How Does A Negative Amazon Review Result In Threats Of A Lawsuit?

From Consumerist:

Writing a product review on Amazon is usually a pretty mundane process: Pick a star rating, leave a few words, hit “submit,” and immediately forget about it. For one man, though, the process just got a whole lot more interesting (in the bad way). Eight months after a Florida man panned a product online, the company’s lawyer delivered a fresh new legal threat to his doorstep — retract the review, or face a libel suit.

This all began back in September 2013, when T. was helping a friend shop for a new router.

“I did what I always do,” he told Consumerist, which is to search for wireless routers on Amazon, and then filter by reviews and top sellers.

Medialink’s routers were front and center as he browsed.

“I was surprised to see two Medialink routers at the top of both lists,” he said, “a company I’ve never heard of [even though] I’ve bought and recommended plenty of routers over the years.”

At first he thought it sounded like a great product — cheap, efficient, and with glowing reviews. But something didn’t feel right. “Everything was a little too good to be true. Even products I love never have glowing reviews like this one,” T. said. So he took the sensible step of looking for reviews of the product outside of Amazon. Only… there weren’t any.

“I searched for reviews on other tech sites, and I couldn’t find a single reputable site that reviewed this router,” he said, “Which I thought was odd for such an obviously well-received router.”

Indeed, scouring the internet this week shows that the only high-traffic site mentioning the Medialink products at all is a Digital Trends list from June 2013 — and in a fit of circular logic, it immediately mentions the “5000 customer reviews on Amazon” as evidence of how great the router is.

While he was looking for reviews, T. also found a discussion onlineindicating that the guts of the Medialink router in question were the same as a less expensive router from a Chinese company, Tenda.

And so he wrote a one-star review of the Medialink product on Amazon, telling would-be buyers of his findings and suggesting that some of the five-star product reviews may be less than legitimate.

This week, almost eight months later, the company struck back. A lawyer representing Mediabridge Products, LLC (the same company as Medialink) sent T. a cease-and-desist letter, immediately demanding he take down his negative review or face a libel lawsuit.

Read more here.