Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Legal threat against TripAdvisor?

While we generally support the concept of online guest reviews, we are aware of the vexing problem when accommodation providers experience alleged malicious reviews.

A UK company KwikChex that offers businesses online reputation management tools and their own online customer feedback platform claims to be representing 120 hotels that are threatening legal action against 

KwikChex say that they have been frustrated in trying to remove adverse online reviews on TripAdvisor on behalf of their clients.

KwikChex are preparing to send TripAdvisor a dossier containing details of negative reviews that are claimed to be untrue, damaging or legally unsubstantiated. If their clients reviews are not removed, KwikChex are threatening group defamation charges that they are claiming to front in courts on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

On behalf of their clients, KwikChex are also demanding to see the algorithm behind the rating system for hotels as well the strategy behind an email marketing campaign.

It is difficult to evaluate if KwikChex have a legal case or have the necessary resources to take on Expedia owned TripAdvisor. It has to be kept in mind that KwikChex by going public with a threat of litigation is gaining valuable publicity with a sympathetic group of accommodation providers and are highlighting their own services.

The ability for the public to use a web-based platform to review and recommend (or not!) a product or service seems to be a basic internet freedom that most take for granted.

If TripAdvisor are taken to court, it will be fascinating to see if the courts are willing to try and impose regulation upon platforms of social networking.

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