This holiday season you’ll probably be checking online reviews for restaurants, stores, products, and much more.  I know I look to online reviews when making purchasing decisions.  I’ve bought items and shied away from certain products based upon the review of others.  Beware of legal ramifications of online reviews.

Legal Ramifications of Online Reviews
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I was astounded to watch a newscast from KSHB in Kansas City about a woman who left a mediocre review on an orthodontist. She left him a 3 star review because she felt the service was OK. .

She was contacted by the orthodontist and asked what they could have done better and she told him.  She was impressed that he cared enough to call.  About a month later she received a nasty letter from an attorney that she was being sued if she didn’t take the 3 star review down.  It created quite a stir in that community. People even came up to her in the grocery store and said things to her over that issue.

While we have free speech laws a business still has the right to sue you if they feel they have been slandered. Some states have enacted an anti-slapp (Strategic Lawsuit Against public Participation) law that protects consumers from businesses or governments for voicing their honest opinion.  I’m no lawyer, but it appears Florida does have a law like this that protects against governments suing you. I read of a case where it was applied to protect against a business as well.

If a business must bully consumers into writing 5 star reviews or nothing at all I would suggest that business may take a beating in the court of public opinion. The Kansas City lady isn’t backing down and now it’s made national news.  How great is that for the orthodontist? I have no idea if he’s good or bad, and if I was in Kansas City I wouldn’t have judged him harshly for a mediocre review.  I think people weigh all the reviews before making an opinion.

I think this could have been handled much better. If a customer is unhappy with us I would hope they’d respect us enough to give us a chance to correct whatever issue was bothering them.  Most people will before writing a bad review.

We encourage reviews.  If  you’ve had a great experience with our team, or just enjoy reading our newspaper article, we’d love for you to review us at  If  you’ve had a mediocre or negative experience, send us an email at and we’d welcome the chance to address it.

We think this is a much better way to handle positive, mediocre, and negative reviews.  Hiring an attorney to threaten legal action over mediocre reviews just seems kind of old school and not in the spirit of how business is transacted today.  Sure, there are always goofballs that can hide behind an online identity and say whatever they want about your business, but this case in Kansas City doesn’t seem anything like that.

If you’d like to search the MLS like a pro, go to our website and you can see homes currently on the market throughout SW Florida.  If you have a property to sell, check out our reviews, then call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042 We’re easy to talk to and we love to help people.

We look forward to hearing from you and reading your reviews. And be careful when writing negative things about businesses unless it’s all true. While Florida may have some protections for you in can be costly to defend something like this.  It pays top check them out beforehand so you never have to write a bad review.

Good luck, and Happy House Hunting!

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Ellis Team

Fort Myers Real Estate Agent

7910 Summerlin Lakes Dr

Fort Myers, FL 33907