Ripoff Report is a popular website that claims to give consumers recourse if they are scammed on the internet.
But what if the tables turn, and your legitimate business is listed?
What course of action can you take?
How Ripoff Report Listings Can Impact Your Business
According to reputation management best practices, you should claim all the online listings you can, including local directories, social media, and authoritative sites such as government and educational domains.
Unfortunately, getting listed on RipoffReport.com is not the kind of reputation you want. 93% of consumers use online reviews to help them determine which products and services to buy. So having just one negative review online can harm your business by turning good customers away.
The reviews on Ripoff Report are always negative, unlike Yelp, where you will find a mix of good and bad reviews.
The site has even been accused of promoting negative content with the text on its homepage that states, “Complaints Reviews Scams Lawsuits Frauds Reported, file your review.”
Despite hailing itself as a bastion of truth for average folks against businesses that would do them wrong, the site admits it lacks “the internal resources” to ensure all posts on the site are truthful.
This means someone could write a false negative report about your business and have it published for millions to see.
According to data from Ripoff Report, the site receives between 125,000 and 250,000 visits a day, which is more than a million visitors per week.
Google certainly helps with visibility. Reports often appear in the search results for the people (or companies) mentioned in the reports.
What is Ripoff Report’s Purpose?
Ripoff Report is a privately held, for-profit company founded by Ed Magedson in December 1998. The site was originally created to promote Magedson’s self-published book “Rip-Off Revenge” and provide consumers with a forum to vent their frustrations about businesses.
Since then, the site has gathered an infamous reputation as the one place businesses never want to be listed.
The site uses platitudes like, “By consumers, for consumers” and, “Don’t let them get away with it!”
But it’s the last one, “Let the truth be known!” that may be misleading. That is because a significant number of posts on Ripoff Report may be inaccurate or misleading.
The site has been widely accused of spreading defamatory content, then extorting victims by offering to edit the content on the site for pay.
For small businesses that may not have the resources to pay to get the negative reports edited or removed, being listed on the site could be devastating.
This is why it is imperative to respond immediately to reports on the site, no matter how negative or defamatory the content may be.
Ripoff Report Scams
Scams on Ripoff Report are all too common. Scammers might call your business and complain about not receiving a particular order. Only this order doesn’t exist.
When you refuse to send them any product, the scammers will threaten to write a bad review unless you send them money.
Another version of the scam involves a fake customer posting a fraudulent complaint about your business on the site. The scammer will send you a link to the review via email, along with an offer to remove or edit the review — in exchange for money.
But there are ways to mitigate the damage.
Aside from getting the report removed entirely, the best course of action may be to respond to the report and appeal to the person who wrote it.
Here is some advice to help you do just that.
Traditional Options for Dealing with Ripoff Reports
Your first reaction to seeing your business listed on Ripoff Report, regardless of whether the allegations are true or false, may be to get the report edited or removed entirely.
It’s an understandable reaction — but it might not be possible without paying high fees.
Before we cover how to respond to these reviews, let’s explore your other options.
Get Ripoff Reports Removed
If you want to wipe the internet clean of the negative review, there are removal services you can try.
Companies use advertising and PR campaigns to remove harmful content from the internet legally.
If you don’t want to go with a reputation management agency, you can always try turning to the site directly.
Use Ripoff Report’s CAP
The site has its own “Corporate Advocacy Program” (CAP) that promises to help you regain control over your online reputation. The program allows businesses to tell their side of the story and “take care of complaints on your own by filing rebuttals, which are free.”
As part of the CAP program, someone from Xcentric will review the report about your business and contact the author to verify if the report is unfair, unbalanced, or phony. The company claims it determines the truthfulness of complaints as best it can.
The CAP program provides updates to existing reports adding a headline noting your commitment to addressing complaints and helps prevent the filing of fake reports by competitors or malicious individuals.
All of this will not come free, however.
The last reported estimate of CAP starts at $7,500, followed by a monthly service fee and per-report fee.
How to Remove Ripoff Reports from Google
A single unsatisfactory review on Ripoff Reports can pose a reputational risk. You can try to use Google’s take-down process, but Ripoff Report may be able to subvert Google’s actions to de-index the offending content.
Bury the Ripoff Report with Positive Content
You can try to bury the report on the Ripoff Report site, which may carry over to Google and other search engines.
Start by looking at the meta-description used in the harmful content, and note the key terms they use.
Then use those keywords to create positive posts and pages in the hopes they will be ranked by Google. If all goes well, the content will outrank harmful content and banish those negative reviews further down in Google’s results.
For this to work, your posts need to be published on major online platforms that rank higher than the mention you don’t want.
However, this method can be time-consuming.
Imagine the amount of damage that could occur while you are working to rank more positive content.
Join Ripoff Report
If you can’t beat them, join them.
While Ripoff Report does seem to make its living off of extortion, Google seems to have a “love affair” with the site. You may be able to use that factor to your advantage.
Ripoff Report has high visibility, lots of online visitors, and with Google spreading the content far and wide, you can use this moment to come out ahead.
You can try to reply to the review in the hopes that your reply will show in the Google results, thus swaying consumers to see your side.
How to Respond to Negative Ripoff Reports
Before you respond to a foul review, consider if there is any truth to the report. If so, the best thing you can do is apologize. This will maintain your integrity while showing other consumers that you can admit when you’re wrong.
Fully admit to the mistake, and suggest steps for remedying the situation.
For example, if a consumer of your e-commerce store received a shirt in the wrong size, offer to send the correct size or a complete refund. Offer options and be reasonable and do your best to de-escalate the issue and deliver an adequate resolution.
To really hammer home that you are a reputable business, consider adding positive references to the rebuttal. That way, consumers reading your response can contact those references to determine on their own how committed you are to customer service.
You can also leave your contact information so other consumers can reach out if they want more information.
Ask the Consumer to Remove the Negative Review
If you can reach an amicable solution to the problem, ask the person if they will consider deleting the original review on Ripoff Report. Some consumers choose to edit their original posts with a follow-up.
Even if the consumer’s attitude has warmed the edit, the effect may not help your business, especially if the individual shares that you asked them to remove the review after solving the problem.
When to File a Ripoff Report Lawsuit
Finally, as a last resort before replying to the negative review, you can always try filing a Ripoff Report lawsuit.
Get a Court Order
Going to court over the negative review is certainly an option, but this method will not come cheap. There is also the time factor, as a defamation case may take months or years to process.
Oh, and it’s worth mentioning the Communications Decency Act, which protects Ripoff Report from defamation lawsuits.
The CDA was originally passed by Congress in 1996 as an attempt to regulate pornographic material online.
The act is the short name of Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which seeks to regulate indecency.
However, the language of the Act has been interpreted to mean that operators of online services are not to be considered publishers. This, in turn, means companies such as Ripoff Report are not legally liable for the words of third parties who use their services.
Direct Action to Remove a Ripoff Report
You can try suing the company behind Ripoff Report, Xcentric Ventures, LLC. However, to do so you will have to enter arbitration, which will cost you an initial fee of $2,000.
Plus, the company has been involved in quite a few lawsuits. These have been filed by individuals, search engines, and entire countries.
While other countries have succeeded in blocking the Ripoff Report (only for the blocks to be lifted shortly afterward), to date, the company has not lost one case in the United States.
Sue the Person Who Wrote the Defamatory Content
You can also bring a legal case against the Ripoff Report author. However, anyone over 14 can leave a review on the site. So the person could still be a minor and may have remained anonymous, making it impossible to file a case against them.
Suing Google for Ripoff Report Removal
Finally, can submit a court order against Google in the hopes of pressing the company to de-index the offensive search results.
However, suing Xcentric and even Google may bring more headaches than the case is worth.
You may find yourself with mounting legal fees and court cases that drag on for years. Those companies have the resources to delay matters in court. Do you?
What’s worse, if you lose your case, you may be required to pay the other parties’ legal fees.
Which could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For small business owners, suing is not a viable option. That makes responding and seeing the review as a positive element instead of negative that is your best resource.
How Can Ripoff Reports Help E-Commerce, Local, and SMB?
Instead of feeling down about your Ripoff Reports, use it as an opportunity to boost your business. Here’s how.
Focus on Superior Customer Service
If the negative reviews about you are truthful, fix what’s wrong, and grow your business. You should see the Ripoff Report as a positive.
Someone pointed out what needs to be repaired so that you can please your customers. If the issue points to slow response times, consider adding an e-commerce chat box to your site, for example.
This way, you are using the consumer’s grievances constructively and will come out ahead of the situation, despite the potential and temporary ding to your reputation. And, don’t forget to respond to the review and list what changes you’ve made.
Improve Your Products & Services
If the review is about your products or services (and the report has merit), tweak your offerings. Better customer service and attention to improving offers can go a long way toward getting more sales for your e-commerce business or getting more attention to your small business or SMB.
Don’t alter your course over one foul review, of course, but do pay attention to what your customers have to say.
Reframe It: There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
The negative report written about you may trash your business, but it’s also bringing your business to the top of consumers’ minds.
Everyone who reads the report will think of your business – good or bad. Use this to your advantage by replying to the review and making amends, which is the far superior option when faced with a bad review.
What if the review is fraudulent and doesn’t contain a lick of truth? You can still turn this situation into a positive by…
Burying the Negative Report Under Positive Google Reviews
Put effort into gathering all the online reviews you can. When you focus on customer service and premium offerings, your customers are sure to want to spread the good news.
Give them the platform they want by sending them to Ripoff Report and Google to leave online reviews.
By asking happy customers to leave unbiased reviews on Ripoff Report and Google, you will help push that negative content down in the search results.
And discerning customers reading your new reviews will see that your army of fans has come out to cheerlead for your side, mitigating the damage of the negative Ripoff Report.
Competitors to Ripoff Report
Ripoff Report is not the only review site out there, though it is very popular.
There are also a number of other review sites, and anyone could use them to write about your business.
Here are a few sites to keep an eye on.
Competitor 1: Complaints Board
The folks behind complaintsboard.com consider the site to be a virtual conference room where constructive conversations about business experiences happen. The site is professional and polished but, as expected, most of the reviews are negative.
Competitor 2: Consumer Affairs
Consumeraffairs.com contains business listings in a variety of industries, like Ripoff Report, only the company admits that companies pay the site to be accredited or when consumers click on their listings.
Anytime payment changes hands, the truth may become muddled, so take the information you read on this site with a grain of salt.
Competitor 3: Better Business Bureau
Bbb.org strives to be an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can come together and discuss businesses fairly and accurately.
The reviews on the Better Business Bureau tend to mix good and bad, much like Google reviews.
Monitor these sites for reviews about your business and respond promptly to keep your reputation high. Even if the reviews are negative, admit when you are wrong, try to make things right, and bury the review with others if you cannot come to a resolution that involves outright deletion.
Find time to build a comprehensive content marketing strategy and then tackle the problem head on. Appeal with the author of the review, state your case and try to make amends.
If the review is false or inflammatory, focus on other consumers who might read the review and leave your contact information so they can reach out for more information.
How will you respond to preserve and potentially boost your online reputation?