Yet Another Online Gripes Site Sued

from the will-hopefully-get-thrown-out-again dept

Time and time again we hear stories of various online "gripes" sites getting sued. Every time it's the same basic story. Some company that some person complained about gets upset about the complaint and sues the site. Of course, in every one of these cases, the lawsuit gets tossed out, because the site itself is protected thanks to CDA section 230 safe harbors that protect the site from liability for content written by users. Yet, the lawsuits just keep on coming. This latest one is a little different. It's been filed by a car dealer against the website ConsumerAffairs.com, which hosts some complaints about his dealership. The dealer has actually sued ConsumerAffairs.com twice before, only to pull both lawsuits right before they were about to be tossed. This time, though, he swears things are different, though it's still not at all clear how he gets around the section 230 issue (answer: he probably doesn't). However, to take the claims a bit further than the usual complaints, he's alleging two points: first that the domain name ConsumerAffairs.com is deceptive in that it confuses users into thinking it is associated with various state government offices of consumer affairs -- making the site seem more "official." He also complains that the site is simply designed as a lead generator for class action lawyers, which the site owner disputes, noting that they make no money from such lawsuits and receives no referral fees. It's difficult to see how either of these issues gets around the core issue, which is that it's still not the site itself that's liable. If the guy wants to sue those who posted the complaints, he could go after them -- but the site itself is immune.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Kris from Alaska, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 1:50pm

    Sued for Opinions

    It's now common practice to sue for having a bad experience with a company and reporting it to others? Since when? Last I checked, there's a very large company based entirely off of reviews of other companies (Consumer Reports), which happens to be a very useful tool for someone getting ready to go into the market for something they don't have much experience in. America is getting drastically more ridiculous by the day, and it seems other countries are following closely in our footsteps.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    J, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    Truth

    Well, I am not sure what charges he is attempting to press but even beyond safe harbor laws are the laws that protect free speech. Slander is illegal but the question he would have to prove is that the comments are lies. The company has a huge advantage, one safe harbor and two being that the statements are most likely true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mike, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    Whaa Whaa Whaa

    I'm sick to death of idiots such as the car dealership owner, who thinks a law suit is appropriate when someone happens to get angry enough when wronged, to let the world know about it. I don't usually read consumeraffirs.com, but i'm going over there now to make sure I get the name of the car dealership, so i can make sure my wife & I don't go there next week when we go shopping for a new car. Hey.. I just thought of something.. Techdirt.com could now be a defendant in this guys fantasy law suits.. I just got one thing to say to him.. OOps.. I already said it in my subject line. I'll only add to that, "Get a Life & Stop ripping people off, and maybe nice things will be said about your business." Maybe the guy will get lucky on his third try, and the judge thrown's him in the slammer for abusing our court's time/money

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Overcast, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    Tom Nemet, owner of Nemet Motors in Jamaica, Queens is the guy suing.

    Streisand Effect - again!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 3:16pm

    Wait a sec...

    Does "word-of-mouth advertising" sound familiar? As a person who has a BA in Public Relations and Advertising and works in Advertising, these suits just irritate me. Why worry about customer service or quality of service/product? You're just going to sue the customer (or Gripe Site) if they don't like it.

    One of the first things you learn in an advertising class is Word-of-Mouth advertising can make a business or it can break a business. Have you ever had a bad experience somewhere and told everyone about it? Instead of needing to actually see or call these people to tell them, you put it up on the web, a Gripe Site, for the world to see. All the positive advertising in the world cannot make up for lousy experiences by vocal customers.

    Lawsuits for Slander? Libel? Yes. Word-of-Mouth Advertising? No.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Snubbr CEO, Apr 4th, 2008 @ 7:31pm

    It's True

    I mean seriously, who cares if it's a lead generator? HELLO!? What's your point? Lead generation = not illegal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    andrew from queens, Apr 26th, 2008 @ 1:15pm

    you guys are all morons, attorneys only understand one thing....sue. this site is a bunch of attorney's trying to sue and now it's happening to them. bottom feeders have to dive down deeper to find lawyers, it's a boys club where they all charge clients for time wasted. in the end they are the only one's who make out

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Michael Lentini, May 28th, 2009 @ 10:18am

    wrecked car sold as new 5k of work needed

    I bought a new 2008 BMW M6 and it was wrecked before I bought it and was never told abot it. Check out www.bilpearcereno.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    abene, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    sued eu sou freco oq vc pode fazer para min ser homen em gay

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jacob, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 2:54am

    Consumer Affairs is misleading and lazy

    I own a business that wound up being posted on Consumer Affairs. The complaint states that the customer did not receive their registration papers for a puppy. When I discovered the complaint I sent James Hood of C Affairs proof in the form of a customer signed Certified Letter from the USPS documenting that we had delivered the papers. James Hood will not remove the false post nor will he post our response. If you check this guy out you will see he is not sincere.
    He is wreckless with his posts and his lack of good faith will wind up causing a change in the laws which he now hides behind. It is a shame. It reminds me of the statement "There is not freedom without responsibilty."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Eric, Aug 25th, 2013 @ 9:30pm

      Re: Consumer Affairs is misleading and lazy

      Comsumeraffairs.com is a crooked site out to defraud businesses and the public. They posted a negative review of my travel business and the review was from a tour 3 years ago in which 28 of 31 people loved it but 3 ladies together decided they did not and posted a review on another site. Consumeraffairs plagiarized that site for their site and when I tried to post a rebuttal to merely state the truth, they would not post it. Then when I called them and asked why they asked me for $3000 for the right to post my rebuttal! Clients of mine tried to post positive reviews of their experiences on the site and each was denied and I was told positive reviews can not be posted without the company first paying $3000 for the tight to have positive reviews posted.
      The site is a fraudulent scam.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This