In a word…. sue. One important caveat, this only works ( for now) if you live in Virginia.
Earlier this month, the Virginia Court of Appeals found that a Yelp review was not protected First Amendment speech if the reviewer was not a customer and was making false statements. The result of the lawsuit was that Yelp was required to turn over to the company (Hadeed Carpet Cleaning) the names of 7 anonymous reviewers. Armed with the true identity of the reviewers, Hadeed Carpet Cleaning can then consider suing the individuals for libel.
So far, this decision is only relevant for Virginia-based companies. But, look for courts around the U.S. to tackle this issue as the sting of anonymous reviews are felt by more businesses.
Since the founding of Customer Lobby, we have refused to publish anonymous reviews. On Customer Lobby, all valid reviews are published. However, businesses have access to the name and contact information of those that review their business.
If a businesses questions a review that they believe was written by a non-customer of theirs, we reach out to the reviewer directly to ask for proof of a transaction or we remove the review. We believe that this level of transparency levels the playing field for businesses and consumers.
In addition, Customer Lobby offers a range of tools to help businesses communicate with their customers to help the “silent happy majority” of most businesses’ customer base tell their story.
What do you think? Does eliminating anonymous reviews make sense?