Posting a review on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, or one of the other multitudes of consumer review sites has become commonplace nowadays. Everything from restaurants to TV shows are discussed, assessed and more often than not, criticized.
Because these sites have a profound impact on businesses, a growing trend, both in Canada and the United States, is companies taking notice of these reviews, and in some cases, hitting back with threats of litigation. If that happens, on-line reviewers best be sure they have preserved evidence to back up their critiques.
Articles on CBC’s website this past Monday report that a growing number of companies are going after people who post negative reviews online. In one case, a former tenant of an apartment complex complained online about the way she was treated when she moved out. Soon afterwards, she received a letter from the landlord’s lawyer demanding that the posts be removed.
Some companies in the U.S. are being proactive by including “non-disparagement” clauses in contracts to prevent customers from writing anything negative about the company. Posting on-line in the faces of such a clause can open you up to litigation.
Whichever side of the fence you’re on in such cases, one thing is very clear – preserving online content and other evidence for possible litigation cannot be ignored.