Feb 172013


This story is from a few months ago, but it’s worth repeating here, given its relevance to local listings:
CBS News: Contractor Suing Homeowner Over Negative Yelp and Angie’s List Reviews

The Story:
Unhappy with the home remodeling service provided by a contractor, a Virginia homeowner posted negative reviews about the workmanship on multiple review sites, including Yelp and Angie’s List. However, she went beyond direct complaints and suggested that some of her jewelry was also stolen. The contractor was not happy with the reviews and sued, claiming defamation and damages of over $300,000 in lost business. The case is still pending, though the contractor won the first round, with a judge ordering the removal of allegations of theft and comments about legal action.

Our Geek Analysis:
For local businesses, this is a reminder of the importance of customer reviews: Positive customer reviews are golden but negative reviews can have a serious and lasting impact. In fact, the contractor in this case alleges that just two negative reviews from this one customer cost him over $300,000 in lost business. That’s quite an impact.

If you are a customer, keep in mind that there are limits to the First Amendment when it comes to writing a review of a business. If you have a complaint, we recommend first contacting the business to try to get things fixed. If that doesn’t work, any review posted online should stick to the facts while clearly labelling any opinions as being an opinion.