When consumers purchase things from, they’re encouraged to leave feedback in the form of a star rating and written review. These reviews help future customers decide if a product is worth the money. I’m always on the look out for budget versions of popular items and I’ve been steered away by poor reviews more than a few times. That criticism is invaluable when deciding how to spend my money, so it was alarming to hear that a company called Mediabridge Products threatened to sue a customer over a negative review he left concerning one of their routers.

The story broke on Reddit where the reviewer “trevely” copy and pasted a letter he received from Mediabridge. They threatened to take legal action if he didn’t remove the negative review that was originally posted in September. He posted the letter in an attempt to get both advice and contributions to possible legal fees.

The specific claims that the company took issue with included an accusation that they’ve faked Amazon reviews to boost their sales and that two of their routers are identical yet branded as different devices. Strong claims, to be sure, but claims like these are made frequently in the world of online retail.

The letter, sent by Mediabridge’s attorney Neal Jacobs, stated that unless the reviewer took down his review in three days (of receiving the letter), they would take legal action against his “illegal campaign to damage, discredit, defame and libel Mediabridge and/or to engage in other tortious, wrongful, and/or illegal conduct directed against Mediabridge.”

Mediabridge didn’t follow through with the lawsuit, thanks in no small part I’m sure to a very public backlash which included a flood of negative reviews on their products. According to several news outlets, the company posted an explanation of the incident on their Facebook page, saying that Amazon had revoked their license to sell products on the retailer’s website. At the time of this writing, it seems as if their entire Facebook page has been taken down too. If I had to speculate (and I do, because this is the Internet), it’s a response to the backlash. No doubt their Facebook page was an easy target for harassment.

So all in all, it was an awful situation. Nobody would argue against a company protecting its image, but threatening to sue someone over a negative review on the Internet, libelous comments or not, is not going to end well. While I think Mediabridge overreacted, I sympathize with anyone who finds themselves at the mercy of the Internet hivemind.

via Ars Technica

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