Say that you are extremely proud of your business. Its products are top-notch, and the customer service is impeccable. On the other hand, your competitor down the street seems to get most of the customers. So, you decide it is time to explain in an online ad or review just how terrible some of your competitor’s practices are.
Could that move get you sued? Yes, it could.
What type of business is your competitor?
One thing to be aware of is that you could have followed the law to a T in an ad, for example, by having a third party verify any claims you made, and still face litigation. Some companies are just aggressive, and if they have deep pockets, they may perceive that they have nothing to lose by suing a business with shallower pockets. The bottom line is that you may want to think twice about your advertising or reviewing strategies if your competitor is a big business. Could having to defend a lawsuit prove so costly and time-consuming that it hurts your business?
Did you confuse fact and opinion?
Sometimes, people are too close to their own experiences and may mix fact and opinion. In other words, something you see as a fact about your competitor may actually be an opinion. That gets problematic when you then go on to publicize that opinion as a fact. If you write something such as a blog post or online review, you must be careful to make clear the sections that are your opinion.
Did you change your competitor’s logo or trademark?
Images attract attention, so you may be thinking about making a small change to your competitor’s logo that reflects the sentiment of your ad or post. However, doing so is manipulation and violates advertising laws.
Did you exaggerate?
It is natural to exaggerate a truth and to assume customers will understand the exaggeration for what it is. However, an online ad or a review about a competitor is not the place to do so. Stick with facts that have been verified by a third party.