“Let us work together to permanently gag Ed Magedson, the owner of RipOffReport.com,” these are just some of the words that are across the ‘Join The RipOffReport Revolt’, a Facebook group which was made to launch a major legal assault, resulting in the extermination of www.ripoffreport.com. Rip-Off Report (ROR), established in 1998, is a privately owned and legally recognized website where people over the age of fourteen can post un-moderated complaints, otherwise known as “reports”, which contain details of their experience with a specific company.
Once somebody posts a complaint about a company on the website it is permanent and the report can be found when using Google search, interfering with the company’s business by shading their name with a customer’s negative experience. Founder and advocator, Ed Magedson has built his empire of success around controversy for the past 15 years. The site’s terms of service says that all reports must be truthful and accurate, even though the site rarely confirms the accuracy of all submissions. Even though companies are aloud to respond to the reports as a way to clear the air with a customer, ROR can limit the number of responses from companies and can decline to publish them in certain cases. Because of this, some companies have sued ROR, believing that Magedson’s terms of service are unlawful.
Author of The Real Rip-Off Report, Sarah Fenske describes Magedson as relentless, “He’s the postmodern Colombo, a shambling figure who eventually gets his way not because he’s slick or charming, but because he wears people down. He is a nitpicker, a fighter, a squeaky wheel who’s mastered the art of getting grease.” He estimates that 98 per cent of the reported complaints are true and believes that if a business is getting complained about, they deserve it.
Fenske reports that nobody can force Magedson to remove even the most grotesque posts about a company. This means that a company has a weaker chance of having the law on their side, which could potentially hurt their business reputation. “When people stop suing me, and stop talking about me, and stop threatening me, that’s when I’ll have to worry,” says Magedson. According to the Phoenix New Times, as of 2007 companies are now able to pay Magedson in exchange for the site to act as a middleman for the company and the angry customer.
Attorney Dale Thorson believes that Magedson is very intelligent, “the kid is brilliant.” Magedson believes that the number of dishonest people in the world has nothing to do with his site, further stating that he is not obliged to take sides or judge who is lying and who is telling the truth. In the interview with Fenske, Magedson says that everyone is on the Internet and has been blogged about, “Right or wrong, good or bad, we’re all going to be blogged today. Um, if you’re not, your children definitely will be. And if they even mention something on some blog somewhere, your last name will come up when you’re doing a Google search.”
Rip-Off Report’s goal is to provide knowledge to costumers about specific companies and help keep them aware of bad business practices. Fenske states, “There’s one good reason the darker corners of the Internet are so nuts: because they can be.”
A few bad eggs can sometimes ruin the whole batch- and some may argue that having such a site out there can be very helpful but if the internet isn’t policed – such sites cannot only tarnish a person or business- it creates a possibility to make the wrong seem right and that is the true dilemma here!