Delete negative Google reviews in Germany
Google guidelines for deleting and removing reviews
Bad reviews on Google have a strong influence on the success of a company. On Google, for example, it is possible to get information about a
- product or service,
- doctor or their practice,
- freelancer, or
- restaurant or hotel
in the shortest possible time and without major effort. It is just as easy to leave a review. To counteract unjustified negative reviews and to ensure a standard of quality, Google has created internal guidelines for submitting, deleting and removing reviews.
Google guidelines for reports and photos
Example deletion of Google review
Examples of prohibited negative online reviews
1. One-star rating with no review
One-star Google ratings with no review are basically allowed expressions of opinion.
This does not include cases where the reviewer is anonymous or is not known to you. The portal then has an obligation to check the factual basis of the rating (BGH ruling of 01/03/2016 – VI ZR 34/15)..
2. One-star rating with an untrue review
If the Google review is untrue or an opinion is based on false factual claims, it must also be deleted. Untrue factual claims violate your right of personality and you do not have to tolerate them.
3. One-star rating with an insulting review
Insulting reviews are to be removed by Google in accordance with the provisions of the GDPR. In addition, they also violate your right of personality and are vulnerable to legal action.
|ONE-STAR RATING WITH NO REVIEW||Allowed||Permission to express an opinion. Star ratings without a review are regarded as permitted, not defamatory comments.|
|ONE-STAR RATING WITH NO REVIEW – AUTHOR HAS NEVER BEEN A PATIENT, CUSTOMER OR CLIENT||Prohibited||Unauthorised expression of opinion, as there is no factual basis or reference point. The portal has an obligation to check the factual basis of a review, especially if it is submitted anonymously (BGH ruling of 01/03/2016 – VI ZR 34/15; Hamburg Regional Court ruling of 12/01/2018 – Ref. 324 O 63/17; Soehring, Presserecht (Press Law), 5th Edition Section 20 item 9b; for a contrasting opinion, Augsburg Regional Court ruling of 17/08/2017 – Ref. 022 O 560/17).|
|“There are fleas and mice in this hotel.”||Prohibited||Unauthorised untrue factual claim.|
|“The doctor’s just a creep.”||Prohibited||Prohibited expression of opinion. Insulting.|
|“It’s obvious to everyone that this company is bankrupt. Why do they take so long to deliver goods or refund money!?!?”||Prohibited||Unauthorised untrue factual claims.|
|“This doctor is a bully! I got the impression he just wanted the treatment to hurt.”||Prohibited||Unauthorised expression of opinion and indirect assertion of facts. The first statement is an insult (“bully”). After its removal, the remaining opinion is an indirect and untrue assertion (“… he wanted the treatment to hurt …”).|
|“I found my last employer rude and pushy. That’s why I felt out of place in the company and I don’t recommend it to anyone else.”||Allowed||Permission to express an opinion. Not insulting and not pure abusive criticism, as delivered with reference to the job.|
|“This mail order company is a pure fraud, I transferred everything to them and never got anything.”||Prohibited||Unauthorised untrue statement of facts and expression of opinion. First statement is an insult (“fraud”). The remaining assertion is untrue.|
|PUBLICATION OF A PHOTO under the TITLE “Pillory of Shame”||Prohibited||Prohibited expression of opinion. Right of personality takes precedence, as no added value for reporting (Munich Higher Regional Court “Pillory of shame” ruling against the Bild newspaper.|
|Statement: “This man is a bully doctor.”||Prohibited||Prohibited expression of opinion. The term “bully” is offensive (Pasewalk Local Court ruling of 20/05/2015 – Ref. 711 Js 1044/14) and insulting.|
These are the means of the lawyer
To proceed against a negative Google review, you can first take action yourself. If this is not successful, hire a specialist lawyer. These are the means available to us against negative reviews:
- a free consultation,
- a letter to Google,
- warning, and
- legal action.
1. Free check
First, we check free of charge whether the Google review violates the Google guidelines or your general right of personality. Only if these conditions are met do we take action against Google. If the requirements are not met, you will not incur any costs. We will contact you with our result.
Most of the time, we recommend a notice-and-take-down letter against Google. However, there may be cases where it is better to respond to the review in a friendly manner and explain your view of the situation, or, at the other extreme, to take the matter directly to court
2. Letter to Google
If we take action against Google for you on request, we will write a notice-and-take-down letter. The purpose of this letter is to alert Google that a negative and illegal review has been posted, and to explain why this review must be deleted. In so doing, we cite BGH case law. In the “Blogspot” ruling, the court had established criteria according to which portals are obliged to delete reviews that violate the general right of personality.
In most cases, Google forwards our notice-and-take-down letter to the reviewer. If they do not answer or cannot refute our statement, Google will usually remove the review.
2. Letter to Google
In our letter, we set Google a deadline of three weeks to delete the review. If Google does not respond or if our request to delete the review is rejected, we will contact Google again. In this second letter, we remind Google to comply with the Blogspot criteria and indicate the possible legal consequences of non-compliance. This usually applies additional legal pressure.
4. Legal action
If the review is not deleted even after the warning, we can take legal action on request. For this purpose, a renewed consultation with one of our lawyers will be arranged. They will advise you on the chances of the legal action being successful, the costs and the proceedings themselves. Should you decide to take legal action after the consultation, we will strive to obtain a ruling for you in court. There is the option of suing for removal or refraining, or also for damages. It should be noted, however, that compensation can only be claimed if the damage is precisely quantified. This is often not the case for loss of assets due to damage to reputation.
4. Legal action
Deletion and removal process
How long does it take to get a Google review deleted?
Costs of deleting a Google review
The deletion of a negative Google review results in the following costs:
|DESCRIPTION||COSTS (NET AMOUNTS)|
|Costs of extrajudicial letter||Creation of an individual legal notice-and-take-down letter.||Flat rate: €179|
|Costs of multiple assessments||Permanent client regulation.||From the second assessment: €174|
From the 10th assessment: €169
|Costs of any legal action against Google or any judicial or out-of-court action against the author||Further action to enforce deletion against Google in difficult cases, or judicial or out-of-court proceedings.||Fees in accordance with the German Act on the Remuneration of Lawyers (RVG), activity and due date only after consultation and clarification of costs (price transparency)|
Discount for permanent clients
Many clients are repeatedly affected by poor reviews. We therefore offer discounts to our regular clients:
- starting from the second deletion of a review, each deletion costs €174.00
- from 10 negative reviews on, our permanent clients receive a discounted fixed price of €169.00 per deletion; this offer is not limited in time or number of reviews.
Tailored offer for a particularly high number of reviews
We often work for clients with a particularly high number of reviews, including:
- public facilities (swimming pools, libraries),
- telephone companies,
- restaurant chains,
- energy suppliers,
- retailers, and
We would be happy to make you a tailored offer when you want to take action against more than 50 reviews – write to us at.
High cost savings through fixed price
An out-of-court action against Google consisting of a lawyer’s notice-and-take-down letter at a flat fixed price means considerable savings compared to the usual payment in accordance with the RVG. These would be
- legal fees of €492.54 for a sum in dispute of up to €5,000 (applies in most cases with a usual 1.3 fee) or
- legal fees of €887.03 for a disputed value up to €10,000 (rarer, negative Google review of a business by another business, with a usual 1.3 fee).
In the case of an hourly rate often used by lawyers, even higher costs can arise.
We will only start work after discussing the matter and clarifying costs with you.
Fixed price and no further costs in accordance with the RVG
Our legal fee is a one-off fixed amount that excludes further costs in accordance with the RVG: due to our concentration on corporate law and the waiver of all other cases, we can offer our clients a transparent and relatively low fixed fee.
If the author of a negative Google review is known, an action can be brought against them for reimbursement of the costs you incurred. You have a right to deletion of the Google review (injunction) and also a claim for damages. In principle, this includes legal fees.
In the event of legal proceedings, the plaintiff or defendant usually bears the costs (court costs and legal fees).
This is how we take action against Google for you:
- we draw up a tailored legal notice-and-take-down letter to delete a negative Google review,
- we take receipt of the letter from Google,
- we monitor the deletion in the two months following the date of the letter, and
- we develop a judicial or out-of-court follow-up strategy against Google, or
- against the author of the negative Google review in the event of failure to delete it.
Approach in the event of non-deletion
Illegal Google reviews are often deleted after the initial legal letter. Google reviews a well-founded legal letter with due diligence to avoid incurring further legal fees. In difficult cases, further enforcement of the deletion may become necessary. This can be done by means of legal action against Google or a claim against the author of the negative review.
In such cases, the fees are in accordance with the provisions of the RVG. We will only start work after discussing the matter and clarifying costs with you.