User generated content has revolutionized customer service in a variety of service industries mostly for the better. Nevertheless, hotel (and other) reviews in UGC sites like Tripadvisor.com frequently find operators at their wits end battling patently biased and inexplicably false reviews posted. Seems as if some operators within the industry and without are choosing to reach for the courts to counter what they believe to be inaccurate reviews.
Strax Rejuvenation and Aesthetics Institute in Lauderhill, FL, a cosmetic surgery and "rejuvenation" center is suing
a woman over an eleven-sentence review that was posted on
citysearch, and The Grand Palms Golf & Country Club in Pembroke
Pines is suing a woman for a similarly negative review.
The Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that "These suits are extremely common and starting to make their way through the courts,” said Lyrissa Lidsky, professor at the University of Florida. “Courts are
starting to develop balancing tests to guarantee it’s a legitimate
libel suit before they uncover the poster’s identity.” She was referring to anonymous posts. As for the libel suits, the Florida professor notes that "it's often hard to know if such libel lawsuits are legitimate or if companies just want to muzzle their critics".
As for Grand Palms, they filed suit in
"October against Jessica Rapillo, accusing the New Yorker of posting a
defamatory review that caused a noticeable drop in business. According
to the lawsuit, the review on a travel Web site called the Grand Palms
"the most disgusting, bug infested, rundown hotel."
The Sentinel article quotes Lidsky as warning that "anonymity on the Internet is not guaranteed.
Businesses can subpoena service providers to track down who wrote a
review, she said. "All of us are seeking information about the products
we buy and the people we come into contact with," Lidsky said. "A
search is very common before you embark on any business venture. A
company is foolhardy if they don't monitor what is said about them