Negative Yelp Reviews, Beware you could get sued!

You ate at a fancy restaurant but were not satisfied with the service. So you decided to write a negative customer review on Yelp, and fib just a little to make the review seem more believable. Harmless, right? Wrong! You could get sued for parts of the review. And this is exactly what happened to Jane Perez when she wrote a negative review about the construction company Dietz Development LLC.

NPR reported on December 9 that Jane Perez wrote a negative Yelp review about the construction company, stating that her home was damaged and jewelry was missing after the company was done working on her home. Owner and housing contractor Christopher Dietz considered her reviews defamatory and sued. He won. The court told Perez to remove parts of her review.

While this case is rare, it is not unheard of. Still, because online review websites are fairly new, there are not many laws governing issues related to them. Although one single review might not cause major damage, several reviews of the same nature have been shown to make an impact.

NPR reported that a single-star increase on Yelp equals a 5 to 9 percent boost in sales, according to 2011 Harvard study. This could be why so many companies are eager use online reputation management services.

So if writing a negative review on Yelp could lead to being sued, why would anyone risk it? According to NPR, Perez was sued for parts of her review that Dietz “considered defamatory, libelous and untrue.” This means that, in theory, an accurate negative review should be safe.

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