Every day hundreds of new businesses appear on Trustpilot, and with them hundreds of new comments by people who want to express their dissatisfaction with the services or products they have received. Unfortunately, the portal is also being used by rival companies wishing to damage the reputation of their competitors or by so-called internet trolls. The veracity and validity of many of such “reviews” have been challenged many times by business owners. Unfortunately, in many cases without success.
"Freedom of speech" or "freedom of hate"?
A real problem is faced by law firms, which are often the target of reviews not so much by their own clients, but the opposite side of the legal process. Sometimes a party dissatisfied with the outcome of a dispute creates a Trustpilot account on purpose in order to leave an unfavourable review. This shouldn’t happen.
Such reviews are characterised by a lack of information about why the person is dissatisfied with the company and what is their connection with the company. They often take the form of insults and untrue statements. They are almost always anonymous or left under a pseudonym.
Unfortunately, Trustpilot does not usually delete such comments, even at the request of the company concerned. Theoretically, they do not break the portal's rules, but in reality, it is impossible to verify them. The portal apparently also is really concerned with “freedom of speech”.
£25,000 in damages for defamation
Unfortunately, such comments leave a permanent mark on the reputation of the company and theoretically there is not much that can be done about it. However, anyone who leaves such a comment must know that the statement (also written) is defamatory if it is false, damages the reputation of the person concerned and is made public.
This is why law firms sometimes decides to sue users if nothing else helps. And they do it successfully too. As in the case of one London-based law firm, which found that after a reviewer called them "scam solicitors" on Trustpilot, the number of enquiries it received about their services fell. As a result, it took legal action against the reviewer.
The case was heard by the court, which decided in favour of the law firm and ordered the reviewer to pay £25,000 in damages for defamation. The court was particularly struck by the seriousness of the fact that the lawyers had been accused of dishonesty.
Many people still believe that by leaving an anonymous review they are safe from legal repercussions. This case should serve as a warning to all those who make their offensive and untrue reviews public on Trustpilot and beyond.
Photo credit: vladwel / Shutterstock
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