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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    I heard that the CEO of All Fields of Concrete Construction can't have an orgasm unless he kills a dog. That's just something I heard somewhere.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      sehlat (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:32pm

      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.

       

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

      •  
        icon
        Ima Fish (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:37pm

        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.

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:46pm

        Re: Re:

        /woosh

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    lukeMV, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    I won't use them because if they sued her for something as frivolous as an on-line comment, what's to say they won't sue me for something while they are doing work on my property.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    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.

    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.

     

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

    •  
      icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:25pm

      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....

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      DS, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:25pm

      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.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        tom5859, Oct 26th, 2010 @ 7:52pm

        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!

         

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

      •  
        identicon
        dan, Feb 9th, 2012 @ 4:56am

        Re: Re:

        ...the company "probably"??

         

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

    •  
      icon
      Ima Fish (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      "the f rating is not warranted because there was no service"

      But they failed at providing her any service. They promised free estimates in their ad, but failed/refused to give her one. Failing to do what you promise in your ads warrants an F.

       

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

    •  
      icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:29pm

      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?

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:42pm

      Re:

      Don't you get tired of having to argue the opposite of whatever Mike happens to post?

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Gwiz, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re:

        Mike says: Water is wet.

        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 is not wet unless we have a government monopoly that insures that all water stays wet.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Bruce Ediger (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 1:36pm

          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.

           

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

      •  
        icon
        btrussell (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 2:45pm

        Re: Re:

        I'm sure they do, but it seems to be a living!

         

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 3:31pm

      Re:

      Deserve it or not is the opinion of one person and should be respected even if it has no foundation in reality, even if it is crazy, people can go out there and there her a new one but not sue her, not try to stifle speech or criticism in such a dishonest manner.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Scote, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    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?

     

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

    •  
      icon
      John Fenderson (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:42pm

      Re:

      To be slander, it has to be both defamatory and false. Is her rating defamatory? Could be. Did she make false statements explaining it? If so, the company will have to prove that.

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Ellen, Jan 21st, 2011 @ 2:44pm

      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.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Mikecancook, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Suing customers, even prospective customers is not a good business method. Perhaps the owner might have been better off contacting her and asking if he could personally do an estimate and give it to her at cost. That experience might have turned her into an evangelist for the company instead of an albatross.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Fitz@allfieldsofconcrete.com is the skankiest of skanks.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Scote, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    "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.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Vic, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    The category/filed under "Streisand Effect" is long overdue here...

     

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

  •  
    icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    A Well Known Problem...

    Contractors suing for bad reviews on Angie's List is a well known problem.

    Angie's list needs to fix this problem by:

    A) Providing ample contractor rebuttal space.
    B) Dropping/Banning contractors that sue reviewers for libel/slander.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 6:29am

      Re: A Well Known Problem...

      C) Automatically post a warning about the litigious nature of the concern in question.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Scote, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    @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" :-)

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 12:56pm

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

    This concrete company needs to stop being so hard headed.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    jjmsan (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    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.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 1:52pm

      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.

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

      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.

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Scote, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 2:05pm

        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.

         

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

        •  
          icon
          Cdaragorn (profile), Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 12:16pm

          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.

           

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

  •  
    identicon
    Scote, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Oh, and I should add that in the aggregate the lawsuit gives me concrete evidence that cements my opinion of the company.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Scote, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Too late, Thomas. Already used. But I'm glad that AC 12:56pm paved the way for the subsequent slurry of puns.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    None, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 3:42pm

    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!!

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    None, Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 3:43pm

    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!!

     

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

  •  
    icon
    chrobrego (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    I've got four friends in Chicago; I'm forwarding this article

    What a douche.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 10:17pm

    Welp, the Streisand effect continues to work well.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Matt Ellsworth, Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 7:32am

    I'd be curious to see if a judge even hear's this or just throws it out. it sounds so out there it isn't even funny.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    average_joe (profile), Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 10:13am

    I think "All Fields of Concrete Construction" is a stupid name. I wonder if they'll sue me next. Hope so. :)

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anymouse, Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Call Michael Fitzgerald

    Here's their number:
    773 - 735 - 1794
    Call Michael Fitzgerald and tell him what you think.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2010 @ 5:20am

    These guys must have concrete on the brain. DUH! I'll be sure to NEVER use them should the need arise.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    DanVan (profile), Jul 4th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Ashame that the woman will have to pay for the court costs to battle a suit that will get laughed out of court

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    One Girl's Opinion, Sep 2nd, 2010 @ 10:45pm

    Unfortunately I have had dealings with the woman and members of her family. Trust me, the lady who did this and members of her family are dishonest and love to do this kind of stuff to people. Do I think they should be sued over this? No. But I don't doubt that it was done maliciously.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Expensive F, Sep 27th, 2010 @ 10:40pm

    Lawsuit Was Dismissed but Legal Fees were not Awarded

    Regarding this lawsuit, the case was dismissed by the court but legal fees were not awarded. Lawyer fees and court costs had to be paid. Beware what you post on Angie's List. The aggravation of a lawsuit and the potential loss of legal fees is not worth it (in my humble opinion).

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    scott, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 4:38am

    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.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    mike, Oct 11th, 2012 @ 3:08pm

    angies list

    angies list is a joke--ive seen poor jobs done by angies list contractors so i have no respect for it.

     

    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