Posting Truthful Negative Reviews Online Can Cause Big Headaches

Fined For Posting A Negative Review Online. Years ago, a Utah woman posted a negative review about an online company from which her husband ordered Christmas presents. The company never sent the products and Paypal canceled the order after 30 days. The wife tried unsuccessfully to contact the company, and wrote a negative review on a customer complaint website. The review stated there “is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being,” and accused the company of having “horrible customer service practices.”

The company fined the couple $3,500 for “disparaging” comments in accordance with the fine print in the terms of sale on the company’s website. The couple tried to get the comment removed, but the customer complaint website allegedly wanted $2,000. The couple then learned the online sales company had dinged their credit report for the unpaid $3,500. The couple recently has been trying to get an auto loan, and has been rejected by numerous lenders due to this black mark on their credit report.

It appears this couple is paying a heavy and unfair price for trying to do something about really poor customer service. They have legal remedies, but they can be very expensive and time-consuming, and there is no guarantee of success. On the other hand, even good businesses can be victimized by false or unfair reviews. There are people out there who make up harmful reviews and then offer to take them down for money.

By Robert Hawkinson

Want to Pay Other People’s Debts? Be a Captain Dave.

Seattle Times writer Danny Westneat recently wrote an engaging article about a fellow named Captain Dave. It goes something like this.

Captain Dave started the Seattle’s first modern floating farmers’ market at South Lake Union, “putting old boats back to work.” Unknown to Captain Dave, one of the market’s vendors was running up big dollars in back parking tickets, penalties and interest going back about 10 years. The City couldn’t find the scofflaw and they went after Captain Dave instead.

Last Winter the farmers’ market received a garnishment for wages from the City’s collection agent for the entire $7,800 debt. Captain Dave didn’t know where the vendor was. He called the City and the collection agent and explained the farmers’ market didn’t have any employees, thinking the whole thing would be dropped. Big mistake! When an employer doesn’t formally respond to garnishment papers, the employer can be come liable for the entire debt of the debtor even if the debtor is not an employee. Now the farmers’ market is shuttered.

Small business owners especially hate garnishments. The fee paid to the employer-garnishee to process an employee garnishment is a pittance, which doesn’t cover the employer’s costs and time. I always tell my clients, either process the garnishment or be prepared to pay what the debtor owes. Its the law.

By Robert Hawkinson


If you’d like to read Danny Westneat’s entertaining article, Parking enforcers sink Capt. Dave, here’s the link –

© 2013 Robert K. Hawkinson. All Rights Reserved