n Izmir, a company wanted to respond to complaints about them on a consumer complaint website.When they applied to the website to make their defense, they learned that there was a mandatory monthly fee requirement. In response to this, they took the matter to court. Although the company had two favorable expert reports, Ankara Commercial Court ruled in favor of the website.
The case was then sent to the Court of Cassation. The Court of Cassation’s 11th Civil Chamber made a potentially groundbreaking decision by ruling in favor of the company. They emphasized that, just like complaining consumers, companies also have the freedom to defend themselves. The court accepted expert reports and documents as sufficient evidence. This decision is considered good news for many brands and companies. The company’s lawyer, Ayşegül Zengin, provided the following information about the legal process:
“Some websites allow consumers to write complaints about products and services they have purchased without disclosing their personal information. However, these websites required companies to become members to access complaints written by consumers, respond, defend themselves, provide information about the issue, and even learn who the consumer is, thus creating an obligation for companies to pay a fee. This situation created unfair competition between companies that paid for membership and those that did not.
This practice violated the principle of fairness. In today’s age, the internet and social media are of great importance for advertising and reputation management for companies. While we fully support the freedom of expression and complaint for consumers, presenting this freedom as a threat to companies and forcing them to pay a fee to protect their reputation is an abuse of this right. This situation not only affects companies but also threatens consumers’ freedom to seek their rights. With the ruling of the Court of Cassation’s 11th Civil Chamber, this violation of the law has been identified.”
by Banu Şen, Hürriyet Izmir