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Question DetailsAsked on 12/13/2011

A business I used threatened to sue me if I make a report - can they do that?

I had a bad experience with a business and told them I would report the problem on AL. The owner threatened to sue me if I gave him a bad report. Any experience with this?

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7 Answers

Voted Best Answer

We can't offer legal advice, but we can tell you no Angie's List member has ever been successfully sued for a report they have submitted to us.

Please let us know the name of the company who's threatened you--we take action against those who attempt to stifle our members' right to fee speech, including removing them from search results and placing notifications on their profiles.

Angie's List does NOT allow any actions that would manipulate the data available to our service, including companies who threaten members (legal or otherwise) that have reported or would like to report.

Answered 8 years ago by Cas


Anyone can sue anybody over just about anything. Can they win? That's a whole other question. In most cases that have gone to court, a large percentage being doctors and dentists, have tried to sue over a negative review and have lost. The courts ruling in favor of free speech.

What the courts are now looking at and have yet to rule on are reviews written after signing a "mutual privacy agreement" which basically says any review you write is the property of that business. The agreement being designed to basically allow the business to come after you over a review as a breach of contract. Most legal experts expect that it to will fail in favor of free speech.

“This is a form of bullying, and it’s absurd that this could possibly be an enforceable contract,” said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. ”It infringes upon free speech and you can’t just have that waived away on a silence contract.”

For more information visit Get Great Reviews Now


Answered 8 years ago by GetGreatReviewsNow


It's important thhat AL members are truthfull about their reporting and don't utilize the reporting mechanism as a vehicle for revenge. The whole AL premiss is based on honesty and members have an unusual opportunity to view objective, thorough information about a contractor being considered. They are able to check references and really put themselves in the shoes of prior member/homeowners. Unfortunately the Contractoor has no way of reviewing (beforehand) the ethics and practices of prospective member/purchasers. I am here to tell you first hand that II have atually been extorted by members who have threatened bad reviews if I didn't lower my bill or provide free service. In on case last year, after stopping work on a job when I was allmost completely finished, a member decided they didn't want to pay their bill so they entered a false report into my record. The lies this customer/member entered into my profile record cost me thousands in lost revenues last year. We strongly considered levaing the AL network altogether.

Just remember that as a member you hold a great deal of power and with that power comes a responsibility to report acurate informatio, not thoughts based solely on emotion. Contractors do have a right to sue members and after consulting my lawyer I was told that I had grounds for a healthy defamation suit and probably would have one a great deal of money after a ciivil trial. Keep in mind, I had a consistant record of straight A's and had one sever AL awards for excellance. AL informed me that I would be removed from the roster if I did sue a member. The only reason I didn't sue the member was because I had too much to loose by having my AL afiliation taken away. About 75% of my customers find me on Angie's List. In this case the member, who incidentally only joined AL because they new how important my afiliation was to me, and to file this false report was motivated by greed and a lack of morality. They simply didn't want to have to pay any money after we had provided weeks of uninterupted service almost to completion. Be honest. Be true to yourself and everyone around you.

Glen Schweitzer
The Deck Doctor of Asheville, NC


Answered 8 years ago by Jalapenobros


This sounds familiar.

In my case, I took a contractor to court after he walked off the job. There were plenty of photos detailing his inept workmanship, expert witnesses, letters from manufacturers verifying incorrect procedure and so on and so forth. I was grateful to know there was a place like Angieslist to report him when it was over, and to protect other consumers from falling victim to him. My reporting campaign commenced after the legal drama ended.

And within days, I received a threatening letter from his attorney stating he would have "no option but to take legal action" if I continued to report on his crooked client. Instead of backing down, I consulted with a few libel/slander attorneys to see what my rights were and how to go about doing this the right way.

Each of them said as long as I was reporting on issues that could be proven, and photos do just that, that reporting on my experience was fine. They warned that anyone could be sued for anything at any time, but quite often, threats to sue are usually attempts to bully a customer into backing down. These types of cases are typically heard by juries. This type of case is about your first amendement right to free speech...

Either way, you must be truthful and responsible when reporting anything. ggive information that can be proven, in the event you are sued. Use phrasing like "in my opinion" or "my personal opinion is" when describing things that cannot be proven, otherwise, risk those statements being construed as fact. "IMO, Bob is not only a moron, but void of ethics as well" is fine.

Answered 7 years ago by ethostrace


I think Angie's List needs to step in. I just updated a report on a contractor who did not finish the top of a pergola his crew sanded/refinished and now three years later it has rotted because it was left in a raw state on top. Unfortunately I had never climbed a ladder and saw the damage until recently. When I updated the report I received a call from the contractor accusing me of lying, of having a 30 year old pergola (it was built in 2005, the work was done in late summer 2011), of him having done me a "favor" (I asked how much he would charge and paid him the requested amount, I don't see that as a favor), etc. It was so confrontational it made me question the entire system of writing truthful reviews.

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9308902


Angies List is wrong. You do not have the ability to prevent someone from being sued. Anyone can sue anyone for anything.

Tell me something Angies List:

I have been told by other business owners that pay for advertising on Angies list is a crap shoot. Anyone can post what they want. People can post feedback that is erroneous, a competitor masking as a former client, a disgruntled employee, or a just a naturally bitter person that was successfully served yet always unhappy. I have been told that no matter what, the opinion of the people stays. This is an obviously flawed system. Anyone can post a negative comment, right wrong or indifferent. What is your protocol to ensure the truth is being told and not out-right slander and defamation of character?

A person’s opinion, if slander and or defamation of character, that has no merit, is a lawsuit that can be the nightmare of an opinionated troublemaker.

I implore you to devise checks and balances. The only tried and true merit system is the BBB. They will act as a third party to settle disputes. An erroneous dispute will never be posted and subject a company to illegitimate comments.

Source: I have great feedback. Sources - other businesses that are unable to remove a competitors hate comments posing as a former client!

Answered 4 years ago by laufwifme


In My Opinion: If the vendor is a member of the BBB, and a "legitamate claim" is submitted, the BBB will help the consumer settle the claim or the business will have a "Credible Downgraded Rating".

In My Opinion: Angie's List is not a credible source of commentary.

Source: See the BBB Complaint Process! Difficult to ruin an honest company and easy to submit a claim that has merit!

Source: BBB -

Answered 4 years ago by laufwifme


To anyone on this thread, do you know where you can send this info to >> "Please let us know the name of the company who's threatened you--we take action against those who attempt to stifle our members' right to fee speech, including removing them from search results and placing notifications on their profiles" >> as suggested by the first answer? I can't find the contact info and have tried emailing AL and asking, but have recieved no response so far...

Answered 3 years ago by guest10000

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