What Really Happened Behind the Casper vs Sleepopolis Lawsuit?

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The chances are that you’ve heard of Casper before today.

One of the first companies in the world to introduce us to the magic of “bed in a box” mattresses, Casper has redefined the bedding industry as we know it. The brand created an environment where anyone could purchase an amazing mattress and have it delivered to their door, without any of the usual in-person hassles.

Unfortunately, not everyone loves Casper mattresses. Just like any product, there’s bound to be people who love Casper, and people who hate it – that’s the nature of commerce. Unfortunately, in today’s social world, sharing your thoughts and feelings online can sometimes lead to trouble. A case between mattress review company, Sleepopolis, and bedding brand Casper shows that the internet might not allow for as much “freedom of speech” as we once thought.

The Rising Importance of Online Reviews

woman holding a smartphoneThese days, if you’ve got an opinion to share, there’s sure to be someone online who’s interested in hearing it. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are proof that there’s a platform for everyone online. What’s more, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that customers consider reviews online before they make purchases.

For the most part, you’d probably think that the reviews you leave online won’t have much of an impact on the companies that you’re talking about. However, if you have a significant social presence, then that might not be the case.

Back when Derek Hales, a popular blogger, ran Sleepopolis, Hales published an article covering his review of a Casper mattress. According to Derek, he tried a number of different bedding options before finally settling on Casper. For a while, the relationship between Sleepopolis and Casper seemed great. That is until one day. The connection turned sour when Hales updated his review 18 months after publishing it.

According to the updated review, Hales no longer recommended Casper as a quality mattress choice for his customers. A yellow box at the top of the review page encouraged customers to consider an alternative brand instead. Unhappy with the change in the press, Casper launched a lawsuit against Sleepopolis, claiming that Hales was making slanderous claims against their company. Interestingly, Derek’s statement about Casper changed soon after the company refused to renew its affiliate relationships with a number of leading bloggers.

As various bloggers changed their stance on Casper, the mattress company started filing lawsuits left and right. Sleepopolis wasn’t the only company that was affected. Mattress Nerd and Sleep Sherpa got served too. While some companies settled the claim quickly, Sleepopolis claimed that their review was a matter of opinion, and therefore shouldn’t be censored.

So Long Derek Hales

By the time the summer of 2017 had arrived, Sleepopolis had changed. The site might have looked the same on the outside. However, Hales’ photo was removed and was replaced with an image of Dan Scalo instead. Additionally, Derek Hales announced that he was no longer associated with Sleepopolis. However, if you do visit the Casper reviews on Sleepopolis now, you’ll notice that any yellow boxes recommending other mattress options have been replaced with links and coupon codes that direct customers to the Casper website.

The website had been bought by a subsidiary of JAKK Media, a company that owns a lot of other review sites. Aside from a change in the face at the head of Sleepopolis, the website also started to publish a lot of disclaimers alongside each review. According to JAKK Media, Casper has nothing to do with Sleepopolis today. Still, their response to the review situation has left a lot of people questioning the ethics of the mattress company.

It seems odd that such a huge bed-in-the-box company would make such a fuss over a few reviews online that didn’t immediately tell people to go and buy their products. However, it’s worth noting that many customers do take the words of online influencers and thought leaders very seriously. If Casper believed that the reviews would lose them a lot of business, perhaps they thought that the only option was to take legal action.

Think First. Write Later.

The world of online mattresses is thriving these days, and customers are relying almost entirely on the opinions of others to make a decision in a world where they can’t test their bedding for themselves in person. We want to know as much as we can about a mattress before we start spending our money, after all. However, for a business like Casper to risk being named unethical over a few reviews highlights how dangerous the review world can be. Bloggers may need to be more cautious about what they say in the future.

It just goes to show that you do need to be careful about what you say online these days.

 

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