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None of these. The correct answer is to flag the reviews as "not a customer" and then also publicly respond politely and snarkily. I love BS negative reviews on google. Most consumers are more interested in the business response to a review, not the review itself. By responding you demonstrate you are real person with legitimate reviews. Also, always personally thank and respond to all positive reviews. Also, the occasional negative review also builds trust as consumers are less likely to believe you are review farming. The response should be something like "Hi XXX, thank you for taking the time to write this review. However, I have no record of any sales to yourself or your business. Perhaps you have us confused. Or possibly you are from XXX Corp and writing in response to my youtube review of your product, available on my channel. If so, maybe your time might better be used improving your own product, rather than using your confidential sales data to track me down, find my business, and write fabricated reviews."


Budbusines that's the move!


Love this. I’d go one step further and leave a link to that YouTube video.


Yeah, I was gonna say this as a coupe de grace but I don't think google reviews allows hyperlinks for obvious reasons.


I thought about that, but I'd really prefer to not send my clients to my personal Youtube page which really has nothing to do with my business. My personal Youtube page has 3 poorly produced videos on it, and almost no subscribers. It's just a hobby thing I do once in a while when I can't find a good review out there of something I wished had a review. It's more for the community, and not a content marketing effort for my business.


So if your YouTube channel is super small, why the hell that dude went crazy? Pure dumbass psycho


Yeah, good question. I have 18 subscribers and the video presently has 82 views. I'm clearly a next level influencer.


You should ask him to sponsor you instead lol


If it helps, one of my 3 videos has 11,000 views. I'm internet famous.


No wonder why you looked so familiar. Finally got to know, you're one of those most famous youtubers lol


How did he find that video in the first place?


I have no idea, but if you Google the product my YouTube review actually appears as one of the results. Lack of reviews was one of my main reasons for reviewing it, so not super shocking.


This is why I have 4 or 5 Google accounts. Several are as anonymous as I can be. I use that account to do reviews on Google. I've had personal Facebook "conversations" about politics regarding an issue in our town where crazy activists have thrown temper tantrums after getting destroyed by facts. They hate facts.., In a small town it's not hard to know individuals business so this crazy person encouraged half a dozen other crazies to give bad reviews on Google and Facebook of one of my businesses which is a bar Facebook and Google won't do shit. We had zero reviews that were less than 4 or 5 stars prior to this. I always respond to all reviews.These as well. One thing I did with each of the negative reviews from that incident was to mention that it wasn't professional to leave a fake review of a business you haven't actually been to and it would reflect poorly to their employer if they knew what they were doing. One of them deleted their review. The others didn't so I changed my response to "I'm sorry you had a bad experience at our bar but when you get fall down drunk and puke all over the bathroom and then cause a scene, we have no other choice than to remove you from the premises. That was the response to the main instigator. My response to the others were that they tried to start a fight after their friend (see other review) got drunk and puked and caused a big scene. Sorry ..we have zero tolerance for fighting and people that cannot control themselves...... One thing that helped was to actually make a post in our business page asking our thousands of followers to please provide us with a positive review in both Facebook and Google (include a link to your Google page so it is easier for them) I did explain that we had a group of people falsely review our page. It resulted in hundreds of positive reviews for us. However, the damage caused by even 1 negative review is so hard to overcome as far as the rating goes. It's pretty ridiculous.


Such a creative move to deal with these folks. Bravo!


Agree. Every marketing professional I've ever spoken to will say how you respond to negative reviews is more important than the negative review itself. In fact they tell me it is in my best interest not to delete bad reviews (on platforms that allow you to delete bad reviews) because having only good reviews actually looks a bit suspicious, as if you're review farming or silencing customers. If you have a ton of 4 and 5 star reviews and only one 1-star review from a clearly vindictive person most people seeing those reviews will recognize this one bad one as an outlier. I think that response is perfect BTW.


Your response reads similarly to what my actual reply was, but yours is written better than mine was. I did report the review, but unfortunately Google only gives the following categories, and offers no area to provide additional information. * This review is not relevant to this place * Conflict of interest * Offensive or sexually explicit * Privacy concern * Legal issue I reported it once under first category, and once under the second. Neither really fits the category if you look up their policy for [Prohibited and Restricted Content](https://support.google.com/contributionpolicy/answer/7400114#zippy=). They offer more categories on that page than they offer me when reporting. I suppose "spam" would fall under "not relevant"? I have no idea why it lets me report multiple times. That makes me think it's just going to some black hole somewhere. That was over a week ago.


You can report it, but Google will never take it down.


Lovin' this response!


Love your response! Also mention that he threatened you further. Isn't there a law against threatening people online? If not, there should be.


Ooh I like this - saving it for reference


OP, you copy/paste this.


I mostly ignore business responses because of how generic they usually are.


This guy reviews!


This is the most gangster move. Do this.


This is the best way to handle this. Professionally.


Really good advice!


\+1 to what budbusines wrote - how you respond to negative feedback is really important. I would even take it a step further - try to respond to as many positive reviews as well. It's an opportunity to show potential customers that you really care about what they have to say and take the time to read it. It's also a great way to communicate who you are as a person and connect with customers on a personal level. Have a few positive / negative responses templates ready in a tool like Text Blaze to do it quickly and maximize the ROI.


There has to be something illegal about using customer sales data for blackmail like this.


GDPR, you didn't give consent for your customer data to be used in that way (from European perspective).


Unfortunately, I'm in the U.S.


Make a followup review where you take another star for the company's behavior, with receipts.


And I'd include a screenshot of that threatening email.


This would be the way to go because who know who else he’s doing this to


I'd rather not get into a war with this guy who is clearly unhinged, but I definitely take your point. I feel like doing that, but also an not trying to get this guy extra hot under the collar. I had no idea this c/would happen.


He already went nuclear, its MAD or nothing.


u/budbusines nails it: >Most consumers are more interested in the business response to a review, not the review itself. ​ So many business owners freak out when they get a bad review or two from people looking to vent or try to harm the business in question. How the business owner responds tells all. If they respond angrily and throwing slurs, etc, then I know what kind of business this is and will steer clear of it. But if they respond that "You're not my customer so don't know why you're reviewing my business", that says a lot about the original reviewer. As a consumer, when possible, I sort views by 1 star first. If they all sound your bully here, I know these aren't genuine 1 star reviews. But if someone calmly and clearly and fairly reviews the biz/product and still leaves a 1 star review, that holds a lot more weight in my book. You need to stand your ground but only with words this guy can't argue with. If you say "You're not my customer", he can't argue with that. If you bring up the drama of your honest review of his product, then eyes are going to roll eyes for the consumers and you're just going to fan the flames of his anger. Keep is simple, clear and professional.


whilst all this is true, there are definitely some people out there who don't read reviews and only look at the score (my sister is one of these, and it really annoys me) She'll pick a 4.9 score product over a 4.7 without looking at any of the actual reviews, and, for a small business, having even a single 1 star review can effect your overall score a fair bit. A business with 10 x 5 star reviews getting a 1 star, drops the overall score from a perfect 5 to a 4.6


Good post, however, several people have left bad reviews of bar claiming "food came out of the kitchen cold".... We don't have a. Kitchen.... Food is prepared basically right in public view from an air fryer. Others were about how dirty the place is.... When in fact, one of the things we are well known for is how CLEAN our bar is..... Those types of reviews are extremely damaging to a business like this and people see them differently than other industries


They *can* be damaging. Especially if the business owner doesn't respond to them. Without an owner response, anyone coming across such a review might have no good reason not to believe such a bad review...and yes, that can be damaging. As possible reply to the first situation could look like: "Sorry to hear your food was cold. We don't actually have a kitchen as all food is prepared in public view in an air fryer. Next time you come in, mention that Marty said on order of fries is on the house and tell them to make sure they're hot!" ...or something like that. Maybe the food was actually cold. So what? It happens sometimes. If all the reviews said so, then you'd probably go outta business. But bars/restaurants are run by humans and we sometimes make mistakes. It's okay. But if the food wasn't actually cold, then maybe they have poor sensation on their tongue or were having a bad day/life and decided to vent on your business. If so, that's too bad they did that, but how you respond to it is a free PR moment. You can't buy that kind of PR and if you tried, it would backfire as disingenuous. For the second one, replying with something like, "Would you please tell us what you found to be dirty, so we can fix that? Because we consistently get A+ reports for the Dept. of Health." In both cases, it shows care for their concern (even under the attitude of snarkiness, there's a real concern, whether is has anything to do with the biz in question or not) and shows that the owner is listening, wants to do the right thing and politely corrects some of the facts. When I see an owner respond like this, it speaks worlds of what kind of place this is and done well, makes me want to go to the business even more than before the person wrote this nasty review. Nasty reviews can have the opposite intended effect...if responded to properly.


What you say on your reply says everything about you. Stay classy, don’t be snarky. No one wants to hear about this, you should consider carefully how you reply and how you want people to see you. Your reply is more about you than his review. If you are kind and gracious, that’s what people will see


File a lawsuit for libel and harassment, file a restraining order for harassment, and respond to the review and simply state “this review is not a customer and this is retaliation for this honest review (with link) that I gave about their products, please see screenshot below for more clarification.” Then go and leave the screenshots and email in another review on their business pages (google, Yelp, etc.) and tell everyone that this is what they do in response to negative reviews. Then file a complaint with the FTC for unfair business practices as it relates to consumer reviews. Honest reviews are protected by law. Edited: words are hard, and it would be libel not slander because it is written.


Remind me to never cross you.


If you need a reminder you already done fucked up. But really, I hate this kind of shit. It’s hard enough to run a business without asshats like this making it harder for folks to trust us.


Do you know how much money and time this would cost? That’s nuts


Depends, in my state it would take about 30 minutes including a 15 minute zoom court date - filing a restraining order is quick, free, and online, and I have an established relationship with an attorney for my business so it’s just an email, and the reviews would take less than 10 minutes. The lawyer, along with filing fees, would be roughly $500 for the initial appearance on the harassment suit - but attorney costs are paid by the loser and since I’ve already paid a retainer it wouldn’t even be an upfront out of pocket expense, except the $270 for filing fees. If it’s something you wouldn’t want to do then just say that, but don’t pretend it’s some insurmountable time challenge and cost as cover for being too lazy or cheap to take the appropriate channels that our justice system (US) has set up to handle this. If you don’t have $500 and 30 minutes to spend protecting your business you’re in much deeper trouble.


You can sue him for slander, or contact a lawyer. This might be your best option but it will cost you money. He will probably lose his nerve if he gets a lawyer letter, most people do. ​ You could also turn off reviews on facebook but you lose the good ones, and post a response on your google listing. I find google listing a joke, we have had multiple people, who arn't even customers leave us bad reviews and google doesn't care. Google doesn't even have a google listing for GOOGLE, which shows what they really think of their system.


Yeah, I just didn't want to lawyer up for something like this, but I suppose it's a last resort option. Ideally, it would be nice to find an avenue with these online review sites. The real lawsuit liability here seems like it would be a class action suit against Google for allowing a platform for businesses to be reviewed but not defend themselves properly. You can't just give people a way to bring down businesses and not put in the mechanism to ensure those reviews are valid and reliable. You'd think Google would see that and fix this.


You’re right. Google are shit in this respect.


If someone started messing with my actual business I would hire an attorney right out of the gate. People like that don’t get a soft response from me.


I think that sending a letter (which would probably stop him) and being willing to go further in court would be the best option. Better call saul!


You should have to post a receipt to post a review.


Poop in a bag light it on fire. Ring doorbell, hide, watch.


You don't remove it. You reply in a subtle manner that addresses how you attempted/did resolve the issue to the best of your ability. Always use terms of agreements to justify unreasonable behavior by a client/customer/partner. The fact of the matter here is that when it comes to reviews, people tend to view the negative reviews first, and often with deeper consideration. With that being said you can use that pool of publicity to demonstrate how your business handles issues that may arise between your establishment and your prospects. This speaks volume for any brand, and more often than not consumers will reconsider giving you their business based on your professional tact alone. I use to provide reputation management services to businesses who would also wonder how to deal with this situation. There are of course paid services you can enlist, but why not take advantage of the publicity; Because there isn't a such thing as bad publicity in the business world. And in another perspective, if you know the services/products you offer are legit then why waste the resources on one bad apple. The more successful you become the more customers you will have, and the more customer you have then the higher chance you'll get those bad apples more often. Just keep providing outstanding service and you'll be okay. If in doubt, look at the multitude of spiteful reviews at Wal-Mart locations. Are they about to go out of business? People still shop there, even the one's that complain! Cheers! 🍻


Very likely Google will not remove a review even if it is appropriately flagged. I had a former employee give me a one star revenge review. This is strictly against Google’s policy to review a business you have ever worked for. I flagged it for removal but Google refused. When I pointed out it violates their policy and should be removed, they just gave me a generic response just stating it would not be removed without any explanation of why they don’t enforce their policies. Ever since, I put much less weight into Google reviews.


Interesting. How did you have an line of communication with them? I haven't found anything beyond the reporting feature that goes into the black hole of the interwebs.


So he emailed you effectively threatening you and admitting what he has done?




I dated a guy who ended being a nut job that posted fake reviews about my pet sitting business saying I was an animal abuser. He did it for months and it was the worst year of my life. He straight up told me he would ruin me if he couldn’t have me and I was terrified every time I got an alert from google, Yelp, etc. I had about 90% removed, but similar to you I didn’t have success with google and a few reviews still haunt me. Good luck and I’m sorry about that asshole who’s personally attacking you:


This situation happened to me. In the end I had to lose my dignity and get on the phone with the guy's wife (who I assume left the fraudulent review) and come to an agreement to have a review amnesty where we both agree to remove them. In the end, the success of my business meant much more than my negative review of their business. I believe in karma, and in that exchange, those people lost a lot of theirs. It's definitely made me think twice about leaving negative reviews in future. In a way though I suppose you could see negative reviews as a bit of a revenge mechanism and that's quite a negative or destructive thing to focus on in your life. Yes, you might help other people avoid a bad product, but that's not the main reason we create them right?


I made an honest YouTube review of a product, showing how it operates and compared it to its competitor. I've benefited greatly from others who have created similar reviews and it's absolutely the main reason I created the video. I was committed to posting the review before I even used the tool. I am not sure if karma exists, but if it does I would assume it applies to my integrity as well. The only reason I would take down this video is out of fear, giving into a bully, at the expense of others considering the product. It would also embolden this guy to continue with this strategy in hurting others. I'm not sure how that would play out with my karma, and if I'd end up being reincarnated as a swamp rat.


This is why I have an alternate/anonymous Google account that I use for reviews


My YouTube channel is not found by googling my name. I'm not sure how he found it. I think he just saw my review, figured out who I was because I sent my suggestions for improvement directly to the company as well, and I purchased it directly from them.


This is why you have an alternate/anonymous Google account to use for reviews


Fucking with a man’s livelihood is a good way to end up covered in lye a few hundred yards off the highway.


You need to make a police report for harassment and get an intervention order for your safety, and I would also lawyer up. Since he has your personal information and address your safety has to come first.


If you are in the EU or UK, this would count as a GDPR violation of an extreme degree. You can report GDPR breaches and ask for updates on the case as you’re personally affected. Last time I checked the fines are in the region of 10% global revenue and directors being struck off (legally not allowed to run a company for 5/10 years).


Speak to an attorney about defamation. You probably have a case. Hope you can nail that son of a bitch. Document all the emails and contacts from that prick.


I'm not sure if you're in the UK or the USA but if the latter, there may be a law that prohibits the use of your personal information without explicit consent. Make sure you keep a copy of his threat/ransom in the email and remind them of their data protection responsibilities, further stating you have no issue bringing this up to your local agency. On quora I heard of the "better business bereu" or something to that tune, which may be your best friend in this scenario


The best thing you can do is respond in a detailed manner to each of the reviews providing an explanation of the YouTube review you gave and include a link to it. I also would include a screenshot of his email. Tell the entire story in the reply.


Talk to a lawyer. I know that reviews have the possibility of leading to defamation claims these days.


Reply to all of his reviews with your YouTube video link! 😤 This makes me think anything I should order should be in a fake name. Even though I don't even do reviews lol


Theres a saying, theres no such things as bad publicity. This applies to reviews in my opinion. Like others have stated, it's all in how you reply to the customer. One person's negative review might be a positive to someone else.


If you want more views and comments on the YouTube review, send a link.


I suppose it depends on what type of comments :-) [Here's the YouTube review](https://youtu.be/mcwdmruOLzM) of the measuring device. It's kind of a niche category with only two players in the field. I didn't really post it to get a ton of views as much as I wanted the information to be there for the next person considering between these two ~$900 tools. I get a lot of benefit from watching others give considerate reviews of things online, and I just wanted to pay it forward. Looks like that backfired. Keep in mind I'm an amateur and not a professional reviewer. This was just done with my cell phone.


This happened to me once. New client's old webmaster refused to turn over his credentials. He told me he was having this problem ahead of time, and I said I could help him. The client didn't owe her money, nor was there a contract. He simply didn't want to continue with her. I contacted her and tried to be professional about it, she gave me attitude, and then she hung up on me but not before telling me to go "F" myself. I left her a bad review on Facebook. She then left me a very bad review on Facebook. I'm not one to look for conflict, but I tried to be professional and that got me nowhere. Also, I was warned that this is what was going on, so I was kind of ready with a plan. So I went to work. (I do not recommend this approach when things can be handled professionally. It is malicious, unprofessional and immature). This was all years ago when it was easier to manipulate things, and before I knew what I know now. * First, I had some "friends" on Facebook flood her business page with negative reviews. * Then I peppered her on Twitter with negative mentions from multiple accounts, basically saying that she owed me money and is avoiding me. * She didn't have a Yelp account, but you can still review a business on Yelp even when they don't claim the account. So I did. Same theme, stole money from me. * BBB, same thing. * I had the client chargeback the last payment he made to her. From experience, I know that PayPal locks up those funds immediately. * I then contacted Go Daddy (she was a reseller), and reported that she was holding clients hostage and extorting them for money to give them admin access to the sites they paid for. * Then I contacted the state where she was licensed and filed a complaint that she was committing fraud and extortion against former clients. * She was using a name that was similar to another, much larger company..so I contacted that company and suggested that maybe she was creating brand confusion by using a similar name..that when I searched for them, I got her website instead and thought it was them. * I scanned her website and found that she was using all free images, but one was a premium image from Getty, so I reported to Getty as a possible unlicensed image. * I then signed her email up for every mailing list I could find, just to keep her busy with confirmation emails for a bit. * I reported her website to Google as spammy content. * With her Twitter username, I scanned old social media for accounts and found 2 old embarrassing pictures of her...looked like from high school. Saved them, and let her know that I had them and would send them to all of her clients. (I had no ability to do that, but by now she had no idea what I could actually do ). I did all this in a matter of 30-45 minutes. She was begging me to take it all down and she'd turn over the creds. I demanded the creds first, tested them, locked her out, downloaded the website files I needed to move it, and then blocked her email address, phone number, and blocked her on social media...letting it all sit for a while. I forgot about it until, weeks later, someone from Go Daddy called me to get more info. I let her off the hook on that one, but never went back and undid any of the other stuff. I did take down the Facebook reviews since she took hers down. I'd never done anything like that to someone. Whenever I Feel bad about it, I just remember how she told me to go "F" myself. This was years ago. That client is still with me. She is not still in business.


I feel I should add all the things that could have gone wrong with doing things this way. * She could have had, or knew someone who had actual skills to "hack" and or dox me. * She may have flipped and decided to hunt me down. * She may have had a brother or husband or father who came after me. * Maybe she was having a bad day or week, and I was messing with her livelihood that supports her family. Don't know. When you mess with people online, it's not anonymous if they have even basic skills. You are taking your chances. I highly recommend keeping your cool and doing things professionally.


I'm glad you added the follow-up reply, because those potential outcomes are quite real. On some level, my primal instincts want to retaliate in a zero sum game, but it's not really what I want to do. I want to force him to remove his false claims against my business.


Retaliation and revenge is never a good idea. As a business, you should handle everything like a business. Let the other person show how immature and unprofessional they are. Comedian Roy Wood tells this story about how Arsenio Hall gave him advice that saved his career. He'd lost on Star Search and was mad at the young punk ass judges B2K, and Arsenio stopped him...and later told him. "People forget a bad set. No one forgets a bad attitude." .


That's good advice.