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  • FIRST POST
    • pawntoc5
    • By pawntoc5 14th Jun 19, 8:13 PM
    • 20Posts
    • 4Thanks
    pawntoc5
    Blackmailed by a company I hired. What would you do here?
    • #1
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:13 PM
    Blackmailed by a company I hired. What would you do here? 14th Jun 19 at 8:13 PM
    Hello all! I need a bit of help -

    Short version: my husband and I hired a videographer/his film company for our wedding last year but the footage was poor and very delayed, beyond the timeframe that was represented to us. I posted a 2 star review on Google and the videographer responded publicly by denying its authenticity, claiming that I am "not a genuine client" and that my review is false. At the same time, he emailed me and threatened to sue if I don't take down the review. He also threatened, amongst other things, to call me at my workplace and involve my employer if I don't respond. This is obviously insane since I've got so much proof that I am a genuine client (eg. payment, emails). I also find the blackmail tactics despicable.

    My question: Does anyone know if there are authorities I can report them to? Consumers should not have to put up with this sort of outrageous attacks, especially when the vendor himself is doing the lying.

    Long version: in addition to the above threats (which he might well follow through on… hard to say.) he has done a number of other disturbing things, including tracking my husband down on LinkedIn (I guess he wanted to find out which company to call if he did want to involve our employers) and finding out who my employer is (I'd never told him directly).

    He has also stated that he will leave a bad review for me in public via my employer's Google listing if I don't take my review down. The threat, of course, is that he wants to drag my employer down because he's got beef with me and that would reflect badly on me. Besides it being completely unfair and irrelevant to the situation we're dealing with here, this is also plain vicious. I'd already looked on Services Ombudsman but they don't seem to cover the filming/media sector so just wondering if anyone knows whom I should be reporting them to.

    I hired this videographer because his company is very highly rated based on Google reviews (vast majority are 5 stars. No 1-3 star reviews at all). But now that I look closer, I noticed that most of the "people" leaving this company great reviews on Google only have just that one review to their name. No history of reviewing any other businesses. I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about what's going on there. Who knows what happened to all the other negative reviews? Got blackmailed out of existence? Who knows...

    Sorry this ran longer than I hoped. It's a ridiculous situation and the legal route doesn't interest me because this company is frankly not worth my time. My goal is to de-escalate the situation and move on. Don't want to take down the review (this was still a free country the last time I checked) but I may revise it so it's less contentious. People should not be bullied into submission, the way he's trying to do here. Thank you in advance to anyone who can help!

    P.S. If there are brides/grooms-to-be out there who want to know which company this is so they can avoid the same troubles, please reach out to me directly.

    27 June Update: he went through with his threat and posted a 1-star review on my employer's Google listing, putting my full name in capital letters in the review and calling me a large number of things that are ridiculous and untrue (eg. "manipulative" - ironic considering he's the one who's publicly denying the authenticity of my review and then threatening me in private.
    Last edited by pawntoc5; 28-06-2019 at 9:18 PM. Reason: update
Page 1
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 14th Jun 19, 8:16 PM
    • 17,725 Posts
    • 13,837 Thanks
    hollydays
    • #2
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:16 PM
    • #2
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:16 PM
    I'm not sure who's in the wrong but you could simply name him here if you're convinced it's him
    How exactly can he leave a bad review for you , and as he's put it in writing it wouldn't be be hard to prove, you just prewarn your company.
    There are are laws on harassment.
    Your opinion that the footage was poor is subjective.

    How many reviews did he have?
    wOuld it not have been better to ask for a reference, rather than rely on onlnevrwviews.
    Some people might have found his services ok for the money.
    Last edited by hollydays; 14-06-2019 at 8:26 PM.
    • pawntoc5
    • By pawntoc5 14th Jun 19, 8:19 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    pawntoc5
    • #3
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:19 PM
    • #3
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:19 PM
    "Delayed" as in we were told it was to be 3-6 months for footage to be ready. It took 8+ months. And yes, reviews are always going to be subjective - but for him to threaten to sue and to stalk me in my personal life and involve my employer? That's not warranted.
    • Aylesbury Duck
    • By Aylesbury Duck 14th Jun 19, 8:24 PM
    • 4,667 Posts
    • 6,248 Thanks
    Aylesbury Duck
    • #4
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:24 PM
    • #4
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:24 PM
    You can tell the police but I'm not sure what they'll do about it at this stage. Personally I'd just explain the situation to your employer, family and friends and let the guy do what he wants. Once he's had what he considers revenge he'll be bored and moved on.
    • pinkshoes
    • By pinkshoes 14th Jun 19, 8:28 PM
    • 16,690 Posts
    • 23,138 Thanks
    pinkshoes
    • #5
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:28 PM
    • #5
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:28 PM
    Did you get a refund for the poor quality work? If not, then decide whether to leave the review, or reply stating that if you receive a full/partial refund of X then you will remove/improve the review.
    Should've = Should HAVE (not 'of')
    Would've = Would HAVE (not 'of')

    No, I am not perfect, but yes I do judge people on their use of basic English language. If you didn't know the above, then learn it! (If English is your second language, then you are forgiven!)
    • pawntoc5
    • By pawntoc5 14th Jun 19, 8:32 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    pawntoc5
    • #6
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:32 PM
    • #6
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:32 PM
    How exactly can he leave a bad review for you , and as he's put it in writing it wouldn't be be hard to prove, you just prewarn your company.
    Originally posted by hollydays
    He'd google my employer and under their Google listing (which appears on the right hand side of first page results) leave a bad review for me. Whilst I can warn my company in advance, I imagine it's more of a hassle for the employer to have a bad review, never mind what it's for. Much better to sort it out ourselves and keep the employers out of it since it really shouldn't impact them.
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 14th Jun 19, 8:32 PM
    • 17,725 Posts
    • 13,837 Thanks
    hollydays
    • #7
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:32 PM
    • #7
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:32 PM
    Hello all! I need a bit of help -

    Short version: my husband and I hired a videographer/his film company for our wedding last year but the footage was poor and very delayed, beyond the timeframe that was represented to us. I posted a 2 star review on Google and the videographer responded publicly by denying its authenticity, claiming that I am "not a genuine client" and that my review is false. At the same time, he emailed me and threatened to sue if I don't take down the review. He also threatened, amongst other things, to call me at my workplace and involve my employer if I don't respond. This is obviously insane since I've got so much proof that I am a genuine client (eg. payment, emails). I also find the blackmail tactics despicable.

    My question: Does anyone know if there are authorities I can report them to? Consumers should not have to put up with this sort of outrageous attacks, especially when the vendor himself is doing the lying.

    Long version: in addition to the above threats (which he might well follow through on… hard to say.) he has done a number of other disturbing things, including tracking my husband down on LinkedIn (I guess he wanted to find out which company to call if he did want to involve our employers) and finding out who my employer is (I'd never told him directly).

    He has also stated that he will leave a bad review for me in public via my employer's Google listing if I don't take my review down. The threat, of course, is that he wants to drag my employer down because he's got beef with me and that would reflect badly on me. Besides it being completely unfair and irrelevant to the situation we're dealing with here, this is also plain vicious. I'd already looked on Services Ombudsman but they don't seem to cover the filming/media sector so just wondering if anyone knows whom I should be reporting them to.

    I hired this videographer because his company is very highly rated based on Google reviews (vast majority are 5 stars. No 1-3 star reviews at all). But now that I look closer, I noticed that most of the "people" leaving this company great reviews on Google only have just that one review to their name. No history of reviewing any other businesses. I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about what's going on there. Who knows what happened to all the other negative reviews? Got blackmailed out of existence? Who knows...

    Sorry this ran longer than I hoped. It's a ridiculous situation and the legal route doesn't interest me because this company is frankly not worth my time. My goal is to de-escalate the situation and move on. Don't want to take down the review (this was still a free country the last time I checked) but I may revise it so it's less contentious. People should not be bullied into submission, the way he's trying to do here. Thank you in advance to anyone who can help!

    P.S. If there are brides/grooms-to-be out there who want to know which company this is so they can avoid the same troubles, please reach out to me directly.
    Originally posted by pawntoc5
    I'm not sure if you've added the bit about him suing you, but what could he sue you for?

    When you say he's tracked your husband down on LinkedIn, yes LinkedIn does tell you if someone has looked you up, but I wouldn't class that as stalking,
    Last edited by hollydays; 14-06-2019 at 8:34 PM.
    • pawntoc5
    • By pawntoc5 14th Jun 19, 8:33 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    pawntoc5
    • #8
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:33 PM
    • #8
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:33 PM
    Did you get a refund for the poor quality work? If not, then decide whether to leave the review, or reply stating that if you receive a full/partial refund of X then you will remove/improve the review.
    Originally posted by pinkshoes
    No; no refund at all.
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 14th Jun 19, 8:37 PM
    • 17,725 Posts
    • 13,837 Thanks
    hollydays
    • #9
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:37 PM
    • #9
    • 14th Jun 19, 8:37 PM
    He'd google my employer and under their Google listing (which appears on the right hand side of first page results) leave a bad review for me. Whilst I can warn my company in advance, I imagine it's more of a hassle for the employer to have a bad review, never mind what it's for. Much better to sort it out ourselves and keep the employers out of it since it really shouldn't impact them.
    Originally posted by pawntoc5

    I think it's quite simple to inform your employer now, so they can remove the review if it appears!
    • pawntoc5
    • By pawntoc5 14th Jun 19, 8:42 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    pawntoc5
    I'm not sure if you've added the bit about him suing you, but what could he sue you for?
    Originally posted by hollydays
    He's saying for libel, but who knows? This is a person who's willing to deny publicly and attack/blackmail privately, so not sure what chain of logic he subscribes to. Have had others look at this and they're all confirming that I'm not the problem here; his attitude and approach is.
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 14th Jun 19, 8:44 PM
    • 17,725 Posts
    • 13,837 Thanks
    hollydays
    Libels very expensive and not applicable if it's the truth.
    Would you care to post your review.
    He's saying for libel, but who knows? This is a person who's willing to deny publicly and attack/blackmail privately, so not sure what chain of logic he subscribes to. Have had others look at this and they're all confirming that I'm not the problem here; his attitude and approach is.
    Originally posted by pawntoc5
    I think you need to cam down, it's a silly spat.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 14th Jun 19, 8:44 PM
    • 13,124 Posts
    • 14,914 Thanks
    davidmcn
    I don't think you can really do much about somebody leaving bogus reviews (unless they actually amount to libel), and even less about somebody who has merely threatened to leave bogus reviews.
    • pawntoc5
    • By pawntoc5 14th Jun 19, 8:45 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    pawntoc5
    I think it's quite simple to inform your employer now, so they can remove the review if it appears!
    Originally posted by hollydays
    I'm thinking of the bigger picture - how unfair it is that he's blackmailing people into removing negative reviews so his online presence is skewed and not representative of what his company is like. I want to warn others about his questionable business tactics, which is why the more important thing here is whether there's a governing body that oversees business ethics and practices.
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 14th Jun 19, 8:47 PM
    • 17,725 Posts
    • 13,837 Thanks
    hollydays
    .
    I'm thinking of the bigger picture - how unfair it is that he's blackmailing people into removing negative reviews so his online presence is skewed and not representative of what his company is like. I want to warn others about his questionable business tactics, which is why the more important thing here is whether there's a governing body that oversees business ethics and practices.
    Originally posted by pawntoc5
    No there's not in this case.
    If you want to warn others, name him here.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 14th Jun 19, 8:50 PM
    • 13,124 Posts
    • 14,914 Thanks
    davidmcn
    I want to warn others about his questionable business tactics
    Originally posted by pawntoc5
    Well, you'd need to start by naming him.

    which is why the more important thing here is whether there's a governing body that oversees business ethics and practices.
    There is no general "governing body of business ethics and practices", no. Some (a minority) of particular types of business are regulated. The vast majority, including photographers, aren't.
    • stragglebod
    • By stragglebod 14th Jun 19, 8:51 PM
    • 822 Posts
    • 743 Thanks
    stragglebod
    I suspect bluster. If he genuinely thought he had a case he wouldn't be wasting time tracking down your and your husband's employers, he'd be getting on and sending the letter before action and getting on with suing you.

    This is just my personal opinion of course but my approach would be to contact him once and once only, thanking him for getting in touch, telling him that the review is accurate and will not be removed or edited, and that I won't be entering into any further discussion about it.

    I'd leave out any mention of harassment because I suspect he's not actually going to follow through with any of it. But if he did, I'd be on to the police.

    Threatening to sue isn't harassment - after all that's basically what a letter before action is - but threatening to make false allegations to an employer certainly is.

    I agree with @hollydays about warning your employer about the possibility of a malicious review
    • kazwookie
    • By kazwookie 14th Jun 19, 8:51 PM
    • 10,981 Posts
    • 130,697 Thanks
    kazwookie
    I'd be telling him to get on with it and leave his reviews / sue you.

    Then I'd tell him to jog on

    Then I suggest you jog on in the other direction and get on with your life, blocking him from your social media / emails etc.
    Sun, Sea

    • pawntoc5
    • By pawntoc5 15th Jun 19, 2:46 PM
    • 20 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    pawntoc5
    I suspect bluster. If he genuinely thought he had a case he wouldn't be wasting time tracking down your and your husband's employers, he'd be getting on and sending the letter before action and getting on with suing you.

    This is just my personal opinion of course but my approach would be to contact him once and once only, thanking him for getting in touch, telling him that the review is accurate and will not be removed or edited, and that I won't be entering into any further discussion about it.

    I'd leave out any mention of harassment because I suspect he's not actually going to follow through with any of it. But if he did, I'd be on to the police.

    Threatening to sue isn't harassment - after all that's basically what a letter before action is - but threatening to make false allegations to an employer certainly is.

    I agree with @hollydays about warning your employer about the possibility of a malicious review
    Originally posted by stragglebod
    Good shout. Thanks.

    Yeah in terms of harassment I definitely had the whole "going beyond the boundaries of this transaction (ie. me and the videographer)" in mind. Threatening to involve unrelated parties (ie. my employer) with the clear intent of causing distress to me is definitely harassment. Just as I wouldn't go on his personal Facebook and try to contact his connections about him, he shouldn't be going beyond the boundaries of this transaction.

    I wouldn't name him here because 1) it would have limited effect compared to reporting his business practices to an authority (at least, that's what I had in mind when first posting) and 2) he seems a bit unstable and will probably go nuts again citing libel if he thinks he's been wronged in a public space. Anyway, pretty sure I have a good idea how to handle this now. Cheers, everyone!
    • Manxman in exile
    • By Manxman in exile 16th Jun 19, 10:10 AM
    • 2,890 Posts
    • 2,601 Thanks
    Manxman in exile
    Suing you for libel would be very expensive.


    I'd warn your employer and I'd tell the guy you've got the problem with that you've done so. Ask him if he wants your employer to sue him if he starts leaving malicious reviews. (I'm sure your employer has more resources than you do.)


    Obviously your employer wouldn't sue (well - they might) but it's worth indirectly "suggesting" as a possibility. eg "Well go ahead if you like - but you should know that my employer takes their reputation very seriously".
    • steampowered
    • By steampowered 16th Jun 19, 10:32 AM
    • 3,641 Posts
    • 3,754 Thanks
    steampowered
    It sounds like bluster.

    I would write back stating that approaching third parties in the manner he describes would constitute harassment contrary to the Protection From Harassment Act 1997, which would both constitute a criminal offence (for which he would be reported to the police) and a civil cause of action (for which you would start court proceedings).

    I would also be tempted to state that he was in breach of contract due to the poor nature of the services provided, requesting a full refund, along with a statement that you will be starting court action to recover a full refund by way of a county court judgment (backed up by the use of bailiffs to enforce the judgment by taking control of goods if needs be) if the photographer continues to harass you.

    Hopefully that would lead to a form of stalemate where you can both move on.

    Frankly you are in the stronger position. Due to how the court system has been set up, suing someone for a refund and/or for harassment is much easier than cheaper than suing someone for libel !!!!
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