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My Texas Startup Got Yelped!

#lynchlawfirm #lynchlaw #lynchpintoyoursucess #workplaceinvestigations#512law #austinattorney Jan. 8, 2015

Yelp And Your Startup Reputation

Yelp is stirring up controversies, and even law firms have difficulty with negative Yelp Reviews. It is challenging for companies to combat a bad Yelp review. A brief review of the law will help you understand when using the law to fight a bad review may be the best option. More often, recognizing that the criticism elicited emotions, choosing to act with clever integrity, and behaving with old-fashioned customer service are better and cheaper ways to combat negative yelp reviews.

  • Libel or Free Speech

Libel is a false and defamatory statement of fact about a specific group or person. There are entire books and courses on the specifics and exceptions to this rule. Determining a point or opinion is the issue that gets the most attention from Yelp reviews. Reporting that “I hated the food” is obviously an opinion, and even opinions stated as fact, such as “The food is awful,” are typically regarded as opinions. Having an opinion is not illegal, so says the First Amendment.

  • Anti-Slapp

Texas, and 29 other states, have Anti-Slapp (or laws prohibiting a strategic lawsuit against public participation in free speech) laws. The Texas statutes are typical and allow a judge to dismiss a frivolous case, and the petitioner need only prove that the suit was filed in response to someone exercising their free speech. The website does an excellent job explaining this.

  • Damages

Remember you need to prove damages to file a law suite. In my experience, it is nearly impossible to establish a causal connection between a bad Yelp review and a profit decline. Often, the evidence as strongly leads to evidence showing that declining customer service led to the bad Yelp review.

  • Yelp Help

I know this is an unpopular statement, but Yelp is helpful sometimes. They do seem to actually review and regularly remove posts that are brought to their attention. I recommend making Yelp’s job easy for them. Review Yelp’s Terms of Use and then explain, in a non-emotional manner, why a particular review violated a policy. Further, professionally turning the tables is often an exceptional way to show your integrity to the world. Use caution about acting or sounding passive-aggressive, and do not attempt to make a counterpoint about each statement in the negative review. Use Yelp’s response functionality to respond honestly to the misunderstanding and then live up to it. Other customers understand that bad things happen but want to know that the company is reputable enough to remediate the situation. The reviewer may even remove the review once they feel their concerns have been addressed.

The following websites are also beneficial in determining if your bad Yelp review is worth pursuing legal action:

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