6 tips to avoid a $750,000 defamation lawsuit

6 tips to avoid a $750,000 defamation lawsuit

Sued for Yelp reviewBy now, you’ve all likely heard of the $750,000 defamation lawsuit between a Virginia woman and a D.C. building contractor over alleged shoddy work, theft, defamation, and a bad Yelp review. If not, then you can get caught up here.

Thinking about how this could all so have easily been avoided, I wanted to share some tips on how you can help prevent this happening to you: whether you’re the customer of the contractor.

So, here are my 6 tips for avoiding a three quarter of a million dollar lawsuit:

[highlight color=”yellow”]Tip #1 – Always make sure you have a contract.[/highlight] This benefits both the buyer and seller, even if they know each other and have the best of intentions.

[highlight color=”yellow”]Tip #2 – Don’t wait to set things straight.[/highlight] The moment you feel that the other side is not living up to their end of the deal, stop and sit down with them. Do not assume anything will be worked out at the end.

[highlight color=”yellow”]Tip #3 – Take it offline.[/highlight] Always try to resolve issues and conflicts privately, before taking your complaint to a review site or social networking service.

[pullquote]Likewise, businesses should consider the lifetime cost of a detractor. How much business might you lose in the long run?[/pullquote][highlight color=”yellow”]Tip #4 – Inform, don’t threaten.[/highlight] If you are the customer, let the business know that you plan to write a review. Don’t use it to threaten them, but do let them have a chance to resolve the matter before it becomes a matter of record on the internet. Likewise, businesses should consider the lifetime cost of a detractor. How much business might you lose in the long run?

[highlight color=”yellow”]Tip #5 – Just the facts ma’am.[/highlight] When you post a review online, stick to the facts, do not embellish, and definitely do not make anything up. While you may feel like you are getting retribution, you could quickly step over into defamation.

[highlight color=”yellow”]Tip #6 – Suing takes all options off the table.[/highlight] Taking legal action should be the last resort for both parties. It makes it harder for either side to compromise, it shines a public spotlight on the situation, and can cost both sides a lot of sleepless nights, raise questions about their respective reputations, and be a huge distraction.

Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list?

ByAndy Beal

Andy Beal is The Original Online Reputation Expert™. A bestselling author of two critically-acclaimed reputation management books, a keynote speaker at dozens of events, and brand consultant experience with thousands of individuals and companies.

    2 Comments for “6 tips to avoid a $750,000 defamation lawsuit”
    1. My husband is a painting contractor. One thing that we are VERY careful about is scope creep.

      It’s really easy to add more work and upgrades verbally as the contractor is at your house every day. Every change to the original contract should be agreed to in writing with a cost associated. That cost may be just the hourly rate to get it done, or a bid to complete that whole piece of work. Verbal additions that are then billed at the end of the job cause A LOT of strife if the cost and scope of those additions are not agreed to as they’re being done. Dont get stuck with a bill you didnt expect 🙂

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