Have you ever had a scathing review written about you or your business on ripoffreport.com? If so, you know just how frustrating the Ripoff Report removal process can be. In fact, most people think that once someone’s written a Ripoff Report about you it’s there for good. But that’s not entirely true.
Let’s walk through six effective options to remove Ripoff Report and save your company’s reputation.
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What is Ripoff Report?
Ripoffreport.com is a for-profit, privately-owned, and controversial consumer complaint website. Ed Magedson founded the site in 1998 with the intent to empower consumers, but it has several flaws. The site allows anyone to publish an anonymous review without any verification beyond a valid email address. Their business model is similar to that of Pissed Consumer, which ironically features complaints about ripoffreport.com.
Although they technically require honesty, there’s no fact-checking system in place to authenticate each review submitted to them. Their website guidelines state that you should make sure that everything you type is appropriate, accurate and complete. They attempt to justify this policy by claiming that Amazon and Facebook don’t verify the authenticity of all their users’ content.
As you can imagine, this lack of a vetting process has led to rampant abuse of the website. Ripoffreport.com is a lawless domain where fake reviews and defamatory information by competitors and disgruntled former employees abounds. It’s largely for these reasons that Ripoff Report holds an abysmal “F” rating on Better Business Bureau as well as a 1.4-star rating on ConsumerAffairs. Additionally, the EU banned the site to European consumers on 5/24/2018. As a result, Ripoffreport.com must now display the following banner at the top of the website:
None of this would be of much consequence if it weren’t for one thing: Google favors Ripoff Reports in its branded search results because the site hosts a massive amount of business reviews. If you’re keen on keeping your company afloat, the last thing you want to see is a nasty review at the top of your search engine results.
So how exactly does Ripoff Report get away with such shady practices?
The Legal Immunity of Ripoff Report
The Communications Decency Act is a boon for Ripoff Report when it comes to avoiding defamation lawsuits. The CDA shields websites such as this one from liability over third-party content posted on their domain. However, Ripoff Report can’t edit the content in any way.
They use this excuse to declare immunity from any defamatory statements made in the reviews they host. However, Ripoff Report also claims that they can refuse to take down complaints because they own the content. Ripoff Report refuses to remove reviews even if they know the complaint was falsified or the consumer requests removal.
They feel the removing Ripoff Reports would allow corporations to censor negative reviews by forcing unhappy customers to delete them. Although they claim to act on behalf of the little guy, the policy can be just as much of a headache for consumers.
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How to Remove Ripoff Report from Google (or fix them)
Below we’ll discuss the most common methods for dealing with ripoff reports, including removal, response, payment, lawsuits and burying a report using SEO reputation management tactics.
1. Make amends
If the complaint brought against your business holds water, it’s in your best interest to swallow your pride and do what’s right. Express your regret, apologize to the customer in question, and offer to right your wrong. It’s always best to correct these situations before they become an online reputation management issue.
Once you’ve made amends, you have the option of asking him or her directly to edit the report. Sadly, if the customer agrees, you’ll encounter another frustrating catch. Not even the author can edit or delete the review. Also, if the consumer adds a follow-up to the review, you risk improving the report’s Bing and Google search result rankings by keeping it active.
On the other hand, the customer could potentially paint you in a negative light by sharing your attempts to edit or delete their Ripoff Report listing.
2. Submit a rebuttal
This is another option that isn’t necessarily recommended. Responding may improve the complaint’s search ranking by keeping it relevant and providing fresh content for Google to index. But for the sake of exhausting all your options, you could respond to the report and dispute the author’s claims. Again, this could further anger the customer and fuel him to speak ill of you and your business.
There are a few more important factors to take into account if you choose to respond. First, even if you do rebut the claims, visitors will need to scroll all the way to the bottom to see what you have to say. And there’s no telling how many users will even make it that far before leaving the page. Also, your rebuttal will have no effect on the page’s meta description tag. This means searchers will still see the original scathing review of your business in the search results.
If you feel you must write a response, edit it thoroughly before posting. Like the original complaint, your comment cannot be removed or edited, so don’t say anything you’ll later regret. Be careful not to include any keywords that could cause Google to grant the page more authority. Instead, use vague terms like “the business” rather than your company’s name. Finally, when you visit the page, be sure to do so in incognito mode. This will minimize the amount of traction given to it by Google.
Again, this option is rarely recommended. In fact, it will probably only stand to benefit you if you own a large company that receives a high volume of complaints.
3. Join the Ripoff Report “Corporate Advocacy Program” (CAP)
This program allows you to petition ripoffreport.com to investigate the claims made against your business for a hefty fee. And once again, even if they find any evidence of online defamation or other wrongdoing, the complaint won’t actually be removed. Instead, the results of the investigation will be posted above the offending report. In addition, Ripoff Report may insinuate your wrongdoing by saying that you’ve worked to resolve the issue.
Ripoff Report also has a “VIP Arbitration Program” that gives you the opportunity to prove that the accusations are false. However, you’ll first have to hand over at least $2,000 to the website that posted defamatory information about you. This will still likely cost you less than joining the Corporate Advocacy Program. But, you’ll need to provide tangible evidence that the report contains false statements.
If the arbitrator sides with you, Ripoff Report may redact the falsehoods made in the negative report. However, the complaint itself will remain on the website under the same URL. Furthermore, you will have paid a large sum of money to the very website you’re fighting to mop up your online reputation. It goes without saying that this is another less-than-desirable course of action. Some businesses have accused the program of being a ripoff report scam similar to extortion.
4. File a Ripoff Report lawsuit
In general, lawsuits aren’t a good look for businesses of any size. But you can seek legal counsel and sue Ripoff Report in a last-ditch effort to save your company name. Sadly, Ripoff Report lawsuits tend to have low success rates because the company hides behind the Communications Decency Act and free speech rights. If you choose to sue, expect to spend an exorbitant amount of money (think: thousands of dollars). Further, the case likely won’t turn out in your favor due to the general legal immunity Ripoff Report enjoys.
5. Sue the original author
This option is precarious for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s nearly impossible to track down the original author. Even if do, you must be armed with solid evidence that proves the inaccuracy of the report and the credible threat it poses to your business. Therefore, if the complaint against you is valid, this won’t be a viable option for you.
If you manage to win your case, you could unintentionally create more negative online content through your litigation. It’s also unlikely that the author is able to pay you any amount of financial compensation. Even after all this trouble, Ripoff Report still won’t remove the review in question.
The best outcome you can hope for in this situation is that Google will remove your negative review from its search results. To do so, you’ll have to present a court order specifically proving the false and defamatory nature of the report to Google. Obtaining this court order is far easier said than done. But if you can afford to jump through the legal hoops to acquire one, Google should de-index your Ripoff Report.
Note that this won’t remove the complaint from the Ripoff Report website. It will just delete it from Google’s search results. This means individuals can still find the report if they search for your business on ripoffreport.com. Also, if you want your report removed from the search indexes of other search engines, you’ll have go through the whole process again.
The legal process is messy, unpredictable, time-consuming, and expensive. But if you’re willing to pay up the money and potentially weather some bad press, this could save your business from permanent damage.
6. Bury ripoffreport.com in search results
Your best option to get rid of a ripoff report may be to push it down in Google search results. This is also the most ethical and thorough way to reclaim your good name and put you on the road to maintaining a healthy online reputation for years to come.
Reputation management companies such as ourselves are dedicated to generating original content in various media (articles, videos, social media profiles, websites, etc.). We’re also SEO experts, so we can help you interlink and optimize your own content to clean up your search landscape and keep it that way. Taking this approach means outranking Ripoff Reports so they stay off the first page of your search engine results. This is a huge undertaking that can take months or years. While it may require constant upkeep, the results are well worth the time and effort.
Business owners will be involved in every step of the process, so you won’t have to worry about placing things solely in the hands of a third party like, for instance, a court of law. Once the Ripoff Report has been buried, you will also be able to enjoy the benefits that come with having a strong online presence teeming with unique, positive content.
The best way to avoid any run-ins with Ripoff Report is, of course, to not do anything that leaves your customers feeling ripped off in the first place. Conducting your business well and encouraging open communication with your customers so they know they can come to you before airing their grievances on an anonymous consumer complaint website are great methods of prevention. But accidents, mistakes, and misunderstandings happen, so it’s important to know your options should you ever find yourself facing with a dilemma such as this.
We hope you never find yourself looking down the barrel of a Ripoff Report, but if you do, contact us to begin the process of cleaning up and maintaining your online reputation.