How you complain online could get your problem solved, or get you sued

If you're unhappy with a store or restaurant, you might post a bad review online.

Now, businesses are suing over those words.

Headlines show contractors and dentists suing consumers over their online words saying it hurt their business and were untruthful.

Not all of them are winning. And I'm not saying don't write the review.

But it's a good time to re-think how to best complain online to get the most impact and have the least chance of getting sued.

My first piece of advice: take a step back before writing anything.

If you're like me, you get pretty angry if a business you hired isn't listening.

So, take a couple of breaths before you start writing for the world to see.

Remember, whatever you put online stays there for a long, long time.

To lessen your chances of getting sued, and what you should be doing anyway:

-Be honest and don't stretch the truth. This is always your best defense.

-Don't use inflammatory words like "stole", "scammed" or "ripped-off" even if you feel that's what the business has done. There are other words to use that make the same point.

-Try not to write your complaint in an angry way directed only at the business.  Write a review that will help other consumers avoid the same thing..

Consumer Reports advises it's safest if your complaint is legitimate, deals with just one issue, and can be supported with some proof.

Again, none of this is to say stop complaining online.

I think it's a great way to rally other consumers with the same issue and get the attention of the business.

But, stick with the facts. It will not only lessen your chances of getting sued, it's the right way to complain.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.


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