Two weeks ago, our online columnist Alec Caldwell (president of CARAHS, the Canadian Association of Renovators and Home Services) wrote an opinion piece that argued that online consumer review websites should mediate in cases where homeowners have slammed their renovators online – and where the contractor feels unjustly condemned, publicly.
Brian Sharwood, president of Homestars.com, one of Canada’s leading online review and referral sites linking contractors and homeowners, posted a reply to Alec that wondered if the column was, essentially, a swipe at Homestars – which Alec had actually not named. To read the original article, and the comments, click here.
This week, I thought it would be fun to look back to late last year, to a story that ran in the news all over North America. A Virginia-based contractor sued a homeowner for $750,000 for what he claimed were legally defamatory online reviews on both Yelp and Angie’s List. This, after the homeowner had started legal action against the contractor.
The homeowner made a number of claims against the contractor, following his renovation work on her townhouse. As she posted online, she claimed that (1) he had done “shoddy” work, (2) he had invoiced her for work he had not done, (3) he had stolen jewelry from her home and (4) she advised online readers: “Bottom line, do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.
The contractor “won,” but only partially. A judge ordered the homeowner to take down some (but not all) of the allegations against the contractor, including the jewelry theft claim. But some of the allegations were allowed to stand, and the case has not yet been decided, since the judgement is being appealed by the homeowner. The contractor has not been awarded a nickel.
To see a CBS news report of the contractor’s (at least) partial legal victory, click here.