When is a rant going beyond a review; avoid being libelous

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Making disparaging remarks about a product or the company producing it is considered trade libel.

However, there is a proper way to make a review of a business product or service. Filing official complaints with Better Business Bureau not only gives a place to vent frustrations, but also can help in resolving any problems.

The importance in making a complaint or a rant is making sure it is done correctly. It is best to contact the offending company directly, but if the matter cannot be resolved, contact Better Business Bureau at BBB.org.

Key points:

  • Never post insulting comments about a company or product online. Many social media profiles are public, and a quick Internet search for a person’s name may show several social media posts.
  • Avoid jokes that may be interpreted as libel.
  • Think carefully about the comment. Would it hurt a company’s reputation? Is it personally insulting to a certain person? If it may be damaging and cannot be verified completely, avoid posting it.

Overall, the main idea to remember is to test a comment or statement before posting it.

Formal complaints about a business or service should be directed to BBB. There was a time when you’d look up a Better Business Bureau business review and the rating was a simple ‘A’ through ‘F’ letter grade.

Several national surveys, including a Princeton Research study, state consumers want as much information as possible. Rant or rave, they take it all into consideration.

Customers are accustomed to see details and transparency on websites, and they want more detail in BBB reports, as well. Specifically, they want to read the complaint details from others, and the corresponding response from the businesses.

BBB wants to give as much information as possible so customers can make educated decisions and give businesses an opportunity to showcase their professional and prompt response.

As of July 10, 2012, complaints opened with BBB and the business’s response will be included in BBB Business Reviews.

BBB wants to help business and customer succeed when interacting with customers and responding to complaints. For tips on crafting a professional response to a complaint, call us. We are proud to have BBB Accredited Businesses that care for their customers and we look forward to sharing proof of your positive customer service in your BBB Business Review.

Not surprisingly, people who complain to BBB often show a breakdown in communication. Turning to BBB to open lines of communication and offer a path to resolution benefits the business and its customer.

You can also see BBB reviews on RSS.


1 Comment

Filed under News You Can Trust

One response to “When is a rant going beyond a review; avoid being libelous

  1. Chris Peto

    You state that starting July, 2012 complaints and responses will be available to view. Today is January 8, 2013 and I just visited the Wisconsin BBB’s website and can still only see the number of complaints made about a company. There doesn’t seem to be any way to read the complaints. What’s up?

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