Couple Fined $3,500 For Truthful Negative Online Review Fights Back

I recently posted an article about a Utah couple who was “fined” by an online retailer for posting a negative review (see http://bit.ly/1dy07Yx). Products were ordered, but never received. The wife wrote a negative review on a customer complaint website that appeared to be accurate and truthful. The company fined the couple $3,500 for “disparaging” comments in accordance with the terms of sale on the retailer’s website. The retailer dinged the couple’s credit report for the unpaid fine.

Now, according to a recent ABA Journal article, the couple is suing the retailer for damaging their credit rating when they refused to pay the fine. The lawsuit alleges the retailer defamed its customers and violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Damages sought total at least $75,000.

By Robert Hawkinson

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