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


Each day we talk to customers that want to move to SW Florida to enjoy our year round sunshine and all we have to offer, like boating, fishing, shelling, golf, tennis, and more.  Often times customers find themselves buying expensive real estate on a golf course or waterfront homes with a dock in the backyard.

Living the SW Florida Dream Affordably

Living the SW Florida Dream Affordably Freedom Boat Club Fort Myers Beach Carefree Boat Club Fort Myers
Fun For the Whole Family

Some potential buyers dream about buying in SW Florida but are just shy of having enough money to buy that expensive golf course home or waterfront property without exhausting too many reserves to pull it off, so they do nothing and give up.

If buyers knew of cost saving alternatives to enjoy the SW Florida lifestyle we believe many would act, so we looked into affordable boating and found some answers.

Boat club costs versus owning a boat in SW Florida

You’ll see many ads for boat clubs on TV and in the newspaper and there are all kinds from local clubs to national companies.  We decided to focus on national companies because we’ve seen some local companies close shop leaving their customers out in the wind.  National companies may be more secure and offer ways to enjoy boating while traveling as well.

We focused on the two best known national companies to us, Freedom Boat Club and Carefree. Both have local and national locations and costs vary by location.  Each club works similarly in many aspects in that there is a buy-in and a monthly cost.  Freedom Boat Club has some seasonal options in addition to the yearly plans, so you can save money if you only want to use a boat during certain months.

Carefree Boat Club has the lowest buy-in at $3,500 with a 5 year rate lock and $4,500 with a 3 year rate lock. Freedom Boat Club has lower monthly fees and a $5,500 buy-in and the rate is locked in for life.

Carefree Boat club advertises that members save 40-60% compared to owning their own boat.  Freedom Boat Club provided a chart that compares the cost buying a new boat and maintaining for 3 years versus being a boat club member and saving for 3 years.  There is no doubt joining a boat club is more cost effective.

You do give up the convenience of having your boat in your back yard and using it anytime you want, but both boat clubs agree that availability is plentiful because they keep their membership numbers at certain ratios.  As they increase members they add more boats to the fleet.

Gone are the days of paying for insurance, towing services, costly maintenance,  boat payments, storage if you dry dock it or rent a slip, tax, title, and licensing, and all the headaches of owning a boat.  Don’t forget to mention the cost of selling and buying newer boats as time goes on.

For a one-time investment and low monthly fees you can have it all, and save on real estate too.  The hard core boater or fisherman will probably not be attracted to such an idea, but the casual boater who would like to enjoy the water without all the cost and headache of boat ownership will be attracted.

Snowbirds from up north who are casual boaters will be too as they won’t have to tie up hundred’s of thousand’s of dollars in expensive waterfront property just to house that boat that will also cost them.

There is a saying that goes, “The two best days in a man’s life is the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.”  Not sure why it wouldn’t apply to women too.

By joining a boat club you take away that last day where you’re relieved to sell the boat because it cost you bunches to keep it.  Now you have an affordable alternative.

Whether you need to look for an expensive waterfront home or condo, or a more laid back parcel you can retire in, Always Call the Ellis Team at RE/MAX Realty Group 239-489-4042

Good luck, and Happy Boating, no matter how you get out there!

If you’re considering buying or selling in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Ft Myers Beach or anywhere in Lee County Florida, give us a call. 239-489-4042 or visit our website

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