It’s not too often I get threats from people / businesses threatening to sue me for defamation, though, I have got 3 threats in the last year.
OzVoIP.com – They didn’t like the domain name I chose (with having no prior knowledge they existed) for what they claimed was an attempt to pass off as the name they had (OzVoIP.com), I had OzVoIPStatus.com.
The person handling it was very immature and carried on like a baby screaming that I was defaming his business by using a different domain name in the .com namespace. He was pretty certain of himself I attempted to pass off as his domain, which was completely incorrect.
None the less, he was dumb enough to take it to the lawyers and they wrote me, to which I asked for evidence, and even ended up informing their lawyers of the relevant laws and advised them to take it to court if they wanted to lose.
They ended up choosing not to take legal action, assumably because they didn’t have the balls to do so, and accepted that we could simply exist in the same namespace, doing different things (they do some sort of VoIP installation service or some crap.. don’t really care).
The next: CAT Computers. They threatened me on this blog here, for defamation.
Apparently, stating the facts of what had occurred during a phone call was defaming his business and he claimed loss of income too.
That n00b didn’t bother going to his lawyer, he was simply trying to “scare” me into removing the facts.
They don’t like embarrassment, too bad for him I play hard ball with anyone who threatens legal action, I don’t care what the circumstances are.
Now, we have the next one.
An eBay Seller, I won’t name him, because I don’t really think he deserves to be shamed out for his actions, though they aren’t exactly ethical.
This eBay seller, I bought some RAM from using the Buy It Now feature on eBay.
The transaction was a success, though it had a few bumps in the road.
It started with the automated email I received from them, sent via eBay, showing an incorrect address, I clearly specified an address for them to ship to, yet I was rather amazed at the response that came through which was suggesting they would ship it to an incorrect address.
I immediately bounced on top of it, as a previous eBay seller, I knew that its difficult to sort out shipping issues after the item has shipped to the wrong address, espiecially when the address they had specified as the delivery address was going to somewhere where a lunatic lived (remember the previous blog post: Live between two bowling alleys (our previous address), he would certainly have received it and not returned it, costing this seller well, $260 in RAM).
I wanted to be sure to get immediate attention, so the email was sent to them, addressing them as idiots for not getting the right address on the email that I had specified for them to ship to.
Amazing service from this bloke though, he called me quickly later on, interupted what I was in the middle of too! :(, and he mentioned the email used automated information from eBay, and he would ensure that the item I paid for would ship to the right address. I apologised to him for addressing him as an idiot, and stated that I didn’t really want to attack them, just wanted to get enough attention to highlight the incorrect address.
At this point in time I believed that the email sent out should be able to access the delivery information I specified and it was purely an email template change for them to undertake, so in my email reply I noted that so at least the situation wouldn’t pop up for anyone else.
A few days later, the good people at the data centre message me, asking if I was expecting a package from some place in St. Peters. Didn’t sound familiar at all. I went and sussed it out, and checked out an active auction by the seller of the RAM, sure enough, St. Peters. They had shipped a Apple video cable or something, a cheap junkyard item, instead of the expensive $260 RAM i had paid for.
Anyway, at this point, I contact them about the stuff up, and state that I would like them to immediately ship the RAM, and arrange shipping of the cable.
Brad, their known eBay legend, who seemingly gets stressed over the most simple of issues contacted me and said he’d send it off on Monday, which was disappointing as I really wanted it there sooner than later. But none the less, I accepted this.
I began to wonder why would they ship a cable over expensive RAM. It doesn’t make sense. 2 items should have shipped (two sticks of RAM), not one cable.
It then started to form a picture that perhaps they were using this as retaliation, in some bizarre way.
So, at this point it began to picture to me that they were stuffing the order up for calling them an idiot. Why act like an idiot if you aren’t? Bugs me. But that’s what I believed.
The RAM arrived shortly later on. It was installed, and it works fine.
I still at this point pondered my feedback decision, and came to a conclusion, they made 2 stuff ups, and I believed one was deliberate for addressing them as “idiot”.
That was pretty deserving of a negative, but I made it a sound negative, stating just they had confused a firewire cable with 2 sticks of RAM, and mentioned it was fixed tho.
I stuck by this.
I shortly afterwards get an email from the ‘eBay legend’ addressing me as “YOU MORON”…
Right, this was off to a good start, so I read on and I reply to Brad, stating that I firmly believed that they were deliberately stuffing up the order as a result of addressing them as “Idiot” and despite my apology stuffed up the order.
It didn’t really matter what I believed completely though, they did stuff up, there’s no questions there, twice, once with the address, the other with the shipment, though the addressing issue was more of an eBay system issue, as well as their process for shipping, which doesn’t check if a buyer specified a different ship to address at the point of purchase, which I did do.
Anyway, the emails continue, and Brad informs me that no, the shipment was a result of two stickers being placed on packages accidentally.
Fair enough. I was wrong. D’oh.
Anyway, I sat there pondering, they were still wrong for stuffing up the shipment, but not really too wrong they fixed it quickly.
I thought, but the negative is worth it to at least demonstrate that this alledged 100%, no negative company is human, has a flawed shipping process, and did indeed cause me to wait a short while longer for the RAM i ordered.
John, the person who had called me, writes me an email back later on asking for it to be removed. Still remaining with my consideration, they stuffed up, I determine that it should stay.
John’s emails continue for a few occasions after there, pressuring me into removing the negative. I remain of the stance no.
I began to wonder, I did have a positive transaction, and I then begin to consider perhaps removing the feedback, it was an option I thought, they only stuffed up twice, but they had a bargain on the RAM, and it all works fine!
Anyway, as I was thinking more about the removal, and what I should do, I get an email from John, threatening:
1. Legal action for defamation (the negative feedback).
2. Legal action for stress suffered by employees as a result of the negative feedback.
3. Legal action for loss of income as a result of the negative feedback.
4. A bill for the cheap cable they had shipped incorrectly.
5. A Square Trade dispute lodged.
6. A negative feedback item in return… For paying for the item I purchased immediately? Right…
7. Contacting his eBay representative.
8. “Various other actions”.
Seeing this email, my response was pretty easy to conclude.
1. The negative feedback shall remain. They had stuffed up the order, the negative is a direct result of that and should remain.
2. They can go ahead and take that to court, I will happily attend, and even discuss the details of any future transactions I might wish to have with them, on the whole the transaction was pretty good, with just one shipping error, and a recently discovered automated emailing error.
So, my response to John was outlining exactly that they can go ahead, good luck proving loss of income in an eBay marketplace, good luck proving any defamation occurred, when you consider millions of feedback items are left on eBay, and we don’t see users suing users for “defamation”. Defamation isn’t correct here though, they bought such comments upon themselves by stuffing up in the first place.
Further, I figure, if they want to bill me for their stuff up, there’s another court case for them to follow on with, as I will refuse to pay for their stuff up.
Anyway, the dispute is still continuing, I’ve given them an option of middle ground here, not feedback removal, but the option of him using his right of reply to the eBay feedback system to reply to the feedback I left with anything he likes, and I will follow up with on the whole I was happy with the purchase.
I really was happy.
But now he made the lawsuit list. That’s 3 in just 1 year. All of them fools for even thinking of taking legal action against me, for numerous reasons, but the top one I can think of is: They’d all lose, I didn’t defame any of them, they all bought such responses on themselves by taking actions they did instead of doing things right in the first place.
If you develop an automated addressing procedure, you at least use the address provided for delivery by the customer, and don’t rely on anything in any initial purchase email as gold (which they did, and as I pointed out, is a huge risk for the business to take).
Further, if you get negative feedback, approach the person leaving it reasonably. I don’t really expect to be addressed as “YOU MORON”. And more importantly, don’t threaten legal action to try and get your way.
I’ve been in and out of courts of different nature as a kid, right from basic petty theft to grand scale fraud.
Further, if you want to try and kick up legal action, go in with little more than ‘negative feedback left on eBay’ as your only ammunition. It’s so easily shot down in the grand scheme of things.
Anyway, my middle ground option is there for John, I will follow up the feedback stating it was a happy transaction and I’d deal with them again, only if he chooses to reply to the feedback I left with the fact they did fix the problem.
Otherwise, he needs to simply sit back, accept that they stuffed up, accept it earnt them a negative, accept that I for one am not threatened by legal action, and move on from where it was left.
It was a simple, quick transaction, he has had a 4 day debate via email over how justified a negative feedback item is, and how he wishes to take legal action against me for providing feedback on actions he / his company took in the course of fulfilling a transaction.
Why businesses even try to threaten defamation legal action is beyond me. You have better luck working with the customer for a mutual agreed outcome rather than trying to scare them into taking your preferred action, and in doing so, throwing any chance of the preferred action taking place out the window.
If I was approached with “I’m sorry to say, I disagree with your negative feedback, I do ask you remove it after you consider the positives of the transaction”, I might have been more inclined to change it. In fact, I would have been given reason to consider all the positives of the transaction, and not just all the huge negatives that stood right out.
What they have done (and I will say I’ve done my bit to participate to) is create a pretty well deadlocked situation. The current situation is quiet happy to remain, on the other hand, a more positive situation is possible by taking a few simple steps on the eBay feedback forum.
And to any company reading: If your threatening legal action, consider the 2Clix case mentioned on Whirlpool. They’ve had more publicity in a week than they’ve had in their lifetime, trouble is, it’s the wrong publicity, and further, the legal action threatened is likely to slam back in their faces. Just as it would with OzVoIP. Just as it would with CAT Computers. Just as it would with this eBay seller. You can’t silence critical comments from users. Grow a brain, and use it.