Yelp Reviewer Must Pay Contractor $1,000

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Be careful how you word a negative review on Yelp, it could end up costing you big money.

“Terms such as ‘scam,’ ‘con artist’ and ‘robs’ imply actions approaching criminal wrongdoing rather than someone who failed to live up to the terms of a contract,” Straniere wrote. "They were personal in their invective and were designed to impugn his integrity and business practices with the intent to damage his business reputation," the judge said, ordering Fanelli to pay Gardiner $1000.
 

sfsuphysics

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Yup was going to say, if you badmouuth someone and say you don't like the job that's one thing, if you call him a con artist, you better have proof of it, your displeasure in his work does not mean that you were scammed out of money, it was simply a matter of you got a shitty product"
 

dandirk

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Yup was going to say, if you badmouuth someone and say you don't like the job that's one thing, if you call him a con artist, you better have proof of it, your displeasure in his work does not mean that you were scammed out of money, it was simply a matter of you got a shitty product"

Basically people need to control themselves and be professional.

From the quoted posts I wouldn't believe a word she said about what she was promised and what she received. Hard to be on her side.

On the other hand home improvement is a horrible industry for customers. It's not like buying a device where the product is static and reviewers are reporting on the same item. Everything is subjective and variable. You can ask the good questions and still get screwed and recourse is generally very expensive. Users like her don't help matters because when I read a bad review like hers I throw it out as a crazy won't be happy with anything.

There are scammers all over the place and its not like you get your kitchen redone every 2 years to learn what to watch out for etc.
 

dandirk

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Yup was going to say, if you badmouuth someone and say you don't like the job that's one thing, if you call him a con artist, you better have proof of it, your displeasure in his work does not mean that you were scammed out of money, it was simply a matter of you got a shitty product"

Basically people need to control themselves and be professional.

From the quoted posts I wouldn't believe a word she said about what she was promised and what she received. Hard to be on her side.

On the other hand home improvement is a horrible industry for customers. It's not like buying a device where the product is static and reviewers are reporting on the same item. Everything is subjective and variable. You can ask good questions and still get screwed and recourse is generally very expensive. Users like her don't help matters because when I read a bad review like hers I throw it out as a crazy won't be happy with anything.

There are scammers all over the place and its not like you get your kitchen redone every 2 years to learn what to watch out for etc.
 

Darunion

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wow the things she said....Yea I actually can get behind this because that can seriously damage a business. A close friend does flooring and has had to battle with people that try to complain about the floor and then sue in an effort to get the work done for free. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a similar scenario. I have also see someone get their whole car resprayed and then want it to be free after they found a scratch on the inside of the cabin.
 

Red Squirrel

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Some hotels will actually do the same thing if you give them a bad review. To me this should be illegal as it goes against free speech. But guess there is a fine line between what is considered free speech and what is considered slander. She was probably closer to the slander side.

It's best to not review so soon after a job is done too, as it's kinda obvious who the reviewer is if the contractor only had a few jobs on the go during that time period. Same with a hotel, don't start your review with "I was there for a wedding..." Some hotels will actually charge the wedding organizer's credit card for each bad review.
 

lcpiper

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It's one thing to tell people of the problems you had, the issues you had with their service or product. But when you read what the person is saying and follow multiple comments and it takes on the feel of someone who is pursuing a vendetta, that's when you know the person is going beyond what is reasonable and protected speech.
 

Cyraxx

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"Kyle took my money..." (sentence ends in 'and completed the transaction')

OH NO! I said Kyle committed a crime of taking my monies! This is downright pathetic. You can make anything SOUND like criminal accusations if you take what words you want and cherry pick.

I'm sorry but this isn't yelling Fire in a theater. This should be freedom of speech, and no one should pay for their opinion when they say that they felt deceived/conned from a transaction.
 

Cyraxx

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Some of you missed this little gem:

He also denied her bid to force Mr. Sandless to pay for the money she spent on another contractor, but said the company did have to pay her $400 because it didn’t have the proper licenses to do the work in her home.

If you call an electrician and ask them to do electrical work on your house...

They totally butcher everything, screw things up worse then they were....

How are they NOT a con artist for not being a qualified electrician that they claimed to be?
 

sfsuphysics

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Not being licensed to do work does not translate to a scammer, a con artist nor someone who robs you. A license in and of itself does not bestow a proof of competency, and the opposite holds true as well.

If you hire an electrician that butchers everything, they did a shitty job, they did not con you out of anything. Now if the Mr Sandless guy made claims about his technique that are untrue, then she really needs to be able to show this to be the case, one bad job does not translate to a product that does not work as intended. That said, no way I would believe that you can refinish hardwood floors without sanding them.
 

sfsuphysics

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(crap lack of edit)

However, if he did in fact declare he was a licensed to do this work when in fact he wasn't then she'd have a case. However it seemed a lot of what she said was a direct attack on character and not on his qualification.
"this con artist told me he a license to do this kind of work..." is different than "this con artist did a shitty job"
 

overclock

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If the proprietor of the business does not have a license then probably is not remitting the sales tax and probably not paying federal or state income taxes on his earnings. If this is all true then suing this lady could be the stupidest thing he's ever done. But that would mean that a government employee would have to research the topic. In that case he's safe.
 

Bdonedge

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Yelp is the biggest scam of a company. If you trust the mouth breathers that write reviews on yelp to make any decision on local businesses, you're part of the problem

Fuck this guy and fuck yelp
 

GaryJohnson

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http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/25/nyregion/25bard.html?_r=0

In 14 years on the bench, Judge Straniere has built a following for entertaining judicial writing that tends to take some twists and turns. He has been known to opine for no obvious reason that Papa John’s does not sell what New Yorkers call pizza and that Clark Kent “was in fact only a person who understood the difference between right and wrong.”

The judge in this case... SMH.
 

INFINITE

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Not being licensed to do work does not translate to a scammer, a con artist nor someone who robs you. A license in and of itself does not bestow a proof of competency, and the opposite holds true as well.

The company provided services without legal merit (a license). Therefore all judgments should be null and void. What that lady did wasn't pretty but there is no way in hell she should pay $1,000 to a company that ILLEGALLY provided those services!
 

nightanole

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The company provided services without legal merit (a license). Therefore all judgments should be null and void. What that lady did wasn't pretty but there is no way in hell she should pay $1,000 to a company that ILLEGALLY provided those services!

And she got $400 back from the company for providing services without a license. So the net amount is $600.

If the company claimed it was licensed should could have sued. Hell she could have posted anything that didnt allude to criminal wrong doing and she would only be out like $200 (she paid $600ish and got back $400).

In her mind she wants a full refund, and a new floor provided by a new company, paid for by the old company.

Still, Pics or it didnt happen.
 

sfsuphysics

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The company provided services without legal merit (a license). Therefore all judgments should be null and void. What that lady did wasn't pretty but there is no way in hell she should pay $1,000 to a company that ILLEGALLY provided those services!
Well I'm not going to argue what she should pay, but the judge was spot on in that she was using terminology that implied criminal intent, note that working without a license was not one of the terms she was using. Did the guy run away with her money? No, did he do a subpar job? Yes, did he attempt to fix it? Yes, did he succeed to her expectations? No. None of those things make him a scammer, a con artist or robber.

Having a license would only impact the work that was done. If anything people should be upset at what she got out of it, $400? What was that? The cost she paid? Then talk to someone who refinishes floors to find out how much it would take to fix what was done, and use that as the basis of your lawsuit, I guarantee it'll be more than $400 or even $1000.
 

Methadras

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Basically people need to control themselves and be professional.</i>

Hard to fight that in the current entitlement culture we have in the US today.

From the quoted posts I wouldn't believe a word she said about what she was promised and what she received. Hard to be on her side.

On the other hand home improvement is a horrible industry for customers. It's not like buying a device where the product is static and reviewers are reporting on the same item. Everything is subjective and variable. You can ask the good questions and still get screwed and recourse is generally very expensive. Users like her don't help matters because when I read a bad review like hers I throw it out as a crazy won't be happy with anything.

There are scammers all over the place and its not like you get your kitchen redone every 2 years to learn what to watch out for etc.

That's why services like Angie's List exist. They are vetted vendors and their reputations are beholden to millions of people who use them. It's not a bad way to go for filtering out sub-standard contractors.
 

Exavior

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The impression I get from the article is that the contractor is licensed just not for that part of NY. So maybe he is licensed for some area outside of the city or something and that is why he only had to pay her back part of what she paid. Looking at an article from a few years ago they actually had trouble to the point where they were setting up ways to bait unlicensed contractor to homes and once they agreed to do work they would impound their vehicles. The fact that not seems to have been legally done here and they said he wasn't licensed for her city, makes me think this was a little different than some random guy off the street.

As for the case in general. I can understand her frustration to a degree, however they did try to do work. So that isn't a scam. Just a bad job being done. She did go over the line in her statements. This would be on par with you going into the dr with a cold, they give you meds and they don't get rid of your cold so you go online and start reporting the doctor for mal practice.
 

sfsuphysics

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That's why services like Angie's List exist. They are vetted vendors and their reputations are beholden to millions of people who use them. It's not a bad way to go for filtering out sub-standard contractors.
I thought it was more like Diamond Certification, where contractors pay money to get listed, and as long as they don't have too many complaints they won't be kicked out.
 

Stiler

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To me, from reading this, I believe this kind of thing should definitely be in freedom of speech protection.

]Also what she called them, how is that wrong?

I quote directly from the article and judgement:

"the company did have to pay her $400 because it didn’t have the proper licenses to do the work in her home.

Hmm, what do you call people that do business they aren't licensed to do? Could you say they were lying, deceptive, etc? Cause that's what people that are con artist/scams do.

So please tell me, how this guy WASN'T what she said? If someone gets paid to do a job and the job sucks (like she said, it was peeling and wasn't like it was supposed to be) how is that not scamming or dishonest?
 

Exavior

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To me, from reading this, I believe this kind of thing should definitely be in freedom of speech protection.

]Also what she called them, how is that wrong?

I quote directly from the article and judgement:

"the company did have to pay her $400 because it didn’t have the proper licenses to do the work in her home.

Hmm, what do you call people that do business they aren't licensed to do? Could you say they were lying, deceptive, etc? Cause that's what people that are con artist/scams do.

So please tell me, how this guy WASN'T what she said? If someone gets paid to do a job and the job sucks (like she said, it was peeling and wasn't like it was supposed to be) how is that not scamming or dishonest?

First question is did they claim to be licensed in her area? That part could be an honest mistake. I don't know how licensing works there. But for example the town that I live in has an area that is part of the same postal area so address wise they would be in the same town. However they are in a different county. So somebody not 100% familiar with this area could accidently take a job in what they think is 1 city, 1 county and yet actually be in a different county where they might not be licensed to do said work. Could be the same here maybe, I don't know how New York does it licensing but could it have been something similar where they were licensed for one area and didn't realize they were crossing into an area they weren't licensed for? Go look at the site, http://www.mrsandless.com this isn't some small 1 guy with a trunk company. This is a national chain with offices all over the place. So it really comes down to the branch that did the work and what they did wrong there. Did they send out a crew from a different office and they weren't licensed for that area? Or did that person that whos that franchised branch not have all the paperwork he was supposed to. There is a lot there not known.

As for scam. A scam is a where you plan to deceive a customer. For example, I sell you a laptop and mail you a brick. That is a scam. Or I sell you what I claim to be a working laptop and when you get it the motherboard is shot and it won't boot. That is a scam. if I sell you a laptop fully thinking that it works fine, you get said laptop and it works for 2 weeks then the hard drive fails, that isn't a scam that is just bad luck. If you buy a car and 2 weeks later it has problems that the dealer didn't know about that is bad luck, if the dealer knew about the issues and did something to make them not appear for a few weeks till after they sold the car then that is a scam. In this case, did they do the job like they normally do and it just not work for her floors? If so then they aren't scamming her, things just didn't work out and that is all. Maybe there was some chemical she used before and didn't tell them about that didn't react as exacted the first time. Maybe there was some other issue. They came out and did the job, there were issues and they came out and tried again to fix the issue. So they were trying to do work, they didn't just take her money and run which would be a scam. It really just sounds like they didn't do a quality job, which is different than trying to just steal money from a customer.
 

MrGuvernment

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Good, far too many people go off because they can't control their emotions and think threatening people will solve anything.
 

mope54

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First question is did they claim to be licensed in her area? That part could be an honest mistake. I don't know how licensing works there. But for example the town that I live in has an area that is part of the same postal area so address wise they would be in the same town. However they are in a different county. So somebody not 100% familiar with this area could accidently take a job in what they think is 1 city, 1 county and yet actually be in a different county where they might not be licensed to do said work. Could be the same here maybe, I don't know how New York does it licensing but could it have been something similar where they were licensed for one area and didn't realize they were crossing into an area they weren't licensed for? Go look at the site, http://www.mrsandless.com this isn't some small 1 guy with a trunk company. This is a national chain with offices all over the place. So it really comes down to the branch that did the work and what they did wrong there. Did they send out a crew from a different office and they weren't licensed for that area? Or did that person that whos that franchised branch not have all the paperwork he was supposed to. There is a lot there not known.

As for scam. A scam is a where you plan to deceive a customer. For example, I sell you a laptop and mail you a brick. That is a scam. Or I sell you what I claim to be a working laptop and when you get it the motherboard is shot and it won't boot. That is a scam. if I sell you a laptop fully thinking that it works fine, you get said laptop and it works for 2 weeks then the hard drive fails, that isn't a scam that is just bad luck. If you buy a car and 2 weeks later it has problems that the dealer didn't know about that is bad luck, if the dealer knew about the issues and did something to make them not appear for a few weeks till after they sold the car then that is a scam. In this case, did they do the job like they normally do and it just not work for her floors? If so then they aren't scamming her, things just didn't work out and that is all. Maybe there was some chemical she used before and didn't tell them about that didn't react as exacted the first time. Maybe there was some other issue. They came out and did the job, there were issues and they came out and tried again to fix the issue. So they were trying to do work, they didn't just take her money and run which would be a scam. It really just sounds like they didn't do a quality job, which is different than trying to just steal money from a customer.
I've never of someone being licensed by ZIP code. State licenses, yes, but never had to get one myself for each town I lived in nor find out if someone was licensed in every town I've lived in. Even if NY is bizarre in that regard in ways that dozens of ZIP codes in LA, OC, or SD aren't, the contractor better make sure he's operating in an area he has a valid license or he's the one on the hook--not the customer.

That explanation you provided stretches the boundaries of credibility.

Aside from that, I looked at the website and the first thing that pops up is "100% Guaranteed satisfaction or you don't pay."

If they made her pay and she wasn't satisfied then that's a scam.
 
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