SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT | ARBITRATION PROGRAM
Because Ripoff Report has never had the internal resources to investigate a report that a business claims is false, it has always permitted the subject of the report to file its own, free Rebuttal. But some of you feel that is not enough. You have asked for more. You want the ability to prove it is false. You want an independent investigation. Perhaps most importantly, you want the false statements about you and/or your business removed. We developed the VIP Arbitration program in response to phone calls and emails from people and businesses like you -- those who have worked hard to create a good reputation and are having that reputation unjustly tarnished because of a false posting on Ripoff Report.
We have contracted with private Arbitrators who have extensive experience, including experienced judges in court. You submit a written Arbitration Statement identifying the false statements in the report, or explaining that the report was posted by a competitor pretending to be a customer. You are also given the opportunity to support your position with documented evidence and/or sworn affidavits. Those statements of fact, that are found to be false by the Arbitrator, will be redacted (removed) from the initial report.
Generally speaking, if there are 1 or 2 Ripoff Reports about you or your company, this program may be right for you.
How the VIP Arbitration Process Works
As explained in the Program Rules, the process begins when you provide Ripoff Report with three things: 1.) a signed copy of the Arbitration Agreement; 2.) a complete copy of your Arbitration Statement including any and all supporting evidence, such as documents or Witness Statements (subject to limitations which are discussed in detail in the Program Rules) you want the Arbitrator to review; and 3.) a check for the $2,000 arbitration fee. No arbitration matter will begin until we receive all of these things.
The person who requests arbitration always has the burden of proof which means that if you claim something in a report about you or your business is false, YOU must offer evidence that proves this. If you fail to provide evidence to support your position, it is very likely that the Arbitrator will find that you have failed to meet your burden of proof. This is true even if the author does not respond.
What evidence is required? That depends on the nature of the statement(s) you want to challenge. For example, if a report said that your business failed to pay a debt, you may choose to submit evidence showing the debt was paid (i.e., a cancelled check, payment receipt, etc.). If a report said that your business failed to deliver a product to a customer, you may choose to submit proof that the item was delivered (shipping receipt, etc.) If you don't have any documents to support your position, that's okay - you can still provide a witness statement on the provided form explaining your side of the story. Statements from witnesses (including yourself) qualify as "evidence" in our arbitration program as long as the statement is in the proper form of a declaration and shows that the witness has personal knowledge of the events or facts discussed in their statement. Statements which fail to explain how the witness has personal knowledge of the issues may be given little or no weight by the Arbitrator, so please keep this in mind.
Once we receive your completed Arbitration Statement and evidence, including the signed Arbitration Agreement and payment of the program fee (for the arbitrator's services and costs associated with processing the program), we will forward your Arbitration Statement and evidence to the author of the report. This is done confidentially and unless the author chooses to identify themselves, you will not be provided with the author's name or contact information. For more information on how to obtain author information, please click HERE.
Once we provide your Arbitration Statement and evidence to the author, the author is given 20 days to respond. The arbitration Program Rules do not require the author to respond, and even if no response is received, the Arbitrator will NOT automatically rule in your favor. Every case is decided by the Arbitrator based solely on the evidence received. If the author does provide a response, we will forward this to you and you will then have an additional 14 days to offer any final comments or evidence.
Once we receive your final submission, or if 14 days have passed and no final submission is provided, we will send the Arbitrator copies of all information provided by both sides. The Arbitrator will then review all material provided and issue a written decision within 14 days.
As explained in the Program Rules, if the Arbitrator finds that any factual statement contained in a report is false, that factual statement will be redacted (removed) from the report, and the title of the report will be updated to state that the matter has been submitted to our arbitration program. This does not mean, however, that the entire report will be removed. Whatever remaining truthful statements, statements that were not found to be false by the arbitrator, statements that were not challenged in the arbitration, or statements of opinion, will remain on the website. Please review the arbitration Program Rules for more information about the specific way that reports will be updated.
Frequently Asked Questions About the VIP Arbitration Program
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 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 policy for well over a decade to not remove posts. Information relating to this policy can be reviewed by clicking HERE. 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 Rule 22 of 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.
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 false factual statements will be redacted (removed) from the report, but the report page itself will not be removed, nor will the page URL be changed. If you are unsure of what this means, please do a search on Ripoff Report's website for the word "arbitrator" and you should see several reports which have been submitted to the arbitration program. This will give you a basic idea of what reports look like after arbitration.
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:
- Hon. Bruce Meyerson (retired); his website is: www.BruceMeyerson.com; and
- Sandra Franklin; her website is: www.TechnologyADR.com
If you would like more information about the background and qualifications of these Arbitrators, please feel free to visit their websites. As for Ripoff Report, we transmit information between the parties and the Arbitrator, but 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 click HERE.
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 Rule 9 of 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 of fact 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. As explained in Rule 26 of the Program Rules, if you prevail in arbitration, we will NOT permit any future postings by the same author that is identical to or contains similar allegations to the statement about the Complainant as any statement determined by the Arbitrator to be false.
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 Rule 19(c) of 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, the report title will be updated to reflect that determination.
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 free alternatives. We charge nothing whatsoever to anyone who wishes to submit response/rebuttal to a report, including uploading documents 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 fee ($2,000). 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 cost of the program is more than reasonable and fair.
Yes, I Am Interested in the VIP Arbitration Program!
You have read the information about the VIP Arbitration Program, how it works and the Program Rules, and now you want to get started. In order to obtain all of the documents that you need, please download (and review) each of the following documents:
- Program Rules (.pdf document)
- Arbitration Agreement (.pdf document)
- Complainant's Arbitration Statement (in Microsoft Word format)
- Witness Statement (in Microsoft Word format)
Please read the Program Rules very carefully BEFORE you go about preparing your VIP Arbitration Program Complainant's Arbitration Statement. Once prepared you will need to return the executed VIP Arbitration Program Arbitration Agreement, the Complainant's Arbitration Statement and supporting evidence (documents and/or witness statement(s)), along with your check in the amount of $2,000 payable to Xcentric Ventures, LLC.
Other Important Information
If you have any other questions about how our VIP Arbitration Program works, please review the Program Rules which explain the program in more detail. For questions outside of the information contained above or within the Program Rules, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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@example.com) 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.
If you have more than 2 Reports, and you are a business, you may also want to take a look at another program we have. Corporate Advocacy Program (CAP).
Businesses that want to make a real difference should read about the very successful, groundbreaking and innovative program that benefits both businesses and consumers. This program is a way businesses can turn negatives into a positive. Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Customer Satisfaction Program is a program that benefits the consumer, assuring them of complete satisfaction and confidence when doing business with a member business. This kind of assurance will get the member business, more business. For more information on CAP please click HERE.
Any questions relating to CAP should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.