GET HELP: If after you review the information contained below and our other pages under the “HELP & FAQs” tab located at the top of each webpage on our website you are still unclear or have a question that is not answered therein, please reach out to our Customer Service and Support Department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Contact Us page located as a dropdown to the Help & FAQs menu also has useful information about getting into contact with Ripoff Report.
Our website, www.ripoffreport.com, at its basic level, is a website that provides an open and public forum for free speech. More specifically, it is designed to be a forum for individuals (honestly and accurately) post about their experiences with goods and services provided by individuals and/or companies. We call these postings “Reports.”
A vast majority of the Reports on our website are complaints about being ripped off in some form or fashion. In this way we are a consumer advocates because, through the Reports, we are allowing consumers to educate other consumers about potentially faulty goods, bad service, and/or potential scams. Some individuals will even use the site to warn others about individuals who have, in the Authors eyes, commit some bad acts. The Authors of the Reports are required to create a free profile, and fill out a form with their contact information, including checking a box certifying what they are posting is true, to make their Report. Once the Monitors have reviewed the content for prohibited content (financial information, social security numbers, foul language, etc.) then the Report gets posted and becomes search able via search engines such as Google.
To utilize the Ripoff Report website (meaning being able to post Reports and/or make comments to existing Reports) one must register for a free User Account. All you have to do is click on the red “FILE A REPORT” button at the top of the webpage and you will be taken to a screen where you can either register or login. Information relating to FAQs on Technical Issues, such as more specific details for registering for a free user account, the process for filing a Report, troubleshooting, etc., can be found on out FAQs – Technical Information page that is located as a drop down to the Help & FAQs tab at the top of the webpage. Before you get started in writing your Report you are encouraged to read about “The Makings of a Good Report” below as it provides some general information that you may find useful.
To begin with, and possibly the most obvious, is that Reports and subsequent postings are accessible to millions of people and the Reports may help warn other individual/consumers about prior bad acts, scams, rip-offs they have experienced. By writing Reports and other subsequent postings, consumers are educating other consumers.
Beyond that, Ripoff Report receives information requests from: the media (for help with stories); government agencies around the country (for help with investigations); from attorneys (for help with investigations regarding particular cases), and victims who are trying to learn more about other people's experiences. This is why it is always encouraged that you opt in for communications from us or others…because you never know when you will be in a position to help someone out and/or when someone else will be in a position to help you with your personal experience.
AN HONEST STATEMENT WITH FACTS. An honest story that is based upon facts, that complies with our Terms of Service, makes for a good Report. Any Report or subsequent posting to a Report should be an honest and factual story. Using detailed information such as names, times, places will help paint a clear picture and you should be able to back up your story with evidence (witnesses statements, pictures, documents, etc.) even if you don't post that information with the Report…although adding such documents may lend more credibility than just explaining the story and it is encouraged.
VOID OF EMOTION. We know that if you have turned to Ripoff Report to tell your story about a situation gone bad, you are probably upset. Maybe justifiably very upset. However, a Report or subsequent posting filled with nothing but word vomit fueled by negative emotion is not helpful to other readers nor is it necessarily going to be perceived as respectable or legitimate. For example, saying “Joe Schmoe's company sucks and should be avoided” is neither informative nor respectable. Yes, everyone can tell that you are mad if you write something like that, but no one knows what caused you to be mad. There are a lot of colorful words in the dictionary, however, using the more “publicly appropriate” ones will likely lend more credibility to your Report. Remember, the audience isn’t necessarily just adults.
PROPERLY CHOSEN WORDS. While we are here for you to tell the world your personal story, in your own words (don't copy and paste other’s stories from other websites without prior permission – that could be considered copyright infringement), so as to warn others so they can make their own decision on whether or not they want to do business with the subject person or business, it is important to consider and chose your words wisely. True, opinions are protected free speech, however, far too many people mistake a statement of fact for being nothing more than opinion and then get into trouble later.
NOTE.Ripoff Report staff, including the Legal Department, cannot give you advice on what you should write and whether or not the content might be deemed harassment and/or defamatory. If you are considering submitting a Report to Ripoff Report, and you are unsure of the content, you are encouraged to speak with an attorney in your area who may be in a better position to assist you. If you do not have an attorney, your local State Bar Association may be able to point you in the right direction. Additionally, or alternatively, you may consider checking out the Ripoff Report Legal Directory™ to see if there are any attorneys that have advertised in your area. Keep in mind that Ripoff Report has not vetted any of the attorneys that may be advertising in the Legal Directory and therefore cannot attest or guarantee the quality of service you will receive or vouch for any statements/representations they may make in their advertisements. You should conduct your own research on any attorney/firm that you find to assist you, regardless of how you learn about them, to ensure they are an appropriate fit for you and your particular situation.
If we had even a single dollar for every time we are asked to remove a Report or subsequent posting, it's entirely possible that we would all be sitting on a beach, on our own private island, somewhere a lot more tropical than the lovely desert oasis here in Arizona! However, as enticing as that sounds, that is not what we do here so we keep on working the more traditional way. Here are the facts:
When it comes to material content and information written by someone other than Ripoff Report, we do not edit or otherwise alter that content. The author is the one that generates the title of the Reports and the content therein – so go ahead and speak your mind - within the guidelines of the Terms of Service of course. We want the information to be as raw, unedited, and straight from the source as possible. Assuming the author sticks to the guidelines, there should be nothing for Ripoff Report to have to edit/redact.
Ripoff Report will, however, make editorial adjustments, where needed, which could include updating a posting in a non-material way such as grammar or spelling if requested by an author, deleting repetitive information in the title that may be caused on accident by mechanical entry, and/or redacting information that is found to be in violation of our Terms of Service or otherwise against one of our policies. Similarly, Ripoff Report may also enter their own Editorial Comment that may explain a particular situation (such as information relating to redacted content or responding to people who try to put Ripoff Report on blast for some reason) but those kinds of editorial inclusions are very clearly marked so that they are not confused with the author's original content.
Since the Ripoff Report was started in 1998, our general policy has always remained the same - we don't remove Reports/postings in their entirety. We will not remove Reports even when they are claimed to contain defamatory statements. We will not remove Reports even if the original author asks us to do so. Also, contrary to what our critics would like to believe, we will NOT remove Reports for money.
Some people have criticized this policy as being unfair, but we strongly feel this policy is essential, fair, and far better than the alternative - rampant censorship. It is ultimately up to the user/author to do the right thing and police their own behavior; however, we do offer some general guidelines in the FAQs section called “The Makings of a Good Report.”
We have many reasons for our policy, but here are three of the most important ones:
For all of these reasons, and more, we will not agree to remove Reports and subsequent postings upon request; even if someone can show that a Report or subsequent posting is probably inaccurate. By having this policy, we take leverage away from companies who threaten or pressure a customer hoping to get them to retract a valid complaint.
If this seems unfair or unreasonable, consider this -- if someone sues you in court and makes outlandish claims that are completely false, you can fight the case and win and at the end a judgment will be entered in your favor proving that you were right and your accuser was wrong. However, the court clerk will NOT destroy the file or seal the records of the case simply because you won. Even when a lawsuit is shown to be 100% baseless, the documents remain part of a public record that is maintained for years or perhaps forever (trust us -- we KNOW about this from first-hand experience). In this situation, the remedy you are entitled to is a court order or judgment proving that you were right, not the destruction of public records about the case.
It's not impossible to be sued for a posting that has been made even if what you said is true. Similarly, Ripoff Report is not immune from the law and your information could be released if we receive a proper subpoena and the author fails to object to the same. Ripoff Report and its Legal Department are not able to provide you with any legal advice on what your options are or what you should do. If you have been sued you are encouraged to contact legal counsel, typically counsel that is well versed with online defamation claims, to learn more about your options and potential defenses to such claims.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What we are seeing is more and more companies abusing the legal system as a way of reputation management. Some businesses don't care about the truth – they only care about reputation management and consequently, they will file a lawsuit against the author of a particular posting just so that they can receive relief from the court that may ask for a particular posting to be removed – typically from the index of search engines and even sometimes from the website that the comment was posted to. Further, unless the case is pending in a state that has a favorable anti-SLAPP law, the author may have no recourse for such action against them. Not to say it's hopeless, it just makes it harder. Your independent legal counsel should be able to explain it to you.
Assuming the author told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (generally speaking and in theory) the content should not be removed. BUT, what happens when an author doesn't receive proper notification about the litigation or cannot otherwise afford to defend the matter? That can cause issues for the consumer and is a way of stifling free speech that may genuinely have social utility.
Ripoff Report has fought long and hard to against orders demanding removal of content, especially where the court order is based upon default because we know that there are genuine flaws in that system, e.g., the author didn't receive actual notice of the litigation, maybe they didn’t have the money to defend the litigation, or maybe they were bullied into entering into an agreement to allow a default order so they could make it all “go away.” True, there is valid argument the other side of the coin - where some people/businesses are victims of defamation – and that’s not cool either, but there has to be a proper balance struck. Bullies, on either side of the coin, shouldn’t get away with being a bully.
SPEAK FREE Act of 2015: Currently, at least as of 2016, this is an area and topic of hot legal debate. Free speech supporters are fighting for the implementation of a federal anti-SLAPP law. Currently, H.R. 2304 – SPEACK FREE Act of 2015, is being advocated for and if you support the same you are encouraged to contact your locate representatives and speak your mind about this initiative. You can learn more about this Bill by visiting the following government URL: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2304 This is your future and the future of generations to come…become involved and speak up. Your speech depends on it!
When stories come in that are perceived to be timely and ripe for consumers based upon topic or of particular interest to the EDitor at Ripoff Report, such Report may be featured on the main homepage of the website. To be eligible for consideration, your story needs to fit the following criteria:
AFTER you have submit your Report, and the Report has made it through the review process and has been posted to the website (which can take a few hours or longer if there are concerns about the content), submit your Report and image via e-mail to email@example.com. The e-mail subject box should be titled as follows: “FRONT PAGE | REPORT SUBMISSION RE: NAME OF BUSINESS/INDIVIDUAL.”
First, calm down. We understand that you are probably upset (maybe justifiably very upset) but the first thing you need to realize is that we here at Ripoff Report did not write the content…so being angry at us is placing blame and directing your frustration in the wrong direction. We are seriously just the middle man who in all likelihood have no idea who any of the parties are or what the situation is even about. Writing to any of our departments freaking out, being belligerent, and/or making demands that are not sound in law (yes, we are talking to you attorneys that are trying to help clients without reviewing the law first…check out our Legal Issues page) is not going to help you one bit. Similarly, sending hourly or daily “follow up” e-mails” will not help you; if anything it only delays our review of your initial e-mail. That being said, if you need to write to any of our departments, please, BE KIND and understand we aren't a machine that will spit out a response in a few hours. While we are large online, we are limited in staff, and we get back logged from time to time. Patience is a virtue and we will do our best to get to your request as soon as possible. Similarly, we are actually happy to help you the best we can, without giving you legal advice, but respect begets respect.
There is no doubt that any site that allows people to post freely about their experiences will end up being considered controversial by some. Sometimes certain individuals and companies that are the subject of these Reports will get very angry and/or ask us to remove the Report because the information contained in the Report, while maybe true, is bad for their business. We feel that true and accurate Reports are socially useful. This is especially true when they are outing some unscrupulous business! Sometimes, they are upset because the content of the Report is alleged to be false and/or defamatory. Unfortunately, we receive thousands of reports and therefore have no effective way of fact checking in order to determine what is true or false. As such, Ripoff Report makes all authors attest that the information is true and has a general policy of not removing Reports in their entirety because we don't want bad businesses getting away with bullying people into removing postings. Our policy can be viewed on our website by clicking HERE.
Because of the issues that can be associated with Reports, we have developed multiple options to help suit the needs of individuals and businesses.
The following are incredibly important tips for writing our Customer Service and Support Department:
Our paid Programs & Services can be found on the Programs & Services tab located in the menu at the top of each webpage on our website. To the extent the Program is a Ripoff Report Verified™ status program, you are encouraged to read what that means for businesses and consumers. However, we have FREE options as well. Currently we offer the following:
Often times a business or individual that has a Report posted about them, or perhaps someone or a business with the same or similar name (it does happen) will later post a free Rebuttal explaining the situation. Yes, you read that right, FREE. We allow people to post negative and positive comments on Reports. This allows for the company to explain their side of the story (that the matter has been resolved; that it's not a former customer; that it’s a disgruntled ex-employee; that it is a vindictive ex-wife or ex-business partner, at their similarly named business is not the one being complained about in the Report, etc.) and/or allow for other consumers to come in and write comments about their positive experiences. This includes the ability to upload documentation that helps prove the point trying to be made, such as a receipt, or pictures of damaged goods, or a screenshot of a corporate record, etc. In some cases, the Author will resolve matters with the businesses or individual they originally wrote the Report about and they can file an Update to discuss how the matter was resolved to their satisfaction. This promotes transparency!
This Program gives the Complainant (the party the Report was written about) the opportunity to have a neutral third party (the arbitrator) review the Report and their documents and statements in support of their Statement about how each statement is false. Those facts that are found to be false by the arbitrator will be redacted (removed) from the Report. This does not mean, however, that the entire report will be removed. Whatever remaining truthful statements, statements that were not found to be false by the arbitrator, statements that were not challenged in the arbitration, or opinions, will typically remain on the website unless the arbitrator feels, in their sole discretion, that the Report content has abused our Terms of Service. This program, however, is not free. We have a panel of highly skilled professional arbitrators who do not work for free, and as such, we cannot offer the program for free. This program is currently open to any person or business that has been written about on our site. Because we are not in a position to determine the validity of Reports posted on our website, we believe that this program helps those individuals and companies' correct false statements that are posted about them in the Report thereby helping a company maintain their online reputation. We also believe that this program can be useful when a party wants to bring legal claims against an author, however, has run into a Statute of Limitations problem in their jurisdiction. To learn more specific information about the VIP Arbitration Program, including requirements and benefits associated with the same, review information located under the Programs & Services tab from the main menu bar at the top of the webpage.
This Program is being offered to businesses that do not already have complaints about them on our website. This is a “customer excellence” type program wherein a company can join the Program obtain all of the benefits that are associated with obtaining the status of Ripoff Report Verified™, be advertised on our website as a company that is committed to consumer excellence. To learn more specific information about the Ripoff Report Guardian+™ Program, including requirements and benefits associated with the same, review the information located under the Programs & Services tab from the main menu bar at the top of the webpage.
This Program is designed with those individuals and/or businesses that currently have Reports on our website, want long term monitoring for future Reports, and the opportunity to satisfy their customer. This program requires the same commitment to customer satisfaction that is required of any business that receives the status of Ripoff Report Verified™. Ripoff Report requires that the business take care of complaints on Ripoff Report from PAST and any new ones in the future. To learn more specific information about the Corporate Advocacy Program, including requirements and benefits associated with the same, review information located under the Programs & Services tab from the main menu bar at the top of the webpage.
If for some reason you believe that a particular Report is such that you want to take legal action against the subject Author(s) for whatever content is posted, then you may well be well within your legal rights to do so. Keep in mind you can't sue Ripoff Report for postings that were not created by us. Yes, it’s the law. Yes we, along with countless similar companies, have litigated this matter before. People need to place blame for bad actors where blame is due – and we didn’t do it!
LEGAL ISSUES: For more information relating to legal issues such as subpoenas, Ripoff Report's Court Order Policy, copyright notices, law explaining why Ripoff Report is immune from most legal claims involving third-party content, etc., please review the information on the Legal Issues page which is a dropdown located under the Help & FAQs tab from the main menu bar at the top of the website.
The Better Business Bureau (“BBB”) is another avenue that many consumers will turn to in an effort to seek possible satisfaction of your grievance. As we understand it, with the BBB, a business that is the subject of a complaint merely has to respond to the complaint in order to “satisfy” the complaint…most of the time. Unless they have changed their ways (which is entirely possible so you should check) you likely won't be told about past satisfied or unsatisfied complaints about a company. So, if you check on a company that has “satisfied” all of their complaints, they may tell you that, “they have a satisfactory rating.” You will not necessarily know that particular business’s track record.
With the Bad Business Bureau's Ripoff Report, we believe that we operate in a more transparent and consumer oriented way. We keep track of “bad businesses.” Unlike the BBB, all of your postings can be made public to millions. In most cases, you can track and see the record of the company’s past on Ripoff Report which makes Ripoff Report an important resource to help keep you informed of those you deal with.
While Ripoff Report is large online we really are relatively small in staff in comparison. As such, we are always grateful to those who wish to donate to help further our forward thinking initiatives and help keep our website alive for use by the public. To learn more about what our donations may be used on please visit our Donations Page.
Ripoff Report receives a high volume of Reports and subsequent postings every day. There is absolutely no way that we can sift through and try to filter out whether or not someone is telling the truth or otherwise posting accurate and the most current information. You all know how long it can take a court case to work through and determine even the most simple set of facts…and even then the outcome may not necessarily be the best decision, right? We are not getting involved in the “he said, she said” mix. We ask that all individuals are truthful and honest in reporting their experiences and we like to believe that people will follow the rules. At the same time, just like speed limit signs, there are always going to be those that see rules as a challenge or a mere suggestion; but we aren't the police. It is up to you all to DO THE RIGHT THING.
Ripoff Report is a non-substantiated source of information and the information provided in the Reports and subsequent postings are the sole creations of consumers for the general public. As outlined in the Terms of Service, Ripoff Report makes ZERO representations and warranties about the accuracy or usefulness of any of the information that is posted by third-parties. By viewing this site you agree that you will not hold Ripoff Report and/or any of its owners, employees, contractors or related entities responsible for any information contained herein. It is entirely up to you to do your own research and verify any claims that are made on this website. It is always important that you, after conducting your own research from multiple sources, make your own decisions about companies and individuals named in any Report or subsequent posting. Bottom line: DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Last Updated: 11/13/2016