False accusations cause problems — especially for business owners. Before wired-life, libelous lies had little chance of reaching a mass audience; but today, every person with an Internet connection has near-equal access to billions of minds and eyes. These days, online defamation lawsuits are as common as divorce! But is suing always worth the hassle?
The Case of the Carlton Hotel
The Carlton Hotel in Oak Park, Illinois, is suing a former guest for $30,000.
Several months ago, a couple stayed at the Carlton. Let’s call them “the Kafkas” (not real names). After returning home from vacation, the Kafkas discovered bed bugs. Positive they didn’t have critters before leaving, the couple decided the Carlton was the root of their buggy woes.
Outraged, the Kafkas contacted the Carlton to complain. Convinced that the bed bugs could not have possibly come from the Carlton, hotel managers immediately contacted a pest control service to do a comprehensive sweep of the premises. Nothing was found. According to the pest-control report, “Not a single bed bug, dead or alive, was observed. Additionally, no fecal, blood evidence was found.”
Relieved, the Carlton contacted the Kafkas, informed the couple of the pest control company’s findings, and wished the couple luck. The Kafkas weren’t satisfied, though, and vowed to use every possible online outlet to educate the world about Carlton’s bed bug situation.
Feeling helpless against the spurious claims, Carlton Hotel owners decided that a defamation lawsuit was their only recourse. Lawyers filed papers and now the parties’ legal horns are locked.
Reputation Management: A More Economic, Business-Friendly Option?
The Carlton Hotel has a strong defamation case. There’s a chance they’ll win. But was a lawsuit the best option? More to the point, for a hospitality business, is suing clients – whether they deserve it or not – the best decision?
Today, review sites – particularly travel review sites – are a dime a dozen; so are Internet trolls. Anybody can review your establishment, even if they’ve never been there! So instead of filing defamation lawsuit, after defamation lawsuit, why not invest in a reputation management service?
What are the benefits?
A reputation manager will:
- Use a combination of online and offline tactics to ensure positive reviews and news about your business dominates search engine results.
- Help you plan a successful strategy to publicize your business.
- Monitor the Internet for negative feedback about your company.
- Quickly resolve potentially damaging statements or reviews that pop up on the Web.
Hiring a reputation manager who’s also an attorney is a smart move, because attorneys can also file court injunctions to remove defamatory statements from search engines like Google.