Concrete Company Sues Woman For Posting Negative Review On Angie's List

from the well,-now-we-know-who-to-avoid dept

You really would think, at this point, that any lawyer worth his or her hourly rate would strongly recommend to clients that they don’t go ballistic in filing lawsuits any time someone says something bad about you. Hell, there have been multiple stories recently about just how badly a similar lawsuit from a towing company has backfired on the company. But, yet again, we have a story of a business suing over a negative review. This time, it’s a woman in Chicago who wrote a negative review of a local cement company on the site Angie’s List because it refused to even give her an estimate, saying it didn’t work in her area. She was upset because the company was only based 5 miles away, and on Angie’s List, said it did work where she lived. So she wrote about her experience and rated the company an “F.” In response, the company, All Fields of Concrete Construction, sued her, claiming she “willingly and maliciously tried and succeeded in damaging my company’s reputation.” Once again, it makes you wonder: which is more damaging to your reputation? Getting a bad rating online, or suing the person who gave you that rating? It’s difficult to see how the concrete company has much of a case. The “F” rating is clearly an opinion, not a statement of fact. And it’s hard to show that the woman was “malicious” in her rating. She gave her opinion. But, now, thanks to the lawsuit, a lot more people know her opinion of All Fields of Concrete Construction.

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Companies: all fields of concrete construction, angie's list

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Comments on “Concrete Company Sues Woman For Posting Negative Review On Angie's List”

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61 Comments
sehlatsays:

Re:

I’m sorry to have to say this, but that remark exceeds Mr. Fitzgerald’s being a jerk without even trying. Both of you are doing it superbly.

The fact that he’s willing to sue somebody for publishing a negative opinion? lukemv’s got it right. If the pakhtash is that litigious, I wouldn’t even call him for an estimate. He might stub his toe while he’s on my property.

Ima Fishsays:

Re: Re:

I’m sorry to have to say this, but that remark exceeds Mr. Fitzgerald’s being a jerk without even trying.

But I’m not being a jerk. I’m making a joke via a hip cultural reference. Hence the link. Which I’m assuming you didn’t click. If you did, you’re completely clueless. And I’m still not being a jerk, merely honest.

Anonymoussays:

the f rating is not warranted because there was no service. it is sort of like rating a restaurant bad because it wont serve mcdonalds to you. the company may not even be allowed to work in that area (permits, perhaps), we dont know.

suing is a pretty big jump, and fairly negative (look at what ima fish did with it) but at the same time, if it is the first thing that comes up in google, perhaps they have reason.

Dark Helmetsays:

Re:

What reason? She gave an opinion. I agree that the F isn’t warranted based on the story (if they guy can’t/doesn’t work there, then why should she rate them badly), but just because her opinion is uninformed or downright stupid doesn’t make her liable….

Incidentally, I know these guys a little bit. At one point in my life, when I apparently wished to live on the South Side amongst ignorant White Sox fans and the dregs of Chicago, I was living about four blocks away from them. A shame, since they’re in such close proximity to one of the best businesses in chicago, Bobak’s Sausage company….

DSsays:

Re:

Soooo…. if I go to an empty restaurant, and ask to be seated, and they tell me to f-off, I should be stopped from telling anyone else how rude they were to me?

The company probably had more than enough work to do, and didn’t need her business. Either that, or she was a terrible person on the phone to deal with. Either way, one F rating out by it’s lonesome self shouldn’t be enough to disuade anyone from anything.

And if it did, well, I wouldn’t want that type of customer anyways.

Re: Re:

Last week i had the misfortune of losing my car keys, i called this other place that kept telling me some one will be here in 30 min, one hour later they said the same thing. next morning i called discount locksmith, they also told me 30 min, only they showed up, and it was even on time! The guy (tomy) was very nice and explained me exactly what he was going to do and how long it will take. it did take him a bit more time than he told me it would (20 min longer) but i got a new key that works just fine, and i promised him i would put in a good word, so there you go tomy, thanks again!

Chronno S. Triggersays:

Re:

No, no they don’t. Even if it is the first thing that shows up on Google, they do not have anything even remotely resembling a reason to sue. She was working with them, she wanted to give them her money, they would not take it due to bad business practices or strait up lying. How does that not give her the right to write a negative review?

Bruce Edigersays:

Re: Re: Re:

You missed the need to consult a lawyer:

ee trollings says: it’s a typical friday on techdirt and mike is once again misleading his brain dead followers into thinking water is wet. water may not be wet. consult a lawyer to find out if water is, in fact, wet. all mike and his ilk want to do is drink water, wet or not.

Scotesays:

From TFA:
“Fitzgerald, talking with CBS 2 by phone, countered: “I’m not trying to be a jerk. It’s just hard to have somebody slander you.” “

Oh, but you do it so well. Without even trying… :-p

I have to agree with lukeMV. I wouldn’t want to hire any company that is that litigious. It just isn’t worth the risk. If anything, the lawsuit just provides what seems like confirmation of the woman’s low rating.

Perhaps somebody should send the man a photo of Babara Streisand’s house?

Ellensays:

Re: I have to agree with lukeMV. I wouldn't want to hire any company that is that litigious. It just isn't worth the risk. If anything, the lawsuit just provides what seems like confirmation of the woman's low rating.

Perhaps you and LukeMV do not have a good name in your community, and perhaps that’s not important to you. However; there are many good contractors that do care about their good name, and are willing to sacrifice everything because they do genuinely care. They care about their customers, their community, the importance of doing a good job, and yes; they care about what others think of them.
The fact that you won’t hire him because you think they mite sue you, and the fact that you won’t hire him because he’s willing to stand up for himself, only points out one flaw, and that is that you are cowards.
Angie?s list really should not be permitted to post negative remarks about contractors unless they, as the BBB does, have brought the claims to the contractor?s attention, allowed that contractor to respond; afterwich, investigate the claim, and if substantiated; Post it.

Scotesays:

“Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:19pm

the f rating is not warranted because there was no service. it is sort of like rating a restaurant bad because it wont serve mcdonalds to you. the company may not even be allowed to work in that area (permits, perhaps), we dont know.”

That depends on the type of review, product or company/service.

It is totally inappropriate for people to give 1 star reviews to books on Amazon over delivery problems from Amazon because those reviews are for the books, not the service. But a negative review for a company’s service or lack thereof may be entirely appropriate for business reviews if the company claims to offer service in an area but refuses to do so when called. In such circumstances they are providing bad customer service. Would you, for instance, say that somebody shouldn’t give a restaurant a bad review if, for no reason, you are refused a table? I’d say that would be a legitimate beef.

BTW, Angie’s list gives the reviewed company a right of reply “Companies and providers respond to reports, so you get the whole story. ” Which means that All Fields of Concrete Construction presumably got to tell their side of the story right next to Helen Maslona’s negative review, so the lawsuit is even more unjustified than it would seem just from the Techdirt article.

Scotesays:

@John Fenderso

Defamatory, false and a claim of fact.

A rating is clearly an opinion, making this lawsuit frivolous on its face, IMO.

AFIK, the concrete company hasn’t disputed her account, just gotten mad about it and sued. Can’t say for sure, though, since the suit hasn’t been posted here. However, this techdirt post now makes the front page in the Google search for “All Fields of Concrete” 🙂

jjmsansays:

Negative Reviews

I find negative reviews with comments helpful when trying to find a new service company. First of all you know it is not posted by a shill. Secondly, reading the comments you can decided whether the person is complaining is i complete jerk. How a company handles problems that occur is a good indication of their regular service level.

Scotesays:

Re: Re: Negative Reviews

“I find that a lot on Newegg, you get low reviews because it was DOA but the replacement came 2 days later and worked fine, tells you the reviewer isn’t very fair.”

Those are product reviews, in which case noting that the QA is sufficiently poor that the manufacturer is shipping DOA units is a legitimate consumer complaint about the product. That Newegg quickly ships replacements is a sign of good service on Newegg’s part, not an indicator that the quality of the product is good.

In any case, reviews on Angie’s List are not product reviews, they are company/service reviews. The company is alleged to have offered free estimates in a service area and subsequently refused to live up to their advertised offer. If that is so then there is a legitimate basis to give the company a poor review for their service–especially since the review is said to note the exact reasons woman’s low ratings of the company.

Cdaragornsays:

Re: Re: Re: Negative Reviews

“Those are product reviews, in which case noting that the QA is sufficiently poor that the manufacturer is shipping DOA units is a legitimate consumer complaint about the product. That Newegg quickly ships replacements is a sign of good service on Newegg’s part, not an indicator that the quality of the product is good.”

Only when one hasn’t got the first clue how electronics work. Getting a DOA unit doesn’t say anything about a companies QA. Electronics can be burnt out far too easily, anyone who understands that knows that it is expected to have a certain percentage of units go dead in transit for all sorts of reasons, hence why complaining about getting one that did go bad just because you were the unlucky one is just stupid.

Nonesays:

I always look at the negative reviews over the positive reviews. I look to see how many reviews there are, I look to see what they say and make my decision based on how many negative vs positive and based on why there was negative review’s and if they are all consistant or if they are all over the board. Negative reviews do not dis-saude my desicion but the fact a company files a law suite for a negatve review would most definately make my desicion a very firm NO!!

Nonesays:

I always look at the negative reviews over the positive reviews. I look to see how many reviews there are, I look to see what they say and make my decision based on how many negative vs positive and based on why there was negative review’s and if they are all consistant or if they are all over the board. Negative reviews do not dis-saude my desicion but the fact a company files a law suite for a negatve review would most definately make my desicion a very firm NO!!

scottsays:

I like the concept of Angie’s list a lot. However, I think that Angie’s List should change some of their policies. I do not believe that homeowners should be permitted to get on and give grades to companies unless there has been actual work completed. I am a business owner myself who is the top rated company in my area on Angie’s list. We get the majority of our work from Angie’s list. We are very small in size – just a couple employees. Out of close to a hundred reports over 10 years, we have only received 2 grades that were bad reports. In both of these cases, I never even met the people. In one of those cases… the person lived a little over an hour away and wanted me to do a small project. I knew that I would not be able to give a fair price because of the gas and travel time, etc – so I simply told her on the phone I am sorry but it is too far for me to travel. She said ok and hung up.

A few days later I saw an Angie’s list report posted by her giving me an “F” commenting “I don’t think that the location of a job should determine whether or not you at least go to look at the project and give a price”. I was totally dismayed. Currently (due to our being the top rated company in the area) we have more calls that we can even handle for our work. We just HAVE to turn a lot of people down. Some might ask “why don’t you just hire more people”. The reason is that hiring more people changes the dynamics of a small business and I want to focus on less number of projects with higher quality and service. Just a choice I made. However – the fact is – any one of the people we have to tell that we are too busy have the ability to get on Angie’s list and in a public forum berate us because they are unhappy people.

I would not go to ever suing someone over a bad report. I think that really is a bad PR move to say the least. But – I know of several high quality companies in town – who do the very best work in town in their field – and they have received numerous types of these reports where there really wasn’t much interaction between them and the client such as– they were too busy and could not get to the person, they went to look at a job and it was too small for them (it has to fit in the business model of a company to be profitable or else it will be a dis-service to the both parties), etc.

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