In the age of the Internet, with sites like Yelp often being the first stop for anybody looking for a service (say, photography) they’ve never used before, it’s no surprise that pros are trying to keep their star ratings as high as possible.
What is surprising is the news that some photographers are keeping their reviews positive by threatening to sue anybody who writes something negative.
The allegations are laid out in an article by The Knot on Huffington Post. It seems some wedding photographers are starting to build clauses into their contract fine print that prevent clients from posting negative reviews.
In some cases, reports The Knot, clients posting negative reviews online are being threatened with defamation lawsuits to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
Photographers have always taken advantage of (and sometimes been the victims of) word of mouth marketing. It’s why it’s so crucial that you always provide phenomenal service, because one bad review could mean a whole lot of headache. But to threaten to sue over a bad review — or in the case of one DJ, to fine clients $5,000 if they post anything less than a five-star review — seems outrageous.
As you might expect (or maybe hope), these contracts aren’t actually likely to hold up in a court of law. “Most courts want consumers to be able to freely give their opinions,” Boston attorney and Wedding-Lawyer blogger Ryan Bleek told The Knot. “Therefore, a contract that throws away that right would not be enforceable.” Plus, there are legal fees to consider.
Still, intimidation of this sort will only serve to give wedding photographers a bad name, which ultimately hurts the whole industry. For now, if you’re in the market for a wedding photographer, we suggest you read the fine print before you sign… you never know what’s in there.