The Internet has done some wonderful things for businesses. One downside, though, is that it has opened up new vistas in consumer complaints websites. Instead of a consumer complaining to you directly, or choosing a method to try and settle the matter, they can simply take it to an anonymous complaints website.
Worse, not all of these complaints websites are upstanding digital citizens. Many make no attempt to verify the veracity of accusations, or even that the poster is a real customer of the business. Some sites try to pressure you into paying for “removal services” or otherwise seek to extort money from targeted businesses.
Among these sites, ComplaintsBoard.com is one that receives a lot of negative attention. Below, you’ll learn what you need to know about ComplaintsBoard.com and how they operate, as well as what you can do if complaints against your business appear on their site.
How ComplaintsBoard.com works
If you want to submit a complaint, you type in an email address, write your complaint, and hit post. Once the comment has been screened for questionable language or other Terms of Service violations, it gets posted. In theory, complaints are only supposed to appear after an email address is verified, but there have been accusations that the site skips this step, and even that it fabricates reviews.
ComplaintsBoard.com undertakes no other verification measures. It doesn’t contact the business, and it doesn’t examine the complaint for factual accuracy. Businesses aren’t allowed to “officially” reply to any comments, nor can they claim the business profile.
Worse, the comments section on each complaint has a similar lack of verification. This makes it fertile ground for smear campaigns, libel, and other reputational problems.
Criticisms of ComplaintsBoard.com
One of the most damning criticisms of ComplaintsBoard.com is the fact that they’ve been taken to court by one of their competitors, the equally infamous Ripoff Report, for copyright infringement. In addition, the site has a rather lengthy history of questionable practices and shadowy ownership, not least around removing bad reviews from ComplaintsBoard.com.
First of all, it seems unclear who, precisely, owns ComplaintsBoard.com. It appears, currently, to be owned by a Russian man and run by a corporation in Latvia, but several names have been tied to the site over the years, and it’s unclear if these reflect the site being sold to multiple individuals or an attempt to hide the real identity of the owner.
Secondly, the site has been accused, repeatedly, of underhanded practices. For example, you don’t have to go far to find claims that the site “scrapes” reviews from other websites and reposts them, which means that if you get a bad review in one location, you now have to worry about it showing up on ComplaintsBoard.com as well.
The site has also been accused of approaching businesses and demanding financial compensation to remove or otherwise redact reviews.
How seriously do consumers take ComplaintsBoard.com?
That remains an open question. Certainly the site’s anonymous nature and inflammatory content will alienate some readers, but customers who are unfamiliar with its shady nature may be taken in. Depending on your business and consumer base, ComplaintsBoard.com’s influence can range from nothing to catastrophic.
So with that in mind, is it even possible to delete bad reviews from ComplaintsBoard.com? Yes, but it requires a bit of strategy and a lot of patience.
Erasing Bad Reviews from ComplaintsBoard.com’s search results
There have been reports of ComplaintsBoard.com removing reviews when contacted by the business being reviewed. If you decide to contact them, here’s what you should do:
- Keep your comments polite and fact-based
- Explain why the complaint is misleading or baseless
- Explain what steps, if any, were taken to resolve the issue
Following the submission of your request, it may take several days to get a response. Also note that ComplaintsBoard.com does not respond to requests on the weekends.
Is ComplaintsBoard.com responsible for defamatory materials?
Not usually. As described on their website, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Complaintsboard.com is not liable for the postings of their users. This is true for most online services that allow third-party users to post content. Even if it weren’t the case, however, the site is based in Latvia, essentially putting it beyond the reach of United States law. If you were to win a libel judgment against ComplaintsBoard.com, there would still be no way to enforce it directly.
Getting Google and Bing to deindex your complaint
Until recently, there was a secondary reason you might want to sue ComplaintsBoard.com or its reviewers for libel. That reason was that Google and bing would generally remove content from their search index if presented with a court ruling showing defamation. The content would still be on ComplaintsBoard.com, but it wouldn’t appear in your search results, making it essentially invisible to the vast majority of Web searchers.
Unfortunately, both companies have deprioritized responding to these requests. While they will still accept requests in some cases, reports from defamation attorneys suggest that they are simply ignoring the vast majority of requests. In order to get the complaint effectively deindexed, you would need a court order requiring Google or Bing to do so, which is a much higher legal bar to clear.
Suppressing bad ComplaintsBoard.com reviews
If other removal tactics haven’t worked for you, your best option is to suppress the negative complaint with an online reputation management campaign. Essentially, what this means is that you create quality content about your business that ranks better than the complaint, pushing ComplaintsBoard.com down in your search results.
How does this help? Research has shown, repeatedly, that only the first handful of search results are seen by most searchers, and few if any people go to the second page. Forcing a bad review off your first page of results is almost as good as making ComplaintsBoard.com delete a review.
To get started with your online reputation management campaign, check out our Definitive Guide to Online Reputation Management. You can also contact our support team for a personalized assessment of your situation.
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