email that is tied to where they are a member.

    b. Any companies having an A+ rating with the BBB should algorithmically negate or receive a push back of any complaint websites targeting them.

    I think this makes sense and sounds doable. I truly hope this posting reaches a Google decision maker who wants to see search queries cleaned up, more relevant and increasingly useful.

    It is well worth mentioning that Yahoo and Bing do not rank these type of complaint websites as relevant in searches, not nearly as much as Google does. As a developer, I believe this speaks to inherent flaws in Google assigning so much value to back links.

  • http://www.visionefx.net Rick Vidallon

    FORGOT TO ASK KEN. May I report your article on my website article section to help get the word out? I will keep your bio and links intact of course. My article section is here: http://www.visionefx.net/articles/index.html

  • Matt McGee

    Hi Rick,

    We don’t allow our articles to be republished in full as you’re asking. You’re free to write your own article that cites/links to this one and even quotes a brief portion of it, however. But please do not reproduce the article. Thanks for asking.

    Matt

  • Maria Speth

    Ripoff Report’s VIP Arbitration program is much more cost effective than a defamation lawsuit, and a great option. While I give Mr. Hutcherson credit for at least mentioning the cost of obtaining a court order, I think he could have been more up front about how expensive litigation really is.

    Mr. Huthcherson mentions the “few hundred dollars” in filing fees but offers no estimate for the most expensive part of litigation, attorneys’ fees. The honest answer is that “secret option #6” is likely to cost several thousand dollars at a minimum. If the author contests the action, the lawsuit could easily cost tens of thousands more dollars in attorneys’ fees and costs.

    Ripoff Report’s VIP Arbitration costs $2,000.00 and you can do it yourself. Even if you hire an attorney to help you write the application, the arbitration is designed to cost far less than a lawsuit.

    Why would anyone risk tens of thousands on a defamation lawsuit for the hope of delisting the posting from Google (not removing it) when they can spend $2,000 to have false statements of fact removed entirely from Ripoff Report? Under Ripoff Report’s arbitration program, as long as you prove to an independent arbitrator that the posting contains false statements of fact, those statements will be removed entirely from Ripoff Report, not just delisted from the Google search engine.

    And no, the money is not going to the person responsible for the posting. The money is mostly going to an independent arbitrator who does not work for Ripoff Report, and partially to Ripoff Report for administration of the program.

    Ripoff Report Arbitration is less expensive and more effective than Mr. Hutcherson’s recommendation.

  • http://DarkMatters DarkMatters

    @Maria Speth

    It’s pretty hard to believe that Ripoff report is not profiting from their arbitration, considering that I’ve been contacted several times via email and phone after posting rebuttals to false allegations on the website. The callers are clearly salespeople, and if the service didn’t profit the website they would not pay salespeople to push them. Additionally, a quick Google search reveals that you are a lawyer for Ripoff report, which lends context to your comment.

  • fionn

    Maria Speth is the attorney for the Rip Off Report. I am concerned about the accuracy of the information she has posted here. My understanding is that Ms Speth’s company are the same attorneys who went to court to fight for the Rip Off Reports right to keep content up even when court ordered to remove it. The innocent victims had spent thousands of dollars proving the information was false. http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2009/12/ripoff_report_n.htm. So are you now saying that they could have paid ROR $2K instead and saved all that money?
    She has defended the indefensible when innocent people have been hurt and slandered on this site. Now she is saying that for $2K you can take down a rip off report. Ms Speth when did Ed Magedson change his policy a policy he went to court to defend many times with you.

    CDA 230 was not set up for sites like Rip Off Report to hide behind yet the site with the help of Ms Speths legal time has twisted to be used in a truly horrible way. I dont care what the law says or what Ms Speth has managed to convinve judges it means there is right and wrong. Other reputable complaints sites will take down false reports when proved false by the victims. My3Cents and Complaints board are two of those. ROR has done the most awful harm to individuals and I am one of them. Now they change their policy and for $2K the reports can be removed. Ms Speth’s company are listed on Rip Off Report under their attorneys for hire section http://www.ripoffreportlegaldirectory.com/. On his Web site Ed Magdeson claims to have spent $4 million dollars in legal fees who collected those? He also states on his website that.

    “The only consumer complaint website you can trust is Ripoff Report — we don’t remove reports for money (never have, never will), and we don’t steal content from other sources”.
    Ms Speth can you clarify as the legal representative of the Rip Off Report that you are saying that Rip Off Reports policy has changed and for fee of $2K which has to be paid to an arbitrator that the report will be completely removed.

  • fionn

    Just to add to that Ms Speth please clarify that the report will be removed once “proved False” by the arbitrator.

  • DanSEO

    DarkMatters, I don’t think the concern is their program’s fee. I’d be more concerned about the fine print in the contractual relationship. Here is a link to real documents related to at least one of these programs. http://bit.ly/dYXaOc