Tag Archives: business lawsuits

Judge tosses $1 billion taxi lawsuit over Uber law

Yelp Issues Consumer Alert On Business Pages That Threaten Legal Action Against Reviewers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Yelp is trying to ease consumers’ worries about posting a negative review of a business online.

CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Yelp issued a new type of consumer alert of the pages of businesses that have threatened customers with legal action.

The alert reads in part: “This business may be trying to abuse the legal system in an effort to stifle free speech. Reviewers who share their experiences have a First Amendment right to express their opinions on Yelp.”

Last summer, Dr. Nima Dayani, an endodontist, filed a defamation lawsuit against a reviewer after the patient called the doctor “curt” and “dismissive,” said there was a long wait time and gave a three-star review. However, the reviewer also stated the doctor was genuinely interested in finding a cause of the pain.

It wasn’t the first time Dayani sued a reviewer.

In a statement, Dayani said he readily accepts criticism, but when he sees a review that contains an assertion that he says is not true, he first asks the reviewer to take it down, and if they don’t, then he takes legal action.

Dayani’s listing on Yelp is the third to get this kind of consumer alert.

A Texas pet sitting service and a Florida moving company also have them. Michelle Douchouquette and her husband were sued when Prestigious Pets in Dallas said the couple violated a non-disparagement clause.

“When I say it out loud, saying I’m getting sued up to $1 million over this review, I can’t believe it,” she said. “I don’t think it was hateful. It didn’t have bad intent. It’s my opinion of a business.”

Civil rights attorney Normal Siegel said what Yelp is doing is a good thing.

“We need to encourage people to speak their mind,” Siegel said.

However, Siegel added that reviewers must be stating the “absolute truth.”

“When you’re speaking your mind make sure what you’re saying is the absolute truth,” he said. “It it’s not truthful, they do run a risk that a business can claim their reputation has been injured and they could bring a defamation lawsuit, although it’s hard to win a defamation lawsuit.”

Siegel also said that Yelp should change its wording of the alerts and take out First Amendment.

“Because the First Amendment is only applicable to government action, so when you’re dealing with a private business the First Amendment doesn’t kick in,” he said. “What kicks in is our concept of the right to express yourself.”

Two bills have been introduced in Congress: the “Right to Yelp Bill,” also known as the Consumer Review Fairness Act, and the Speak Free Act. It would prevent businesses from suing over negative reviews.

Full Read – http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/07/26/yelp-consumer-alert/

Vacation Rental Company Faces Lawsuit Over Service Changes

Some customers across the country are outraged, saying VRBO took their money for a service, then changed the terms of that service.

Just steps from sunny cove beach in Santa Cruz is Carrie Walton’s vacation home. She rents it to travelers who book on the website VRBO. Walton paid the company $1,200 for a one year “Platinum membership,” designed to boost her home’s ranking in search results.

“Someone looks, there’s maybe 10 pages of homes, and maybe this way, with platinum, you’ll be on the first page, mostly likely at the top,” she said. “We thought it was worth the cost — it was an investment in marketing.”

Walton said it worked for a few months. Then VRBO started charging travelers a “service fee,” an extra 4 to 9 percent that VRBO pockets.

Walton said it’s killing her business. She thinks travelers aren’t renting her home because it’s more expensive now.

“We didn’t pay a platinum subscription to have VRBO scare business away,” she said.

Walton said VRBO told her it made another change. Her “Platinum membership” alone no longer guaranteed high search results.

Leena Shah’s story echoes Walton’s. She paid a platinum membership fee too and said she is now seeing rentals of her Maui condo drop drastically.

“I’m just throwing my hands up in the air now with VRBO,” Shah said.

Complaints about VRBO litter the internet. Angry homeowners even created a Facebook page.

“We receive dozens and dozens of calls,” said Michael Bowse, an attorney.

Bowse filed a class-action lawsuit against HomeAway, which owns VRBO, accusing the company of bait and switch, and breaching its contracts by charging the new service fee.

“So it essentially took people’s money under one set of circumstances and then changed the circumstances once it took their money,” he said.

Walton and Shah aren’t part of this lawsuit. But they do want their money back.

“I want my money refunded because it’s a breach of contract,” Walton said. “This is not what I signed up for.”

VRBO wouldn’t say whether it would refund Walton and Shah, citing pending litigation.

The company said since adding the new service fee, it’s introduced new security guarantees and “24/7 customer service.”

They said they’re now quote, “Delivering more happy consumers to VRBO owners.”

Source: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Vacation-Rental-Company-Faces-Lawsuit-Over-Service-Changes-384217571.html#ixzz4CYZ4bqC3
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