Zwick Window Shade Co., a Chicago business, has a novel approach to business. When a husband and wife were not happy with their service and wrote a slightly negative review on Yelp, the company sued the couple for libel. It is one of a growing number of such cases where businesses seek to punish those who express their views about service.
The couple complained that she and her husband never received a set of blinds ordered from Zwick:
“Still waiting on blinds ordered nearly 4 months ago that were supposed to take 3 to 6 weeks.” The comments were balanced overall with the couple writing that “My husband and I like to support small, family-run businesses when doing home improvement projects.” What is particularly remarkable about this case is that they gave the business a two-star review that said that Zwick’s service was excellent, but the delay in receiving the product was frustrating. It was over four months after the Oct. 16, 2013 purchase that Zwick delivered and installed the blinds.
The company actually went to court to claim that, since the blinds were eventually delivered, the Yelp review is making “misrepresentations about the alleged non-delivery of the blinds” and is essentially false. The company hired lawyers to threaten the couple that “In the event that your [Yelp] statement is not removed within five days from the date of this letter, my client intends to pursue all remedies available to him at law and equity . . . In addition, you must not publicly publish this event in the future.” They later sued for no less than $50,000 in damages and that the review be taken down.
These lawsuits are in my view inherently abusive and thuggish. This was clearly an opinion by customers based on the delay by the company. The fact that this company would threaten dissatisfied customers is a far more worrisome fact than the four-month delay. The company clearly has a different view of what constitutes blind[s] justice.