Finding out your business has been added to RipoffReport.com is an unnerving moment. Many of these ‘consumer advocacy’ sites become a breeding ground for disgruntled people ( customers, past employees, etc.) to post potentially defamatory content about your business. Whether it is true or not, it could rank well on Google.
Ripoff Report was launched in 1999 and now appears prominently in the search results for a number of queries, particularly those for businesses. The reasons why Ripoff Report ranks so well are pretty simple. As of 2013:
- 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.
Assess the Complaint and Determine the Legitimacy
First, try to 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 have upset this person. 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 imperative to be cordial when contacting the author of the review. The goal is to understand exactly why 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.
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 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. 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
As of now, the price for this service $2,000. 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. ReputationManagement.com never recommends that you pay RipoffReport.
Join the Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program
This program 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 liaison 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
Filing a lawsuit is technically an option, but we don’t recommend it because it is costly and can cause more harm to . 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. However, 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, your legal bills will likely 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. With Ripoff Report specifically, there have been documented cases of both scenarios (either removing the report or still asking you to doing the VIP Arbitration Program).