Then I saw [this story] about a critical on-line review of a doctor. Apparently the defendant didn't like the doctors bedside manner amoung other things. The good doctor didn't like the review and wasn't going to take this lying down, so he sued to have it removed. Of course the brilliant doctorended up promoting the review more than the patient ever could have hoped. But the whole things got me to wondering if anyone has ever successfully sued a professional wine writer over a scathing review?
While I'm not an attorney, I believe a suit could be brought for monetary damages if a review like that were proven untrue, the writer knew it wasn't true, and it established a loss in brand or current sales. Of course proving someones own subjective opinion was knowingly wrong isn't easy.
And while we're on the subject, what about all the consumer reviews in Blogs YELP and other on-line consumer sites? Has anyone been sued for saying bad things about a wine in the Wild West of the Web? And a related question: What should you do about those types of reviews?
So what about wine? Have wine writers ever been sued? The answer is yes. I found the following in the place where all truth is housed, Wikipedia:
You may expose yourself to liability if, for example, Your Content contains material that is false, intentionally misleading, or defamatory; violates any third-party right, including any copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, moral right, privacy right, right of publicity, or any other intellectual property or proprietary right; contains material that is unlawful, including illegal hate speech or pornography; exploits or otherwise harms minors; or violates or advocates the violation of any law or regulation.Here is a reveiw from a consumer who rated a tasting room on YELP:
Blech on all levels. I spit out most of the wine and didn't like the attitude we got from the woman working there, who admitted at the end she had just started working there and had no training, so she couldn't answer any questions about the wines. Nice.What should you as owner do with something like that? YELP does have a section for a comment from the owner in the review. While the owner may have elected to not comment, its also possible she didn't see it and if so, missed out on direct consumer feedback and an opportunity to make something right for someone who had a bad experience.
The one wine I did like the most was incredibly overpriced and in no way worth it. If your hotel gives you free passes to this place, as they did for us, try to trade them in for somewhere else...
The Gray Report Wine Blog.] The blogger himself wasn't sued, just someone who commented.
So what do you do with negative reviews? Probably a few things:
- If you don't have something nice to say, at least make sure you say it signed in as Anonymous because its harder to sue Anonymous.
Regarding the report, we always start the process with a survey of industry conditions. If you are a winery owner, this is the last week for you to participate in the [Annual Wine Conditions Survey]. Participants get exclusive research and analysis that can be used in your 2013 planning process. Its only a 5 minute survey. About 500 wineries annually participate so please take that 5 minutes and offer your insights. You will get a very good return on your investment of time.
Comment away if you have experience with monitoring, replying to, or litigating negative wine reviews. Offer up your own thoughts about dealing with these situations. And if you have more legal experience than me on this subject (I have virtually none) feel free to enlighten the community on the current thinking in the legal environment that pits consumer or professional reviews against Free Speech.