Sentiment is a powerful thing for businesses. In the world of digital free speech with websites that post people’s opinions, there’s a fine line between taking the “crowdsourced” opinions of customers as truth and acknowledging that any person can say anything about any company, true or false.
Zwick Window Shade Co. in Chicago is testing the waters of online reputation by filing a lawsuit against a couple who left a negative review on Yelp. The local company, which at the time of this story has a Yelp rating of 1.5 stars out of 5, is demanding that the couple take down their review.
The irony here is that the lawsuit has brought a flurry of other negative reviews to their Yelp page. People from New York to California are jumping all over the news that has received national attention and leaving reviews about the lawsuit rather than the service offered by the company itself. What makes it even worse is that a single Yelp review is usually not enough to prevent people from doing business with a company, but the attempt to have that review removed may be enough to cause bigger problems for a company that has been around for over 80 years.
The Streisand Effect is clearly at play. If there’s a silver lining for the company and whatever law firm thought this was a good effect is the local business is getting more publicity than they’ve likely ever received. We’ll monitor to see how this plays out in the long run but the suit, which is asking for $50,000 in damages plus removal of the review, is likely going to turn out to be a perfect example of how using lawsuits to quash digital expression in America is never a good idea, particularly if you’re a business.