QLD bullied to remove honest review

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Danny E., 2 June 2017.

  1. Danny E.

    Danny E. Member

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    I made an anonymous review about bad experiences with a real estate. My wife and I began receiving calls immediately. She answered at work and it's the company's principal. He immediately started playing the blame game and was not even interested in what happened. He wanted us to change the review and let him try to resolve the issue. He questioned why I didn't use my first name and that he does. He made several vague threats as an attempt to bully us..I removed the review and responded with a detailed email why I believe they deserved the negative rating. He since hasn't contacted us or attempted to refute the negative rating. He was only interested in removing the review. Should we put the review back up? He mentioned all the places we applied for and that he has all our detail and can put it out there and he knows people at all the branches. He knew we were just accepted for a rental property in a near by town by the same company and felt the need to mention he has connections. It came across as threatening. He even felt the need to bring up my nationality and how he only received negative comments from my nationality. Do I have the right to give a 1 star review if we had such a bad experience?
     
  2. Gorodetsky

    Gorodetsky Well-Known Member

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    Hi Danny E,
    I'm not a solicitor.

    Do you have the right to make an honest review?
    Sure.

    Will the law protect you if this dude unreasonably victimised you?
    Only if you've got lots of money. Or are well versed in tenant's rights.

    Should you put the review back up?
    Dunno. Only you can answer that.

    My thoughts?
    Well, there is benefit to be had from anonymity. Maybe you could use some of that.
    Not sure what you could post anonymously which would not arouse his suspicion, and lead to you moving out. But I'm sure you or karma can get him back eventually.

    Regards
    Gorodetsky
     
  3. Lance

    Lance Well-Known Member

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    Hi Danny,
    I agree with Gorodetsky. There is nothing to be gained from reposting it, other than piece of mind and maybe helping future tenants stay clear. Life generally get's even with bad people. And I would suggest that the negative review you submitted was sufficiently detail to either indicate it was your submission or just too recent. If you waited 6 months and make it a bit more general in nature you might be able to warn people of this bad agent. Your call.
     
  4. willipy

    willipy Active Member

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    I got bullied for my honest review as well.
    And what I understand reading the posts here is that the law does not protect regular honest people. Wow.
    I was threatened with a defamation claim. If I give up, the bad guy wins.
     
  5. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    There have been a few posts on here lately from people who have posted a "negative review" online and then received some kind of threat regarding a claim of "defamation". So let's be clear about what defamation actually is.

    Defamation only occurs if "you knowingly make a false statement or make a statement where you are reckless as to the accuracy of that statement." If every word of your review is factually correct, then it is NOT defamation. The threat is a standard response from people who think that making that threat will force you to delete the review. If your review is factually correct, then stand your ground and don't delete it.

    With that said however, it is always very important to remember that usually when people write negative reviews, their emotions are elevated and the review often reflects this. It is therefore extremely important that you only state facts, and NEVER let your emotions dictate the wording. If you get emotional, you can easily end up saying something that can get you into a lot of trouble. The trick to writing reviews, is to be factual and generic as far as possible.

    My advice to anyone in this situation is to check your review and edit it according to the following:

    1. Check the wording of your review, only keep what is "fact" and delete everything that is "opinion". (eg: "we were quoted $40 but were charged $50" is a fact - "the service wasn't worth $50" is opinion.)

    2. Delete or replace everything that is based on emotion. (eg: "this place sucks" is emotion - "based on my experience, I would not recommend this place to anyone." is a fact based on your own experience.)

    3. Never name individuals. (eg: Never say something like "Mr Smith said..." or "Abby said...". Always use a generic title where you can, such as "the staff member said..." or "the employee said...". If there are issues with multiple employees, use "staff member 1", "staff member 2" or "employee1", "employee2", etc.)

    4. Never bring up gender or anything else that may be interpreted as discriminatory. (eg: Never say "the female employee said ...." - just say "the employee said...".)

    5. Avoid using job titles wherever possible. (eg: If you have a problem with a staff member and then with a manager, don't refer to the manager directly, use something like "superior", "supervisor" or something similar. Likewise, if your beef is with "bar staff" for example, just use "staff member(s)" or "employee(s)". Don't single anyone out unless there is only a single aspect of multiple services provided that you have a problem with, and you are perfectly fine with everything else - in which case, you probably shouldn't be writing a "negative" review in the first place.)

    6. Always name the location as many business are privately operated franchises and your negative experience doesn't necessarily reflect the service standard of the parent "brand name" as a whole. (eg: For something like fast food or accomodation, never use "company name" on it's own - always use "compnay name at suburb and state".)​

    If you take the above precautions and you still receive a threat regarding "defamation", then either:

    1. Don't respond at all, or

    2. Respond with "I stand by my review as being factually correct. If you have any issue with that, then I invite you to take any action as you see fit."​

    From a legal standpoint, no business can succeed in any legal action against an honest review if the facts claimed in the review can be substantiated.

    For a plaintiff to win a defamation case, they have to convince a court that "at the time you published the statements, you either knew or were reckless to the fact, that your satements were false or misleading." This is the very essence of defamation and without this, there is no case.
     
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  6. willipy

    willipy Active Member

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    Scruff
    Thank you for such a detailed guide. I had a lot of reading on the subject last days, and found quite the opposite advise: avoid facts and express opinions.
    Personally I like the facts better.
     
  7. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    Wherever you've seen that - it's terrible advice. Opinion is not necessarily fact and can therefore lead to a valid claim of defamation.

    The whole essence of defamation is "truth" or "fact". Opinions vary and are not always factually correct. When it comes to reviews, it's all about how you word it and making sure that you only state facts. Anything that is false, a guess, an assumption, or an opinion can get you into hot water - exactly the same way that it can with any other type of "publication".
     
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  8. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member
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    Both facts and opinion can be defences to a claim of defamation.

    Claimed facts will need to be proven.

    And opinion must be reasonably held. It is an objective test, not subjective.

    Can't prove facts, can't prove honest reasonable opinion, then you may not have a good defence. Note that there a few more defences you can try in particular circumstances.

    Defamation is not a straightforward area of law
     
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  9. willipy

    willipy Active Member

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    Thanks. I based my negative review on the fact that he breached the Fair Trading Act.
    But now I've changed the text to asking anyone to call me + phone number. But he keeps attacking me in the comments.
     
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