Reputation Justice

got clients?

Then you've got gripes. Online complaints about your business, damaging your profits while you sleep.


Target: You.

Today's online whining from competitors, staff or even clients--costs you sales. How can you stop it before it stops you?


Draw the line.

Yeah, our moms told us to ignore the bully too. He didn't go away then either. Fight back.

Why online complaints are different

You've worked hard to make your business what it is today. When problems come up, and they do, you do your best to address them. You've learned the hard way that the customer isn't always right, and built a reputation for going the extra mile anyway. But one disgruntled ex-employee, a competitor, or even a stranger in India can claim to be a dissatisfied customer on the internet--hitting your bottom line. It's not fair, but it's the way things are.

Most any genuine problem or misunderstanding can be dealt with at brush fire level, as long as the flames haven't been blown out of control into social networking. Your industry forums, Facebook and your own employees 'helping out' can turn a small dustup into a crisis for your business.

If you've already run a search on your company and the word 'complaint', you've found that anyone can say anything online and no one is accountable. You may wonder, why can't I call my lawyer and have this taken care of? The simple answer: Because Congress made an exception for the internet.

Yes, back in 1996, your federal legislature carved out message board owners as different from any other publisher of anything. So if your former employee, Fickle Fred, is quoted in your local paper saying your restaurant serves fried rats--the paper is liable for damaging your business, unless you really have 'rat' on the menu. The paper showed 'reckless disregard' for the truth.

But if Fred posts the same thing at without leaving his name, you can't sue the site's owners. Courts have consistently reinforced the 'right' to run a web site profiting from lies, exaggerations and misstatements about your business. Until that loophole in the law is closed, your attorney isn't going to be much help against the complaint site.

Most of the time the damaging gripes about your business are either unsigned nastygrams or complete falsehoods. That's another aspect of the problem--you can't sue who you can't serve. So lawyers don't have a lot to contribute to the solution. You need a specialist, someone who focuses on keeping your online reputation free of problems. You need a Reputation Justice project manager.