What is Ripoff Report?
Ripoff Report is one of the most contentious websites on the internet. Wikipedia provides a good overview:
Ripoff report admits that it publishes false information and will not remove it even if the author requests. Of course if the subject of the post is an important person at Google the material on Ripoff Report seems to disappear (link to blog post).
Because it is given a high page rank in the Google SERPs many companies pay the exorbitant fees to participate in the corporate advocacy program. This cost schedule was entered into evidence in a recent US court case:
The Ripoff Report editor admitted in a deposition he passes on details of people who post complaints to the companies and people about whom they complain. Registering on the website is very risky. In my case they actually constructed defamatory urls from my name.
An Arizona private detective has found evidence of other money generating endeavours by the editor of ripoff report and his cronies. It appears that they are offering to provide lists of consumers to attorneys for class action lawsuits.
Can companies ‘verified safe’ by Ripoff Ripoff Report be trusted by consumers?
It appears that the companies that have paid Ripoff Report to be ‘verified safe’ were indicted, prosecuted and listed as defendants in class action cases. This company has almost 400 ‘reports’ with the Ripoff report endorsement.
Yet, while it was apparently verified safe this company was hauled into court by the ACCC for failing to honour an undertaking from a previous prosecution for breaching the Trade Practices Act:
This company was also faced with class actions suits in the US while it was apparently ‘verified safe’.
Other companies have been the subject of class actions while Ripoff Report was promising consumers that it was (paid) verified safe
Ripoff Report provided its paid ‘verified safe’ to the company Bankcard Empire – at least until the company owner was indicted for fraud.
Yet another company previously ‘verified safe’ by Ripoff Report is indicted:
Ripoff report suspended the company from its Corporate Advocacy Program on July 8th 2011 but this was more than a month after charges were filed by the FTC and the Sate of Colorado.
The company is charged with “defrauding consumers, in some cases out of thousands of dollars, with phony claims that they could make large amounts of money quickly and easily.”
This is the link to the legal case
Ripoff Report: Reviews
Damage caused by Ripoff Report
As mentioned elsewhere on this blog the damage that this website causes is significant:
Small business owners and individuals have posted about their experiences with this website (including the attempts to obtain payment) on their websites, blogs and news groups.
Legal Action against Ripoff Report
The website has been sued many times in the US but wins because it is protected under the CDA:
Ripoff Report is very litigious (draft 16/10/11)