You can’t spin anything positive out of finding out your business has been added to RipoffReport.com. Seeing this is one of those moments where you either want to put your fist through your computer screen or scream at the top of your lungs (like a man, of course). With many of these ‘consumer advocacy’ sites out there, it sometimes becomes a breeding ground for disgruntled people, either customers or past employees, to post extremely negative information about your business. Whether it is true or not, it is going to rank well on Google. So, where do you go from here?
First of all, you need to understand that Google is not out to get you, so don’t direct your pent-up anger at them. Many people complain as to why Ripoff Report ranks so well, but it’s really pretty simple:
- The site came online in 1999, and it is no secret that Google loves established sites.
- It is one of the top 1,300 trafficked sites in the United States.
- The site is constantly updated with new content, and now has just about 750,000 reviews on their site.
- The site has 3,400 unique domains linking to it.
With a recipe like that, there is no wonder it ranks so well, so let’s get past that portion of the situation to the more important piece. Where do you go from here?
There are plenty of options, and honestly none of them are easy or enjoyable.
Assess the Complaint and Determine the Legitimacy
It is important to attempt to put emotion aside at this time and truly grasp what the negative review states. Is it true? Is some of it true? If you answered yes to either of those, it makes the most sense to first go back to the drawing board and correct the items about your business that has upset this author. Not only will it help you try to rectify the situation, but it will also help prevent similar issues from popping up in the future.
Attempt to Reach Out to the Person Who Filed the Report
It is imparative to be as cordial as humanly possible when contacting the author of the review. The goal is to understand exactly why they were so upset they were compelled to fill out a report, and once you understand that, attempt to make things right. Whether this is a refund, discount, a sincere apology, or something else, at the end of the day, attempt to make the consumer happy if at all possible. If there was any legitimacy to their claim, express what you have done to correct the issue moving forward.
We live in a forgiving society, and most people don’t want to live their lives angry. If you are able to come to an agreement with the consumer, they can update their claim on Ripoff Report. It is very important to understand that the original claim will NOT be deleted just by the consumer updating it, so it will still show up in the SERPs, but if someone searches and clicks through to the result, they will see the update. It’s still not ideal by any means, but it’s a decent solution.
Fill Out a Free Rebuttal at Ripoff Report
Please understand that your rebuttal will be printed under the initial report and may not be seen by too many consumers, but let’s face it, it’s better than nothing. Also, because you are creating new content that could rank for your company name, it wouldn’t be in your best interest to continually name your business in the writing, but rather use vague descriptors. Again, emotion should be removed from the instance; instead, try to only list facts. If you are able to reach out to the customer and they update their review, this would be an excellent spot to display to the users that you have worked out the disagreement with the consumer, and everything is resolved.
Here is where it gets sticky…
Join the Ripoff Report VIP Arbitration Program
I’ll save my commentary on the ethics of this program and will instead simply say it works. As of now, the price for this service is $2,250. You will be sent to an independent arbitrator and asked to provide evidence that the claim was indeed false. This would include receipts, emails, documentation, etc. Essentially, you would be going to the ‘court’, not of the United States, but rather the court of Ripoff Report. The upside is that if the independent arbitrator finds in your favor, all of the false claims will be redacted from the report. The downside is you have to spend $2,250 and jump through hoops to clear your name from a false claim.
Join the Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program
The name of that program is a real mouthful, and really should only be looked at by large companies who have had quite a few reports filed against them. In a nutshell, for an undisclosed fee, Ripoff Report serves as a liason between your company and the customer who filled out the report. They attempt to be a middle man and see if the situation can be cleared up. Ripoff Report then works with you on an ongoing basis to prevent future erroneous reports. It also helps to have in big letters on Ripoff Report that you are part of the Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program. When a consumer sees that, they may think twice about filling out a report.
File a Lawsuit Against the Author for Defamation
Here’s another option that isn’t going to be cheap in the least. You would be forced to attain a lawyer to file the formal complaint, then submit it to the court. At that time, the defendant would normally have 45 days to respond to the report. Let’s be realistic, most people are far more brave online than they are in the real world, so the odds would be stacked in your favor that they wouldn’t even respond to the complaint. If that’s that case, you would be granted a summary judgment. If they do respond, plan on watching your legal bills skyrocket.
Once you do receive a judgment, you can submit it to both Ripoff Report and Google. In the last two years, Google has done a much more proactive job of removing pages from the index if a judgment has been rendered against the content. As far as Ripoff Report, there have been documented cases of both scenarios (either removing the report or still asking you to doing the VIP Arbitration Program).
Lastly, having to deal with the Ripoff Report is not something that any company wants to deal with. In a future post we will cover other tactics to minimize the visibility of a Ripoff Report in the search results if dealing with Ripoff Report directly is unsuccessful.