Go beyond your word versus theirs! Arbitrate!
Ripoff Report does not have the capability to investigate the accuracy of Reports and related Comments that come in about a person and/or business. As such, we’ve always allowed parties to post, for free, Rebuttal Comments to any Report - to give parties the opportunity to “set the record straight” for themselves. Often a well worded response can go a long way towards dispelling exaggerated or otherwise untruthful content.
We understand, however, that sometimes people want more – the ability to have a neutral third-party look at the content, review related evidence, and make a determination about the accuracy or truthfulness of a post. For this reason, we developed the VIP Arbitration Program.
The specifics of Program are outlined in the VIP Arbitration Rules, however, the following is a basic outline of the process.
Because our professional arbitrators and staff do not work for free (we keep trying but it turns out they can’t pay their bills in hugs and well wishes) we do have to charge a fee. However, we believe the fees outlined below to be fair and far cheaper than what it would cost to hire an attorney and go through a formal legal action.
Costs associated with the VIP Arbitration Program are as follows:
It is important that you read all the documents, including and especially the VIP Arbitration Rules, prior to commencing the Arbitration.
Complainant Documents (party who the Report is written about)
Author Documents(party that wrote a Report or Comment thereto)
The Arbitration Department is a lot like a clerk of a court. The Arbitration Administrator can be reached by emailing [email protected] and can help you with any of the following:
Q: What does VIP stand for?
A: VIP stands for Voluntary, Impartial, and Private.
Q: What if I am the original author of a Report or Comment thereto and I want to remove it or make changes? Can I accomplish this through the VIP Arbitration Program?
A: The simple answer is NO. As indicated throughout our website, the record created by an original author is a permanent record. In fact, it has been Ripoff Report's long-standing general policy to not remove posts. The VIP Arbitration Program is designed with the individual and/or business in mind; that is the individual and/or business that has had a statement written about them. Accordingly, original authors cannot challenge the statements made in their own Reports. However, an original author can write an Update, which is free, to their original Report indicating that the matter has been resolved, that they made a mistake when writing the original Report, etc. Any individual who reviews the original Report will be able to see this update.
Q: What types of Reports/statements can be arbitrated?
A: As explained in the Program Rules, only factual statements can be arbitrated. To state this another way, because opinions (i.e., he is an awful person) cannot be proven to be either true or false, we do NOT permit arbitration of statements which are purely opinions. For this reason, if the Arbitrator determines that a statement constitutes a matter of opinion, not fact, the Arbitrator will NOT issue a decision on the matter. Please keep this rule in mind when you are considering whether to submit a Report to our arbitration process. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Program Rules do provide leeway for the Arbitrator, within their sole discretion, to review statements made in a Report against our current Terms of Service and to suggest redactions of statements that they perceive, based upon a totality of the circumstances and evidence presented, to be in violation of those Terms of Service.
Q: If the Arbitrator rules in my favor, will the entire Report be removed?
A: NO. Even if the Arbitrator determines that a Report contains one or more false statements of fact, this does not mean the whole Report will be removed. Instead, any Report and associated Comment thereto found to be “substantially false” by the Arbitrator will be redacted and replaced with an Editorial comment regarding the VIP Arbitration Program and a summary of the Arbitrator’s Decision. The individual’s name and/or company name will remain in the title and a URL to the Report will continue to exist.
Q: How can I get a Report de-indexed from Internet search results?
A: De-indexing measures may be taken after a Report and related Comment(s), if any, have been through the VIP Arbitration Program and the subject content, when taken together as a whole, has been found to be “substantially false” by the Arbitrator. Pursuant to the VIP Arbitration Rules, a Report found to be “substantially false” by the Arbitrator is eligible for de-indexing. Once the Arbitration Decision is received from the Arbitrator, the Arbitration Administrator will provide you with information about the Arbitrator’s Decision and additional information about further related options, including de-indexing, if applicable.
Q: How long does the process take to complete?
A: It depends on whether the author chooses to respond - if the author does not respond, the process will usually be completed in about 30 days. If the author does respond, the process will take about 45-60 days or perhaps a little longer.
Q: Are the Arbitrators really neutral? What role does Ripoff Report play in the arbitration process?
A: Ripoff Report has contracted with two professional Arbitrators to hear and decide cases under our program. Our current panel consists of retired Appellate Court Judge who was a former chair of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution and the State Bar of Arizona Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, while the other has extensive experience in intellectual property, joint development, computer law, and technical data rights.
Ripoff Report transmits information between the parties and the Arbitrator. We play no role whatsoever in the decision-making process. All decisions are made solely by the Arbitrator, and those decisions are based solely on the evidence submitted by the parties.
Q: If I want to obtain the author's real identity, can I get that through arbitration?
A: NO. Although an author can choose to voluntarily provide you with their real name during the arbitration process, this is not mandatory. If you would like to obtain the name of an anonymous author from us, you can do so without participating in the arbitration program. For more information on how to obtain this information please view the Subpoena Process information on the Legal Issues page.
Q: What if the author provides a fake or non-working e-mail address and they can't be contacted for arbitration? Can I still proceed with the arbitration?
A: Yes. Pursuant to the Program Rules, if the e-mail address that the author provided to Ripoff Report does not work when the Administrator sends the e-mail inviting the author to participate in the Arbitration, the author will be deemed to have waived his/her right to participate in the Arbitration. This does not, however, mean that the Arbitrator will automatically enter a Decision in your favor. You still have to prove the statements that you are challenging are, in fact, false.
Q: If I agree to arbitration and if the Arbitrator rules in my favor, will Ripoff Report stop the author from re-posting the same complaint on Ripoff Report later?
A: Yes. While the VIP Arbitration Program does not have a monitoring component benefit, as explained in the Program Rules, if you prevail in arbitration, and you bring it to our attention, we will address any future postings by the same author that is identical to, or contains similar allegations to, the statement about the Complainant that was previously determined by the Arbitrator to be false.
Parties looking for a monitoring component that would alert them to any new Report(s) that come in about them should review the Personal Name Monitoring (PNM) and Business Name Monitoring (BNM) programs.
Q: I think the person who wrote the Report about me is a competitor, not a real customer, but the Report sounds like it's mostly just opinions, not facts. I know that only factual statements can be arbitrated, but what about if the author is not a real customer? Can I dispute the identity of the author?
A: Yes. If you believe a Report was not written by a real customer, you can submit the Report to arbitration even if the author's status as a customer is the only matter in dispute and even if the Report appears to contain only opinions rather than facts. As explained in the Program Rules, if you challenge the "role of the author" (meaning you don't believe the author is a real customer of yours), the Arbitrator can make a ruling on that issue and if the Arbitrator finds that the Report was not written by a real customer.
Q: Why isn't the VIP Arbitration Program free?
A: First of all, Ripoff Report is a free website that charges nothing to users who want to post Reports, and if you have been the subject of a negative Report, we do offer a free alternative. We charge nothing whatsoever to anyone who wishes to submit a comment/response/rebuttal to a Report, including uploading documents/images in support of that response/Rebuttal. Many people contact us and state that they have "overwhelming evidence" that proves a Report is false. If that's the case, we always permit companies or individuals to submit a free Rebuttal (including posting copies of any evidence that supports their story). If the evidence is so simple and compelling, then a FREE REBUTTAL should be all that is needed to set the record straight. (See the RESPOND rebuttal box at the end of the specific Ripoff Report you wish to comment on). Every company receives complaints, but how they handle those complaints separates good business from bad business.
However, some people have said the free rebuttal option isn't enough. We created the arbitration program to provide them with another alternative. We understand that many people feel the arbitration program should be free or that at least it should cost less than the current starting fee ($2,000.00). Unfortunately, this simply is not realistic given the amount of time and work involved. Contrary to what you may think, each arbitration case takes many hours of time to administer, and the Arbitrators who decide each case are highly skilled professionals who do not work for free. Individuals with the legal skills, training, and experience to act as Arbitrators often charge up to $500+/hr. or more for their time, and regardless of how much time our Arbitrators spend on a particular case, they have agreed to accept a flat-fee for their services. Given that a typical lawsuit can cost $100,000+ and many years to resolve, we feel the costs associated with the program is more than reasonable and fair.
NOTE: For legal reasons, Ripoff Report staff cannot respond to questions about whether or not arbitration, or any of our other programs, is the best option for your particular situation. Any such questions should be submitted to a local attorney in your area who can advise you of your options.
NOTE: The arbitration e-mail address ( [email protected]) is only to be used for requesting information about our arbitration program and is NOT for other inquiries such as debating the accuracy of a Report or for asking that the Report be removed. Due to the volume of email we receive, arguments about the accuracy of a Report or removal requests which are sent to that address will not be reviewed and will not be responded to.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: If you have more than two (2) Reports, or are interested in additional benefits, including a monitoring and future Report hold component, you may want to consider the Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Program (also known as “Corporate Advocacy Program” or “CAP” for short). Any questions relating to CAP should be directed to [email protected].
Last Updated: 7/1/2020