One contractor sues for defamation; another is convicted but reappears (maybe)
November 7, 2017 by John Bleasby
Story number one.
Is suing for defamation allegedly caused by a bad on-line review a good idea?
Recent media coverage of a dispute between a contractor and a client has caused a stir among consumer advocates. Jeff and Rosanna Varey were in a dispute with their contractor concerning the workmanship performed by Ontario-based contractor Design-Spec Building Group. They ended up posting a negative review on Homestars. That’s when the trouble really started. Design Spec Building sued the Vareys for $3 million, claiming defamation. After eighteen months, the case was settled before going to court.
While both parties paid high legal fees, the long term costs to Design Spec Building for choosing to take the legal route may be more significant. The case has already resulted in a flood negative reviews and comments on-line.
According to Reiner Hoyer of The Reno Coach, situations like this should be avoided. Hoyer says that long before a negative review goes on the internet, the contractor knows there is a problem. If client-contractor negotiations to resolve the dispute are going sideways, the answer is not to call the lawyers but to call in a meditator to help find a solution.
Story number two:
What if a contractor is charged and convicted?
In almost all cases when a contractor or trades-person is found guilty under consumer or regulatory laws, the guilty party disappears, never to be seen again. Do they re-emerge under a new corporate identity? We don’t know. Canadian Contractor has tried to find them, but has never succeeded.
The strange case of Giovanni (John) Bossio
Thunder Bay contractor John Carlo Bossio was convicted by a provincial court last month for taking a deposit and not doing the work. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $5,669.39 in restitution. Bossio was also given two years’ probation, a reporting requirement, and was required to report any changes of address. Mr. Bossio did not appear in court, and did not enter a plea or offer any defense.
There are currently two negative on-line reviews from past customers concerning Bossio’s company, Bossio Design. ‘Scott’ and ‘Anne Marie’ each posted on TrustedPros claiming Bossio Design had taken deposits for eaves work never performed. One claimed that Giovanni (John Carlo) Bossio had moved to Toronto and was doing work there under the name of Bossio Global, and gave an address.
A representative of Bossio Global responded on Trusted Pros:
“I think you may have confused this company with another we have never collected money from someone without providing a service please have your information correct before responding with harsh accusations.”
Strange and stranger
Canadian Contractor googled Bossio Global in Toronto and called the number shown. A man identifying himself as John Bossio claimed that he had no relationship with the Thunder Bay company, and had been an arborist for over 15 years in Toronto. He said the Thunder Bay firm was his brother’s company.
We cannot confirm whether or not the two John Bossios are in fact one and the same. However, when Canadian Contractor asked TrustedPros about the negative reviews, Bossio Global’s response, and what information they could share with us, here is what they wrote back.
“We investigated this matter and contacted Scott about it. Scott as well as the other reviewer, Anne Marie, provided material that connects the contractor, Mr. Giovanni Bossio to his aliases, John Bossio and John Carlo Bossio. This material also connects Mr. Bossio to multiple business names in Toronto and Thunder Bay. The business names include Bossio Global, Bossio Designs, and Vannidesign. Documents that supported this information included emails, contracts, Linkedin invitation emails, and court documents. These documents were supplied by two different clients who have had business experiences with Mr. Bossio.”
More than a coincidence?
We cannot pass judgement, however there are some amazing similarities between Giovani (John Carlo) Bossio of Thunder Bay and John Carlo Bossio of Toronto.
1. On their Trusted Pros and Houzz listings, both list arborist work as one of, if not their main, service.
2. Both Bossio Design and Bossio Global use near-identical wording in their respective TrustedPros/Houzz listings, “At the end of the day we want to put a smile on your face.” ….. “Putting a smile on someone’s face at the end of the day makes it all worthwhile!!!
3. On LinkedIn, both Bossio’s claim degrees from “The International Academy of Design”, with attendance between the years 2000 and 2003 for studies in “Fashion/Apparel Design” or “Interior Design/ Fashion”.
4. The Google reviews for Bossio Global of Toronto are as negative as those for the Thunder Bay outfit. Marianne writes,
“Avoid!!! Super creepy, not in a good way. There are plenty of other professionals in this city who can assist you. Buyer beware.”
There is one 5-Star review among the 1-Stars, submitted by Bossio Global themselves.
Maybe you can run. However, it’s unlikely that you can hide.
Any way you cut it, a criminal conviction for violations of consumer protection or regulatory laws will likely always follow the guilty party wherever they may go and no matter what lengths they go to. As for customer disputes, either on-line or those passed over to lawyers, the long term damage to a company’s reputation is severe, outweighing almost any financial settlement. Best to resolve or mediate in order to avoid!