Get a Reviewer to remove their libel review from TripAdvisor part 1

Six years ago a very good friend of mine complained about a negative review that was posted about their hotel on TripAdvisor.  The review claimed among a LOT of tripe that  trains came past the hotel every 20 minutes. Yes, this is a perfect reason to be unhappy about your accommodation, especially if it came as a surprise. However in this case the surprise came to the hotel owners and myself… the nearest railway track was more than 35 miles away. ..

Yes, I know what you are thinking.. Ooohh just contact TripAdvisor, tell them that there are no trains / railway within 35 miles of the hotel, thus the reviewer  was purposely defaming the hotel with lies, and TripAdvisor would just remove the obvious fake / defaming review.. haha.. sure!!

Anyway, of course TripAdvisor did not  remove the review, because just like the Pedophile Review and the Jane the Slut review, it met all the guidelines and would not be removed, trains or no trains!!… This is the moment I thought.. Shit, TripAdvisor doesn’t care shit about establishment owners, and they ( TripAdvisor) can do some serious damage to establishments and reputations.

So, seeing as TripAdvisor had their head stuck up their own ass as usual, we went to plan “B”.. approach the reviewer. Luckily my friends had the details of the reviewer, from the bookings form… Within 5 days the review was removed by the reviewer, and all it took was a “Cease and Desist”  form threatening legal action and damages if the review was not removed…

Back in June we contacted 5 establishment owners that had previously contacted us, and asked if we could try and get obvious fake reviews removed by contacting the reviewer. We sent a total of  7 “Cease and Desist”  forms threatening legal action and damages if the review was not removed… ALL 7 reviews were removed within 14 days of sending the legal form… that was a cool 100% success rate.

This article explains the steps that need to be taken to take legal actions against (a) person(s) that have posted a defaming review about you, your family or establishment and hopefully get the review removed without having to contact the arrogant brain dead droids at TripAdvisor.

This article is only for establishment owners that KNOW the contact details of the reviewer, however in the coming days we will be posting an article for establishment owners that do not know the details of the reviewer, such as restaurants and tours. 

EVERY establishment will at one point get a negative review, it is nothing to be ashamed of, you just cannot please everyone. A negative review is never nice, but it’s something you just have to live with.

A negative review is NOT a libel review. DO NOT use this method to try and remove a negative review, ‘cos it might just turn around and bite you in the ass, and cost YOU a lot of money…  

Defamation Law Made Simple – USA

Cease and Desist TripAdvisor

“Defamation” is a catch-all term for any statement that hurts someone’s reputation. Written defamation is called “libel,” and spoken defamation is called “slander.” Defamation is not a crime, but it is a “tort” (a civil wrong, rather than a criminal wrong). A person who has been defamed can sue the person who did the defaming.

Defamation law tries to balance competing interests: On the one hand, people should not ruin others’ lives by telling lies about them; but on the other hand, people should be able to speak freely without fear of litigation over every insult, disagreement, or mistake. Political and social disagreement is important in a free society, and we obviously don’t all share the same opinions or beliefs. For instance, political opponents often reach opposite conclusions from the same facts, and editorial cartoonists often exaggerate facts to make their point.

What the victim must prove to establish that defamation occurred

The law of defamation varies from state to state, but there are some generally accepted rules. If you believe you are have been “defamed,” to prove it you usually have to show there’s been a statement that is all of the following:
• published
• false
• injurious
• unprivileged

Let’s look at each of these elements in detail.

1. First, the “statement” can be spoken, written, pictured, or even gestured. Because written statements last longer than spoken statements, most courts, juries, and insurance companies consider libel more harmful than slander.

2. “Published” means that a third party heard or saw the statement — that is, someone other than the person who made the statement or the person the statement was about. “Published” doesn’t necessarily mean that the statement was printed in a book — it just needs to have been made public through television, radio, speeches, gossip, or even loud conversation. Of course, it could also have been written online, in magazines, books, newspapers, leaflets, or on picket signs.

3. A defamatory statement must be false — otherwise it’s not considered damaging. Even terribly mean or disparaging things are not defamatory if the shoe fits. Most opinions don’t count as defamation because they can’t be proved to be objectively false. For instance, when a reviewer says, “That was the worst book I’ve read all year,” she’s not defaming the author, because the statement can’t be proven to be false.

4. The statement must be “injurious.” Since the whole point of defamation law is to take care of injuries to reputation, those suing for defamation must show how their reputations were hurt by the false statement — for example, the person lost work; was shunned by neighbors, friends, or family members; or was harassed by the press. Someone who already had a terrible reputation most likely won’t collect much in a defamation suit.

5. Finally, to qualify as a defamatory statement, the offending statement must be “unprivileged.” Under some circumstances, you cannot sue someone for defamation even if they make a statement that can be proved false. For example, witnesses who testify falsely in court or at a deposition can’t be sued. (Although witnesses who testify to something they know is false could theoretically be prosecuted for perjury.) Lawmakers have decided that in these and other situations, which are considered “privileged,” free speech is so important that the speakers should not be constrained by worries that they will be sued for defamation. Lawmakers themsleves also enjoy this privilege: They aren’t liable for statements made in the legislative chamber or in official materials, even if they say or write things that would otherwise be defamatory.

Libel Law made easy – United Kingdom and Ireland

Libel Laws UK

Libel law is the area of defamation law which covers written and published comments. UK Libel law seeks to strike a balance between protecting free speech and protecting individuals from unjustified or malicious attacks on their character.

Libel law allows civil actions to be brought in the High Court against statements published about a named or otherwise identifiable individual which causes a loss in their profession or would make a reasonable person think less of them. The UK is known for having particularly stringent libel laws; the High Court has regularly ordered large payouts to the victims of libel and defamation of character.

Libel Law: Defences

While the UK’s libel law does seek to punish those who make unfounded, damaging comments about others it takes into account the importance of free speech and provides several defences to those who made the comment:

Justification

A claim under libel law will fail if the defendant can prove that the comment made is true. The substance of comment must be proved, not just that it was said by another person. Using this defence can be dangerous, as defendants have to provide evidence of the claim’s truth, which will be considered to aggravate the libel and increase the settlement if the defence fails.

Fair Comment

UK libel law allows defendants the chance to prove that their comment was fair and that the point of view expressed could have been held by a reasonable person. This defence can be slightly vague and therefore difficult to use, its aim is to stop people being sued simply for saying that they don’t like something or someone.

Absolute Privilege

This is designed to protect official proceedings such parliamentary debates, court cases and the like. Comments made in a situation where absolute privilege exists will be totally immune from actions being brought under libel law.

Qualified Privilege

This defence covers comments made in the public interest or where there is mutual interest between two parties. The High Court recently allowed the mass media to use this defence, in the case of Reynolds vs Times Newspapers Ltd it was upheld that newspapers could have qualified privilege as long as their comments came under the definition of ‘responsible journalism’ – any comments using this defence must be ‘fair and accurate’ and the writer may not ‘garnish or embellish’ them.

Innocent Dissemination

Generally libel law sees everyone involved in the publication of a defamatory comment as liable, whether they actually wrote the malicious comments online or the website owner who posted the malicious comment. Innocent dissemination applies where the process of distribution is so mechanical that the people furthering the comment and aggravating the libel could not reasonably have known about it. As well as shops and distribution companies this defence has recently been used by web hosts and ISP’s blamed for hosting defamatory material.

Libel law in the UK is a complex set of statutes and precedents; it is constantly evolving to keep up with modern sensibilities and new communications technology. If you have an issue with libel law or any other aspect of defamation it would be wise to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.

 

How to get  a libel review removed from TripAdvisor

this is purely based on how WE managed to get reviews removed without using a real lawyer.   

Step 1 : Send a letter to the reviewer pointing out the details that are false, and request you either get written evidence that what was written in the review was true, or remove the review from TripAdvisor within 5 days of receiving the “Registered” mail. If the reviewer does not comply to this request you must make it clear that you will take legal actions, and sue for damages done to your business and your reputation.  

chances are, at this stage you will NOT hear back from the reviewer, and the review will not be removed.. time to turn up the heat..

Step 2 : Download our FREE “Defamatory Cease & Desist” letter . [remember that this letter has to give the reviewer the impression it is coming from a lawyer..]

Make the personal adjustments to the C&D letter so it applies more to your situation. Make it clear that you will be seeking maximum compensation for damages caused by the review. Sign the letter and send it registered.

in our case ALL the reviews were removed from TripAdvisor at this point.. we do have a bit of extra’s you can add to the letter, to make it a lot more convincing, however we cannot say what it is in this article, however, if you plan to use this method, feel free to contact us, and we will gladly advise / help. 

Step 3 :  To be honest, we never needed this step, however if after  “Step 2” the review has still not been removed, then it might be time to get a real lawyer and really sue for Defamation. Or you can try and get TripAdvisor to remove it,  making it clear that if they do not remove it, you will sue them for max. damages that have occurred due to them posting an unvalidated review from an unvalidated user…  This is a separate issue that we will be writing about soon..  

 

 DOWNLOAD OUR FREE CEASE AND DESIST TEMPLATE LETTER

Defamation Cease and Desistdoc format

Defamation Cease and DesistPDF format

 

Is it worth my time to try and take legal action against someone that posted libel and defaming comments about me on TripAdvisor?.. Well, you decide but first read these articles :

  • A Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a “crook,” a “con artist” and a “fraud.”… read the story
  • A Texas couple who filed a defamation lawsuit over three years ago against anonymous posters on the Internet forum Topix.com won a $13.8 million judgment from a jury … read the story

 

 In the coming days we will be posting an article for establishment owners that do not know the details of the reviewer, such as restaurants and tours, explaining how they can take legal action and attempt to get (a) review(s) removed by taking legal action. 

 

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We are a small group of 9 people that are tired of the way TripAdvisor chooses to conduct their business, mainly because of the total lack of consideration towards “owners” in the hospitality world. We are based in the USA, Europe and New Zealand.
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Comments

  1. Hi there did you ever post part 2 of this very useful article..? I can’t seem to find it.

    Thanks

    Bill

  2. Thank you so much for the fantastic advice above. I’m experiencing the same problems with Tripadvisor myself. We have only been open almost 2 years, won numerous awards including Best Indian Restaurant and Top 5 in the UK. With such a competitive environment, our competitors have it in for us after so much success.

    Fake Tripadvisor reviews are killing the business and I need to a take action. Tripadvisor don’t seem to care.

    We get so many fabulous comments, your the best Indian Restaurant around ect. Then it upsets me to look on Tripadvisor and find all the false reviews. We have recieved over 300 reviews in such a short space of time, no other restaurant near us has no where near the same amount.

    I would be very interested in the second part you mention, would you be able to email it to me please.

    If you have any other advice of how to best approach this, It would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you for your time.

  3. What do you do when a review is posted under a fake name lubell37 claiming to be from a Canadian when my records prove I have never had a guest who is a Canadian resident.

    I can prove that the allegations are false i.e they claim to have stayed in September and were ‘sweltering’ at night – September is still winter here, they refer to ‘threadbare carpet’ I had all the old carpets removed several years ago and replaced them with quality vinyl …etc….etc… but what use is that when I have no one to present the facts to.

    I know the source and motivation behind this ‘review’ but how do I prove that and require the group behind it, who live in Melbourne Australia, to remove it.

    TA say it meets guidelines.

  4. Follow up – I sent in a ‘Take down notice’.

    The ‘review’ was removed, however, as TA don’t acknowledge receipts of Take down notices or offer any reasons why a review is removed I don’t know if the notice was the reason.

    Anyway today ‘LuBell 37’ reposted her review, slightly altered, I am planning to send in another Take down notice.

    I was expecting them to attack me again, so even if another Take down notice results in this review also being removed I am sure this mob will continue to do this, they are determined lot ruin my business and. TA gives them a free and easy way of damaging me.

    Not sure if this site is still active …. Any suggestions welcome.

  5. Very informative in the process of been blackmailed ..checking my opinions

  6. In my case ther reviewer posted the review to the wrong restaurant, mine. I have messaged the reviewer and Tripadvisor many times with the details of how it should be on my listing, but a different one. I get no responses from anyone. The reviewer made an honest mistake. How do you serve Tripadvisor notice of potential legal action?

  7. We’ve have just had our 1st experience of a fake review from a person who lives close by. After 4 years of working really hard to get up the rankings on TA we have pretty much been number 2 for the past 2 years in Bruges. However, after a silly dispute with a local parking their car against ours so we could not get out, we had to call the police to ask them to move it. The day after we get a TA review giving us 1 out of 5. Bearing in mind we have 540 reviews (528 5 out of 5, 11 4 out of 5 and 1 3 out f 5) this has come as a real shock.
    We do not know the name of the person who posted the review, other than they posted is as Emilia Vazquez from Bruges. We have tried a simple google search but to no avail.
    We have gone through the very painful process of trying to speak to TA, but they simply do not care. Their Editor Team state that the review complies with their guidelines. Even though the person has never stayed with us or been in our house!
    Has anyone got any suggestions of what we can do next, as the review in my opinion is completely slanderous and will have an impact on our business, as tomorrow morning i fully expect to have dropped a long way from our current number 2 ranking.
    All we have is a car number plate and the TA review name…

    Below is their review of us:

    “Worst place that I’ve ever visited. They are overpriced, and the most unfriendly owners that beautiful Bruges has to offer.

    The owners are rude, offer no help and only care about the amount of cash you are going to bring.

    The food was terrible, you can better go to Mcdonalds, at least there it taste somewhat good.

    It looks all good on photo but in reality, …

    Don’t make the same mistake we did and avoid this place at all cost!”

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