Casey Movers Threatens To Sue Me Over Bad Review

Today my wife received a certified letter from Casey Movers asking her to remove a negative Yelp review or they would sue for libel in District Court in Massachusetts.

Casey Movers threatening letter over bad review

Casey Movers threatening legal action over bad review

I will admit that this may actually be a rogue sales manager at Casey Movers trying to do something helpful but actually making the situation worse! The fact that the author couldn’t even get the opening sentence right makes me wonder. The certified letter was not on company letterhead or in a company branded envelope.

Casey Movers letterhead?

Casey Movers letterhead?

Matthew Overstreet's Internet marketing experience

click to enlarge

The letter was signed by Matthew Overstreet – Sales Manager. Is Matthew Overstreet just clueless about online reputation management? According to his website (which he has taken down and let the domain lapse) he was the “Co-owner of an internet marketing company.” from 2008 – 2010 (screenshot of old matthewoverstreet.com site), so he should know better.

Let’s move forward with the assumption that everyone at Casey Movers was aware of this letter and that it is the way they want to deal with negative Yelp reviews. I understand their concern, when you search Google for casey movers the second result is the Yelp reviews – which are both negative.

google search results for casey movers

google search results for casey movers

That sucks for Casey Movers, but rather than fix the problems and deal with the complaints, they have chosen to try to intimidate the people who have left the reviews. Kristen left a review in May of 2011, they respond 13 months later and threaten to sue 18 months after the review went live.

Casey Movers responding to Yelp reviews 13 months later

Casey Movers responding to Yelp reviews 13 months later

Casey movers also has had 11 reviews completely removed for violating Yelp’s content guidelines or their terms of service. All 11 of the removed reviews appeared between 12/27/2011 and 1/10/2012. That’s not very subtle. None of the reviewers have any other reviews in the system and their user profile pages are no longer available.

Casey Movers reviews banned by Yelp

Casey Movers has had 11 reviews banned by Yelp

If the ORM style is to sue everyone who leaves a bad review, I wonder how many letters Matthew had to send out considering that Casey Movers has 24 complaints logged against them with the Better Business Bureau, 16 complaints against Casey Movers in just the past 12 months.

Casey Movers' Better Business Bureau complaints

Casey Movers’ Better Business Bureau complaints

Matthew Overstreet makes another appearance in a particularly bad response to a negative review.

One of our estimators provided an estimate to load up the house, and then make a stop at a storage unit to load up and have all delivered to your new house. The storage unit was unseen and did not end up being the typical unit in which you just pull the truck up to as our estimator had anticipated, it was on the second floor and a long walk to a climate controlled section of the facility. This was simply beyond our expectations. Coverage for damages is sixty cents per pound per item. This is the same coverage you get with every moving company. If you have a problem with this, you have a problem with the industry, not Casey. (emphasis mine)

Casey Movers also has a slew of bad reviews at mymovingreviews.com. There’s no reviews for them in Google because they are listed as KIT Moving Corporation (which is also listed at their BBB listing as an “alternate name”).

Someone decided enough was enough and decided to get some good reviews at CitySearch where they now have a majority of good reviews, except there’s a problem, they’re not real reviews. You may ask how I can say that with so much confidence? Go look at them yourself, one after another… notice how most names are generic or don’t have a human photo? Yes that’s level 1 of suspicious reviews. Start looking at the reviews the “people” have left. It’s quite a coincidence that so many people who have used a Boston moving company have also loved a sprinkler repair guy in Anaheim, California and Fun Hawaii Travel out of Honolulu.

They also have a flurry of activity in August of 2012 – Aug 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14. That seems a bit sketchy as well.

Below are the positive reviewers that I feel are most likely bought/spam/bots/unethical and the other businesses they reviewed – I’ll report, you decide:

Fiona C. (Joined 9 months ago – human avatar)

  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • Raymond Lee Jewelers – Boca Raton, FL

Martin C (Joined 1 year ago – human avatar)

  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • Fun Hawaii Travel – Honolulu, HI
  • Sprinkler Repair Guy – Anaheim, CA

Michael T. (Joined 6 months ago – no real avatar)

  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • Garage Door Expert – Norcross, GA

KaiGarcia (Joined 1 year ago – no real avatar)

  • Fun Hawaii Travel – Honolulu, HI
  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • Above Heaven’s Gate – Waimanalo, HI

Dave811 (Joined 1 year ago – no real avatar)

  • Cool Air USA, Inc. – Davie, FL
  • Fun Hawaii Travel – Honolulu, HI
  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • August Lodge Of Cooperstown – Hartwick, NY
  • Affordable Heating Air Cond – Staten Island, NY

natasha russy (Joined 1 year ago – no real avatar)

  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • Sprinkler Repair Guy – Anaheim, CA

ralph007 (Joined 1 year ago – no real avatar)

  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • Waterfront Tavern – Brewerton, NY
  • Affordable Heating Air Cond – Staten Island, NY
  • Solveforce.com T1 Line DS3 Bandwidth Ethernet DSL – Yorba Linda, CA
  • Sprinkler Repair Guy – Anaheim, CA

Grayer (Joined 1 year ago – human avatar)

  • MANKATO WEB DESIGN – MINNEAPOLIS, MN
  • Casey Movers – positive review
  • Fun Hawaii Travel – Honolulu, HI
  • Solveforce.com T1 Line DS3 Bandwidth Ethernet DSL – Yorba Linda, CA

Then there were 9  more reviews on CitySearch that all had very suspicious names, avatars and a single glowing review:

  • Nathan L. (Joined 7 months ago)
  • Steve F. (Joined 9 months ago)
  • Martha M. (Joined 9 months ago)
  • Denise K. (Joined 10 months ago)
  • MeagD (Joined 1 year ago)
  • HDonelly (Joined 1 year ago)
  • TracieO (Joined 1 year ago)
  • Rickfan5 (Joined 1 year ago)
  • JayneP70 (Joined 1 year ago)

I plan on writing to City Search to let them know that I feel Casey Movers profile may be in conflict with their Terms of Use. Specifically the “Falsely state or misrepresent your affiliation with another person or entity” clause.

When Mark Traphagen shared this post on his Google+ account even more evidence surfaced about the way Casey Movers may be trying to manipulate their reviews online. Martin Panayotov runs a site focused specifically on moving company reviews at MyMovingReviews.com.

MyMovingReviews.com suspects Casey Movers posting fake reviews.

Casey Movers Fake Reviews?

How is Casey Movers taking care of their valued customers who have written them a good review? They are posting them to photobucket complete with their phone number and email addresses and then linking them back to their wordpress.com site.

Casey Movers Displays Customer Data

Casey Movers Displays Customer Data

I was dubious of these scanned in reviews, so when I contacted a couple of them this is what I heard back:

  • Thanks for the heads-up and thank goodness I didn’t post any more information on the form, like my addresses! I did give permission for a referral, but not my identity.
  • I do not remember giving anyone permission to post my information anywhere.

The biggest problem that Casey Movers has with their inability to do actual ORM is the lack of a real presence online except for their terrible reviews. They only have a handful of inbound links pointing at their site and one of the most powerful one comes from Ripoff Report.

One additional thing I found while researching if you actually can sue someone over a bad review is that Massachusetts has a SLAPP law in place to help try to avoid situations like this.

Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism.

I stand behind everything in my wife’s original Yelp review of Casey Movers, even if Steve Casey doesn’t really want you to call him on it – sigh.

Casey Movers website says "Call me on it"

from the Casey Movers homepage

[UPDATE: Tuesday evening]

After 4 days without a word from Casey Movers I finally posted to their “business page” on Facebook, which is actually just a personal page that they are using for business.

Casey Movers are socially clueless

I had to personally alert Casey Movers about their ORM problem

After posing on Casey Movers Facebook page, I headed home for the day. When I checked in about 2 hours later, my post was gone. So now I know that they are at least aware that there is something going on.

I decided to repost just in case one of their fans missed it.

Casey Movers can't control their Facebook page

Reposting on the Casey Mover Facebook page

I’m so glad I have great friends from all over the world. Becky Westmoreland (better known as JadedTLC online) noticed what was going on and told me about an ORM presentation at PubCon that Alan Bleiweiss had done stressing NOT to post fake reviews. Alan Bleiweiss is a highly respected SEO and ORM expert and was kind enough to share with me the FTC rules that prohibit fake positive reviews. Apparently the FTC can fine companies up to $500,000 and post the website on a government website as an offender.

[UPDATE: Wednesday morning]

Casey Movers Sales Manager Matthew Overstreet on MySpace

Matthew Overstreet on MySpace

My phone rang as I was leaving the house this morning, it Was Matthew Overstreet. He had seen what I was posting online and wanted to talk to me about it. He said that first off, he did not want to take my wife to court, BUT he had some problems with the negative review she posted. I asked him to shoot me an email, but he said he was worried that email can sometimes be misinterpreted. He said he would call me back at 7pm tonight. Nice to know North Carolina is a “one-party consent” state for recording conversations.

Matthew Overstreet also sent me a friend request on Facebook, which I accepted. I love the quote he has on there:

Casey Movers sales manager is pissed on Facebook

Matthew Overstreet’s Facebook post from 11/10/2012

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

Hopefully I am helping Matthew achieve one of his finest moments.

I also noticed that the documents that once showed the email addresses and phone numbers of their customers have now been altered so that they no longer show – so I feel like I’ve done some good here already!

[UPDATE: Wednesday night - The Call]
I just got off the phone with Matthew Overstreet, the sales manager st Casey Movers that sent me the original letter threatening to sue my wife for libel. He said that he just wanted to try to explain things because “maybe emotions have been running amok”.

He then talked at length about how assessing damages works in the the moving business. When I told him that this isn’t about the amount of damages that Casey Movers paid out to my in-laws, that it is about the letter threatening a libel lawsuit because of a negative review on Yelp!

Matthew admitted that the way he reached out was not the right way and he does not expect us to remove the Yelp review. His concern is that he believes the numbers in the review are wrong and may be misleading. He said he had the checks to prove his point.

He also said that he felt the tone of the review was that if Casey Movers paid more money then Kristen would remove the review. I can tell you that was not and is not the goal of that review. The review was an honest outpouring of frustration with a below average moving experience. My in-laws and Kristen understand that moving is never perfect, and you make certain compromises in the coverage you choose and the company you entrust your all your worldly goods with.

I asked Matthew straight up if he intended to move forward with the lawsuit against my wife. He did not say, “no we don’t”, but he gave the general impression that they wouldn’t.

If the numbers in the negative review Kristen left on Yelp are off, she will update them. Matthew said he would send me a copy of the checks that show exactly what they paid my in-laws. The fact remains that the overall experience with Casey Movers was negative and the review will stay.

I did offer Matthew some unsolicited advice. Whatever company they are using to post good reviews for them, they should fire them because they are terrible.

[UPDATE: Wednesday night - Yelp Updates]

Not surprisingly, there have been some new negative reviews posted to the Casey Movers Yelp page. Most reference this blog post.

[Thursday morning]

I woke up this morning to see a brand new positive Yelp review from a brand new Yelp member. There are some “inconsistencies” in his review that make it a bit suspect in my opinion – let me explain…

Casey Movers brand new fake Yelp review

Brand new faked Yelp review

The new reviewer on Yelp decided to get up before daybreak and create a new Yelp account to leave a review about his moving company, unlikely, but possible. The new reviewer is also smart enough to realize that the first sentence or two is what shows up in the snippet under the link in the search results and writes it to capitalize on that – again, unlikely, but possible.

The reviewer says he called a Boston area moving company from Ohio to help him move. Unlikely, but possible I suppose. Even stranger is that he signed up as living in Columbus, Ohio even though he was ostensibly signing up to leave a review about the moving company that just moved him to Hanover, Ma? That really doesn’t make any sense in my opinion.

The author of the review also has a very rudimentary understanding of keyword stuffing. I’ve highlighted the EIGHT times the reviewer mentions the company name – normal people don’t write like that.

But wait, it gets better… the profile picture. I did a reverse image search and found out that there’s a 99.9% chance that it’s not really the reviewer.

Casey Movers fake Yelp review photo

Is only the image faked?

I honestly thought that Matthew Overstreet and I came to an understanding last night, I guess I was wrong.

[UPDATE - Lots of help]

Today I was lucky enough to hear from a number of attorney’s who offered me all sorts of help and or assistance including Ken from Popehat (which was exciting for me). The one person who may prove to be the most useful is my new BFF Michael Farraher who is an attorney who is frequently in the Hingham court and said he would be happy to stand up for me.

I am also excited to hear what Steve Casey has to say. Alan Bleiweiss called Casey Movers today to get their side of the story for an article he’s writing and was told by the receptionist that their attorney will most likely be the one to call him back.

[UPDATE: Reddit, Consumerist, TechDirt and the Streisand Effect]

Thursday was both amazing and a little scary. This story literally left my control and was in the hands of the Internet. Late Wednesday afternoon Chris Morran, and author for the wildly popular Consumerist posted their own article that explained what was happening with a link back here. By the time I went to bed Wednesday there were an additional few thousand visitors to my site.

Casey Movers on The Consumerist

Casey Movers hits The Consumerist

Thursday morning I found out that RumplePuss had posted the Casey Movers story on Reddit under the JusticePorn subReddit. As sometimes happen, the Reddit community started running with it. By the time I saw it it already had over a thousand upvotes.

Casey Movers on Reddit /r/JusticPorn

Casey Movers on Reddit /r/JusticPorn

After lunch Mike Masnick at TechDirt also posted about it at their super popular site. Interestingly, Mike was the very person who coined the phrase Steisand Effect.

Casey Movers on TechDirt

…and TechDirt

If you’re wondering what having 3 super sites all write/link/talk about you in one day does to your traffic, it’s humbling.

Casey Movers story traffic

off the chart

The other massive movement yesterday was over at Casey Movers’ Yelp reviews. On Saturday when my wife received the letter threatening her with a libel lawsuit if she didn’t take down the review Casey Movers had 2 reviews showing, 81 filtered and 11 removed. Six days later they have 29 reviews showing – most of them referencing this article or it’s sister articles on Consumerist, TechDirt or Reddit and 102 filtered reviews.

Casey Movers new Yelp reviews

Casey Movers new Yelp reviews


[UPDATE: Well, I guess the threat of the lawsuit is now moot]

Time for Casey Movers to declare victory for their ORM campaign!

 

I looked for myself and couldn’t find it either. Weird. I finally thought to check my wife’s email account to see if maybe she had received any notification from Yelp. There it was:

NOV 16, 2012 | 11:05AM PST
Hi Kristen,

We wanted to let you know that we’ve removed your review of Casey Movers. Our Support team has determined that it falls outside our Content Guidelines (http://www.yelp.com/guidelines) because it lacks a firsthand customer experience. When reviewing, please describe your personal experience with a business.

We hope you will continue to participate on Yelp while keeping our Content Guidelines in mind.

We hope you will continue to participate on Yelp, while keeping in mind our Content Guidelines.

Your review:

I’m writing this review for my parents who recently moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina but didn’t know to check Yelp before mistakenly choosing Casey Movers.

Casey Movers was worse than awful. If you only read this far DO NOT HIRE THIS COMPANY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

Found them in the Yellow Pages and before the move they were friendly and responsive. The move cost us $11,000. They promised every item would be bubble-wrapped and then covered with moving blankets… this turned out NOT to be the case at all. They also said they would reassemble anything they took apart (beds etc) but didn’t.

Once we were in our new house it took them almost 2 weeks to deliver our boxes to us! They hired 2 local people totally unknown to them from a manpower type of service to unload the truck. The 2 guys were terrible and damaged walls, furniture and woodwork in our brand new house.

They broke and lost a large number of items including a ceramic egg grill, glassware, 2 boxes of dishes, my grandmothers hope chest and some woodworking tools.

Steve Casey (the owner) saw the damage and told us to just make a list and send it to him and he would take care of it.

As you’ve probably guessed, the “taking care of it” part never happened. I’ve called 6 or 8 times and nobody is ever able to accept my call and they never return my calls.

Finally I hear back that they will compensate me $0.60/pound for damage. WTF? How do you figure out how many pounds a hole in a wall is? How much does a hole in upholstery weigh?

When I finally sent them a bill for about $750, they delayed and delayed about a month and many calls before sending me a check for $380. Again, WTF?

There is no way I can say anything positive at all about my experience with Casey Movers. My only hope is to save someone else from making the same mistake I did.

Regards,
Dean
Yelp User Support
San Francisco, California

Yelp Official Blog | http://officialblog.yelp.com
Yelp Frequently Asked Questions | http://www.yelp.com/faq
Yelp for Business Owners | https://biz.yelp.com

Well, I no longer have to worry about being sued over the bad Yelp review.

Seriously though, my wife does have firsthand customer experience. She was there for three days at her parents house. She waited for the truck to arrive, helped direct the movers as they unloaded the truck and then actually wrote that review while her and her parents sat around the kitchen table.


[UPDATE: Yelp backpedals but a new review surfaces - then disappears]

When Kristen told her mom what happened to her original Yelp review, her mom decided it was time for her to post her own review of Casey Movers (Yeah mom!).

Casey Movers review

Original first hand review

Oh wait – 45 minutes later, this review has slid into the “Filtered reviews” section. WTF? Isn’t this exactly what Yelp just told her to do?!?!

The Eastern Massachusetts Better Business Bureau has removed Casey Movers from their list of accredited movers!

Casey Movers loses BBB accreditation

Casey Movers loses BBB accreditation?

It is now a full week after Matthew Overstreet and Casey Movers was introduced to how the powerful having tens of thousands of eyes on your business can be. So certainly they’ve learned some lessons – but the Casey Movers Yelp page is still festooned with items that make me shake my head. I can take some solace in the fact that about 3,000 people around Boston saw the post and are now better informed.

Casey Movers sues me traffic spike

Boston area traffic that know the truth about Casey Movers

One more funny thing about how Casey Movers and Matthew Overstreet have “fixed” thir Yelp review page is their blurb at the bottom. Nice to know that they troll for eviction business and that they also are proud to say they display their former customers private data on the web – sigh.

Casey Movers loves evictions

evictions welcome

But one week after this post was first written, I still have not received an apology or any guarantee that my wife will not be sued. Matthew Overstreet has also never sent along his “proof” that they paid my father-in-law more than the original review stated.


Phil Buckley presenting on the intersection of search and social at Internet Summit

Presenting on the intersection of search and social

The beautiful part of the Internet is that everyone can now be a publisher. The scary part of the Internet for a company like Casey Movers is that you don’t always know who you’re sending crazy intimidation letters to and how they might respond.

If Matthew or anyone from Casey Movers reads down this far, you can contact me via email at phil@1918.com.

What I want from Casey Movers: Agree never to sue or threaten to sue anyone for a negative review.

I’ll keep this post updated as events unfold.

The original Tweet that kicked this all off has been deleted because I just snapped a quick photo of the letter and posted it (complete with my wife’s name and address). This is a slightly less obvious version of that original tweet with that part of the letter blurred out.

original Casey Movers tweet that started everything

my original tweet

Want to see the Tweets that poured in as the story unfolded? I’ve collected all of them using Storify. Here’s the story of Casey Movers online reputation failure via Twitter.

I have to admit that immediately after receiving the threatening letter from Casey Movers, I thought of this great scene from Taken:

Is your online world on fire?

We all run into trouble from time to time. I'm working with a group of Internet Marketing Geniuses that are dedicated to helping you put out the fire and get control back as soon as possible.

No long contracts. No maintenance fees. Just a 100% Money Back Guarantee.

90 Day Maximum, 60 days more likely.

Comments

  1. Since I found those posts useful, I went to the yelp and clicked “useful”.

  2. Mark Traphagen says:

    I’m loading up on popcorn. This will be a great show!

  3. I wonder if they are threatening to sue Yelp as well.

    Also, what shady fake review company did they use?

    • Well you can buy reviews on fiverr so it’s not a huge surprise, but why go to all the trouble of making an entire WordPress site about your reviews instead of just encourage your real customers to leave an online review.

      • How has that Fiverr site not had any action taken against them since it seems that most things sold through their site are illegal reviews which it seems they dont try at all to remove.

  4. Phil, what a ridiculous situation! They are clearly unaware of how reviews & reputation work now. BTW I “saw” you via twitter at the Internet Summit but never got a chance to say hi. Hope things are going well!

    • I think they are actually aware of how it works and that’s why they are manipulating CitySearch’s results. The problem is that Casey Movers don’t seem to understand that real people often use review sites to amplify businesses with great service and warn others about businesses with terrible service.

      Other than dealing with a renegade sales manager threatening my wife with legal action, I’m living the dream!

  5. Go get them Phil! I’m with you on the BS threatening letters approach! P

  6. Oh my goodness … this is madness.

    The problem is of course step 1 of an effective marketing campaign – have a GOOD service/product. If you don’t in this world no suing will help you from being found naked in the woods….

    • Yeah Bettina that is certainly step 1, but even if your service is fairly crappy you should know better than suing people who have had a bad experience! How will that win them back?

      • Oh yes of course!

        That’s rule no2 – bad experience customers are the easiest to turn into raving fans.

        Tactics to do do so don’t include suing though, naturally ;-)

        I wonder if they are going to be clever enough to seize the opportunity of all this traffic now? Could be turned around still that reputation.

  7. This is crazy.

    After this and the lunch experience from Internet Summit, I can’t help but wonder what kind of advice companies are getting when it comes to marketing. I mean, yes I understand that for the most part we’re all Marketers on here and our bullshit detectors are a bit higher than the average joe, but really? Who wants to go buy a product after this kind of service? :/rant:

    Anyways thanks for sharing Phil. I look forward to the response from Casey Movers.

    • Agreed Cole. I hope that the response from Casey Movers comes like this, “We didn’t know Matthew was sending out letters like that and we don’t want you to remove your Yelp review. We want to work with you to make you happier about a situation from almost 2 years ago that has left a bad taste in your mouth.”

      I’ll keep everyone in the loop.

  8. Hey Phil,
    This is Martin from My Moving Reviews. I just wanted to let you know that we are closely monitoring your story with Casey Movers. Their record with us shows 16 filtered reviews from our automated spam system which is quite a lot. It is even more than the live reviews they have.

  9. Lovin this AND learning at same time!

  10. Wow. Using bullying tactics to remove one bad review is going to do a lot more damage for them in the long term – looks like they picked on the wrong people!

    As an aside, have you used Storify? It’s good if you’re compiling tweets (like you’ve done above), which you can then embed in one big chunk. Thought I’d let you know as you might find it easier/better if you do that type of thing again. Hope it helps. :-)

  11. I guess all business really IS personal, in the end.
    @Phil Buckley, the only thing I didn’t see in your post, was what, if anything, would be an alternate route to resolution with the company? I mean, I get that they blew it on multiple fronts, but is there anything they could do now to un-tangle the rope around their neck?

    • It’s a great question Alex, and one my friend Janet Kennedy also asked. I just added it to the bottom of the post…

      What I want from Casey Movers: Agree never to sue or threaten to sue anyone for a negative review

      • Kristen Buckley says:

        And I think they should compensate my parents for the remainder of the full amount they originally requested. They only asked for $750 which was only a small portion of the damages. To date they’ve only received $380.

        • I’m reminded of something from Beckwith’s Selling the Invisible (to paraphrase): “No warranty can ever compensate the customer for the hassle of having to invoke the warranty”.
          I’m sorry for your folks and the headaches they had to endure in addition to the stress of a major move!
          By contrast, I recently saw a wonderful recommendation for these guys: http://bigfootmovers.com/ at http://www.chrisbrogan.com/sandyrelief/ , and I’m thinking this whole ORM/SEO really does hint at a higher purpose, in terms of separating wheat from chaff in the service industries across the board. An interesting time to be alive.

      • Ok, well that seems like a fair request. I recognize that there is a clear flop (and apparently a pattern of dysfunction) on their part, and that the letter is not very official… That said, I’m curious about the actual legal parameters of this question, and what the precedents are? Is it always cut-and-dry, such that reviewer is ALWAYS protected from issues like libel? Is there a line that could be crossed?

        • Reviewers on Yelp *can* commit libel if they make false statements of fact about the company. This wouldn’t include opinions or hyperbole like “they were terrible,” “their contract was sneaky,” or “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve never actually delivered anything successfully.” Libel would include statements like “my dresser was completely lost in delivery” (if in fact it was delivered) or “we were never compensated for the loss” (if in fact they received and cashed the check compensating for the loss). Threats of libel with nothing to support them are, sadly, surprisingly common, which is why SLAPP law exists.

  12. I was just taking a look at their website. Not the greatest design I’ve ever seen. However the thing that really astonished me was when I looked at their testimonials I noticed that they publicly post the emails and phone numbers of their clients. I don’t know what the world’s view is on that, but I certainly wouldn’t do that to my clients and I wouldn’t want it done to me.

  13. Scott Wolf says:

    It appears very obviously that Matthew Overstreet and Steve Casey are not aware of the SLAPP law and tried to do exactly what the law describes as is evident in the letter in the last sentence of the last paragraph to Mrs Buckley. Stating that Mrs. Buckley would have to travel to another state as a respondent shows just how little they know about the judicial system, and tried to use it to intimidate.

    Also Phil, you did well to obscure your physical address in the original photo of the letter at the beginning of your post but mistakenly used the orginal unaltered photo in your tweets which is getting retweeted.

    • I agree Scott, and as far as the original TwitPic, I realized after the story started to take off. The truth is my address is fairly easy to find online already, so I wasn’t too freaked out about it.

  14. Phil,

    Check out popehat.. he has several articles on SLAPP.

    http://www.popehat.com/2012/06/07/why-yes-i-am-into-slapping/
    http://www.popehat.com/tag/slapp/

    Sometimes he does some pro bono work or can get you in touch with lawyers who do this sort of thing. Censorious asshatery is unacceptable – effectively they are wanting to silence your wife.

  15. Can you file a counter suit for bad grammar and misspelled words? That, in itself is a crime.

  16. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    So Matthew Overstreet really may need to be fired from his Sales Manager job at Casey Movers, so that he can learn a very serious lesson, and if they want to remain in business. It may be a situation where Steve Casey is clueless as to the actions Mr. Overstreet has taken in his official capacity as their sales manager. Or it could be he has been told by Mr. Overstreet that “I have it under control” or some other lie.

    Seriously Matthew needs to read up on the Streisand Effect as well. Because he has now gone and stepped on the toes of the online marketing community. And we’re going to rally around this one. Not because we care for our own. No, it’s because we despise people who try to use the law to suppress valid, legitimate, and perfectly legal voices online. And because we deplore people who fake reviews, and attempt to manipulate the public opinion of their shady business practices.

    Yeah, all those blatantly fake Casey Movers Reviews out there make me want to vomit. And their Sales Manager, Matthew Overstreet, is an embarrassment to American society at this point. I pray he learns and changes his ways.

    • Thanks Alan for all the support, and I think you’re right about the general level of outrage from having to deal with such… umm, let’s call it “craziness”.

      • Phil, I have watched this story all day with great interest and an open mouth (*shocked*). I sent the story to the editors of SEW and SEL, hopefully they will cover it as well. Oh, and your story is now at #7.

  17. Fascinating study. I hope you’ll post the results of your phone call scheduled for later tonight!

  18. Found this story via Consumerist.

    I’m just floored that anybody would attempt to invoke the words “libel suit” without the rudimentary knowledge that _truth_ is all fair game and cannot, by definition, be libelous. Morons.

    Go get’m Phil!

  19. Crazy story! I am in law school and I am especially interested to see how this turns out. I would love to see how a judge would react if they did in fact try to sue.

    Although they edited some of their survey testimonials, unfortunately there are still plenty of testimonials on their website from 2011 that do not have the customers’ personal information blacked out. Some of these papers even have their house address on them. Hopefully they fix those for the sake of their past customers.

    • I am always worried when something goes in front of a judge – who knows what’s going to happen. Better to avoid it in the first place.

      I agree that the customer information being published is terrible, who thought that was a good idea?

  20. Anony-must says:

    Sure wish one of my friends had a husband like you. She posted on a public forum exposing a seller for (*cough*cough* alleged) shill bidding all to most of her auctions on ebay. Ebay changed it’s policy wording to accommodate the seller and is protecting her (though from what I hear, their patience has about worn out with her hysterics) even though they know she is shilling (allegedly ;-) )

    SLAPP laws go only as far as the money lasts. Free speech on the internet did not protect my friend here. We are waiting for karma to come around and start biting.

    • Sometimes karma needs a push in the right direction ;-)

      • Trust me, we have pushed and pushed. This one is Untouchable. An almost 30 page report was sent to IC3 about the shilling activity on ebay. Nothing yet, it continues and as a reward, her TV show apparently was renewed. Yeah, she’s PR for ebay. She-who-must-not-be-mentioned for fear of legal action. But, if you google “ebay seller suing for allegations of shilling”, it’s #1 on the hit parade.

        • I think we share this friend. We have lost touch but I have been wondering how N is holding up. Last update I saw was from May. Any news?

          • Anony-must says:

            Done, over, thrown under the bus, the witch isn’t dead but alive & kicking and gag ordered, so I don’t know details.

            And the faithful bidding continues…..

  21. No Name Here says:

    The worst part of companies that stoop down to this level to begin with, is that if they start getting too much heat/grief over something like this.. they would probably just close their doors and reopen as a new company under a different name.. clean slate. I wouldn’t put it past this one…

  22. Christian Bruzzese says:

    Great story, Phil. I have a question. Just trying to play Devil’s Advocate here. Your wife wrote the review, yet she wasn’t the actual customer. Does that violate Yelp’s Terms of Service? Maybe they can rightfully ask the review to be removed.

    • Great question Christian, I don’t know the answer. What I do know is that my wife was present at the house during the move that entire day helping out and wrote the review with her parents consent (they were sitting together at the kitchen table). The fact that her name was not the one on the bill shouldn’t matter.

    • Alan Bleiweiss says:

      Visualize it. Elderly people having their daughter help them with what was most likely already a difficult and very stressful experience. If that daughter can’t then represent factual information as to how Casey Movers treated them, that would be a tragic world. Fortunately, it’s absolutely valid for her to communicate the facts as she did. Just sayin.

  23. Mr. Buckley:

    I’m a member of the First Amendment Lawyers Association, and blog about free speech issues, particularly bogus legal threats and responses to them. One of my favorite things — aside from the Streisand Effect — is finding pro bono representation for people threatened with vexatious and frivolous defamation suits.

    If I can be of assistance putting out the call for assistance, let me know.

    Ken White
    http://www.popehat.com

    • Thank you Ken. Although I received a somewhat fuzzy assurance from Matthew Overstreet that they are not going to go ahead with their lawsuit, I don’t have a super solid feeling about it. I fear they’ll just show up in court, claim I’m not there and then have a court order or something. (obviously I have no clue what I’m talking about)

      • Phil–
        In order to bring a lawsuit, they have to serve you with papers, and if they haven’t made a good faith effort to find you, the suit gets dismissed. Honestly, as someone who’s spent a bit of time in small claims court, I cannot imagine this holding up. 90% chance they don’t sue.

  24. Sorry to see you’re having to go through this.

    Reminds me of a famous incident a little while back where a dentist in Manhattan got in trouble for making patients sign agreements that they wouldn’t write negative reviews and when one did, they threatened suit. I believe the case was dropped? but I’m not 100% sure.

    As a side note: Did the company violate consumer privacy laws by posting “satisfied” customer data online?

  25. It always amazes me. If a company like Casey just spent a fraction of the time and effort they expend being a poor service provider and trying to intimidate people, they would quite possibly be a highly rated, professional company with phones ringing off the hook due to positive referrals. Why don’t businesses…and people…like this realize that it’s far easier, and far more profitable, to do business with integrity?

    • I don’t know. When I was talking to Matthew on the phone tonight he said that they feel that Kristen’s post has impacted their ability to book business.

      Right, that was the intention of leaving a negative review – to let other consumers know she had a terrible experience!

      The problem now is they have a bigger online problem than one bad Yelp review.

      • Alan Bleiweiss says:

        Matthew Overstreet is a total asshat for how he deals with online reputation for Casey Movers. If I were you, Id’ demand he provide a retraction, IN WRITING, and in that same retraction, he publicly acknowledges it was shamefully wrong for him to try to bully people online, AND that he vows Casey Movers reviews will all be legitimate from now on, AND that all of the FAKE reviews they paid to have posted will be taken down within five business days.

        But hey, I’m just an outside-the-box thinker on this stuff… Radical even. Go figure.

  26. Hey, for what it’s worth, also, unless I am missing something, there is no way that a court in MA would have jurisdiction over a case involving your wife, as you are residents of NC. Not a lawyer, but every case I cave pursued has required a filing in jurisdiction in which you reside.

    • Alan Bleiweiss says:

      hey, this is the interwebs! Al Gore invented it so if some asshat in MA wants to sue someone in NC over a valid, legitimate review, he can do so and force her to melt into her keyboard so she can then digitally transmogrify herself into a MA court!

    • That’s a good question. Where would this case have to be… Boston, Raleigh or wherever Yelp is headquartered?

      • IANAL, but I seem to remember from business law that having plaintiff and defendant in separate states automatically qualifies this for Federal court resolution.

  27. Broke_Daddy says:

    Hi Phil,
    Now they have to contend with the fact that this is on Consumerist.com which is where I found it. It always stuns me that someone will pursue what is the equivalent of a losing hand in a manner such as this. I’ll be watching to see what happens.
    Thanks for fighting the good fight.

  28. Awesome, Phil.

    When I was in the Army, I didn’t make much money. I used a website called fiverr.com to sell my review writing skills. Companies would pay me $5, of which fiverr.com took a cut, and it would be deposited in to my paypal account. I mostly wrote reviews for small businesses like this and books on Amazon. I made about $30 a week.

    Maybe they are using fiverr.com?

    • I have a feeling they are either using something like fiverr or trying to do it themselves. Funny that a new “suspiciously positive” review showed up for them around 4:30 am – just a few hours after you left your comment. (details added above).

      • Interesting that Matt W.’s one and only review just happens to be a 5-star one for this place.

        Also, now instead of one 1-star review, they have a dozen or so (+counting).

        P.S. Hope you don’t mind, but I sent this link to a Boston TV station. Also, Drudge. Maybe they’ll pick it up.

  29. This has now gone viral on Reddit front page :)

    As an SEO specialist and online marketer I can totally understand the ass-whooping you just gave him. He didn’t know who he was messing with :)

  30. Oh man. This is ownage in its finest form.

  31. http://www.ted.com/talks/jeff_hancock_3_types_of_digital_lies.html

    Skip to about 15 minutes in. He talks about spotting fake online reviews. Fake reviews create a narrative and the liar inserts themselves. Then re-read that last ‘positive’ review.

  32. Hi! Great article. I was just checking out Casey Mover’s Facebook page, and they have a ton more (dozens) of the scanned “Customer Reviews” there with the customers’ emails and phone numbers. The emails and phone numbers have not been blurred out.

  33. You are a legend my friend. The great thing is you’ve gotten some vary useful information, such as SLAPP laws, out for people that have seen similar intimidation tactics. I’m sure you’ve also scared some other shady businesses into correcting their actions before it is too late. The only sad (but funny) part is that there are smarter companies that are getting away with this. It takes a real group of idiots to be exposed this badly (Hi Casey Movers).

  34. Way to stand your ground, Phil! These guys are a joke.

  35. Hey, just a friendly heads up, you blurred out your wife’s information in the part you posted up top, but the letters in the twitter capture at the bottom still have the address listed clear as day. The Storify portion.

  36. One of the big things that struck me about the review itself is that the reviewer keeps talking about himself in great detail, e.g. “I’m a musician by trade and a full-time accountant,” “I called [other movers]… spoke with manager and owner of each one,” “I was coming from Upper Arlington, OH,” “I took only essential things for work and living, which was [provides an overly detailed list of things he supposedly brought on his own],” and “I also lived alone and I drive a small car.”

    I read an article a couple months ago which talked about someone who wrote fake reviews, and one of the biggest tip-offs that a review is fake is that the reviewer talks about him/herself in great detail than one would see from an actual reviewer. From what he directly tells us (not what we can infer) in his review, I can tell you that “Matt” is a professional musician and an accountant, lives alone, has a small car, moved from Upper Arlington, OH, had never before hired a moving company, has no friends or family in the MA area, and started a new job.

    Also notice how much his review reads like a story with Matt describing his reasons for deciding to use a mover, his feelings throughout the process, his final inspection of his belongings as they opened the truck. It almost reads like something you would expect from a professional food critic describing a restaurant’s service, ambience, food, etc etc.

    Comparing your wife’s original review which was roughly as long (and detailed, which as someone who relies on reviews to buy things/services, I really appreciate, by the way), she mostly focuses on what happened and describes what the movers did, e.g. “move cost us $11,000,” “took almost 2 weeks to deliver our boxes,” “they broke and lost a large number of items including [list items that were broken or lost, which is relevant to the review],” “damaged walls, furniture, and woodwork.” While “Matt’s” review does have information regarding the move, it’s in a sea of fluff. The only personal-type details that I can directly glean from her review is that her parents moved from MA to North Carolina into a new house.

    There’s a huge difference in the content between these posts. I’m not sure if I could have figured out if Matt’s post was fake if it had not been presented to me as such, but it’s still interesting to see some of the “classic signs” (as described to me) of a fake review in practice.

  37. CosmosHuman says:

    I have used Yelp in the past to check out companies that I think I want to do business with. Casey Movers is not one of them, but hell, I’m in Ohio. Keep up the good fight!

  38. A big “thank you” for this. Every time someone like you stands up to this kind of intimidation, it helps everybody.

    Bravo.

  39. I’ve been threatened with a lawsuit over a Yelp review, too. I forwarded the notice to Yelp, who suggested iget a lawyer. When I asked if they tracked this type of behavior from companies, I was told that they do not. To me, this is a gap on Yelp’s part.

  40. I found this story through Consumerist, and just wanted to wish you all the best in your dealings with this person and company. Hopefully this is a wake up call for them to turn around their business!

  41. Google “Greg Hyer” and read several of the links. Proves what random people on the internet can do when you spam social media as a form of networking. He made a bold move by threatening to sue the message board admin for something that was completely out of his control. Greg Hyer’s Google search results will never be the same.

  42. Regarding the “positive reviewer” from Ohio…

    What, former extras on LA-based hair styling reality shows can’t move to Ohio, take up accounting, and then hire a Boston-based moving company? Seems perfectly reasonable to me!

  43. Steven Times says:

    Mr. Buckley,

    Congratulations, You’ve become a hot topic on reddit.com – what many consider to be “the front page of the internet.” So far, after a few hours of being posted, your story has over 1400 likes, hundreds of comments from people around the world and quite the discussion growing around it (all under the subreddit known as “justiceporn”). I suspect it will continue to grow substantially as the day goes on. For what it’s worth, as an employee of a public defence firm, I commend you for having such good character in the face of injustice; you’ve earned my admiration, along with the respect and support of one of the most viral sites on the interwebs (In the case that you’re already aware of this, I apologize for pointing out the obvious). I just want to wish you and your family the best of luck in your cause – a cause we all share, in one sense our another.

    Sincerely,

    Steven Times

    • Thank you Steven. Yes Reddit has been a huge boost. I turned up my cache to help handle the firehose of traffic that poured in this morning.

      I appreciate the kind words and well wishes.

  44. Looks like they didn’t actually remove all of those folk’s personal details. They just re-posted them with the contact information photoshopped out. All of the originals are still there. Hopefully these people don’t care that their phone numbers and personal email addresses are all posted for the world to see!

    http://s1092.beta.photobucket.com/user/caseymovers/library/

  45. This was really interesting. Good for you to sticking with it- I probably would have just been intimidated. Btw, how did you do the reverse image search? I had no idea you could do that. I’ve been working on exposing some fake reviews too and it would be helpful.

  46. Bravo!

  47. FYI you can have their Facebook profile page removed. Having a business use a personal profile as their presence on FB is against the FB terms of service. You can report them through their profile page and FB will take it down in a couple of days.

    They take this very seriously.

  48. I am very sorry for what happened to your in-laws. What this company is threatening is a disgrace!

    I found it interesting that when I compared the handwriting of the “positive” review letter posted to WordPress from “Donna” to the writing on the envelope that was sent containing the lawsuit threat there are many similarities in handwriting. For example the lower case y, n, and o’s are very similar, and the writer is very inco sister with handwriting (all of the 2’s are different, some sharp lines other with loops) as if they were trying to ensure inconsistencies to avoid looking forged.
    Also the content almost appears to be generic or even copied. Seems too coincidental that “hardworking” is in first 4 words of both reviews?
    I think this company needs to hire an actual professional to handle complaints and concerns, not to mention someone to coach them on business practices.

  49. Tarheel Parrothead says:

    Just FYI, I notice that on their Facebook page, they’ve got an entire album of customer review forms. All of these forms have personally identifiable information displayed openly, some that include name, address, phone number, and email address. I’ve actually reported this to Facebook, as I know I’d want someone to do that for me if my info was being posted in a public forum where it could be harvested by anyone.

    • Yeah, a few other folks have mentioned similar things. Those photos are stored on Photobucket I believe. Thanks for watching out for your fellow man on the web.

      • Tarheel Parrothead says:

        Apparently, Facebook finally responded to my reporting their account. They now have a new business page and almost all of the photos have had the personally identifiable info removed. I found one more today and reported that, as well.

        • Tarheel Parrothead says:

          Hah. Looks like at least one of their two pages has all of the customer feedback forms removed. The other one finally has all of the identifiable info removed. These guys are scum.

  50. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    I’m in the middle of writing an article on this whole story. So I called Casey Movers and asked to speak with Steve Casey, to get his side of the story. Receptionist took my info and said their attorney will most likely be the one to call me back.

    I’ll update as it unfolds.

  51. Phil,

    Best of luck. I hope your struggle gives a good example of what happens when you try to bully your consumers.

    We’re customers, not counter-parties, and it’s time we made that clear.

  52. BRAVO Phil!!! Excellent article, it baffles my mind how stupid this company is and how utterly clueless they are in the PR/marketing 101 department.

  53. I’m only 16 and I can tell that what they are doing is ridiculous. It kind of proves the stupidity of it when someone my age is able to tell that it’s absolutely terrible.

  54. Mike Snyder says:

    And the latest positive fake review on Yelp:

    “I was hesitant about going to Casey Movers, but I was pleasantly surprised. First off, I am no expert food critic, but I absolutely loved their fried shrimp dumplings. It had just the right amount of spices that really tingled my taste buds. We also got the peking duck and an order of chicken chow fun, both were amazing. I think I just found another restaurant to add to my weekly rotation. Thanks Casey Movers!”

    Brilliant.

  55. You forgot one important thing… Casey Movers is using a PERSONAL Facebook page as their company site. This is completely against FB policy. Businesses MUST use “Like” pages.

    Go to their page, click the little gear, and select report. On the report page checkmark “this page is for a business”, then on the next page click “report” again and in the spot to type put in “Casey Mover’s in trying to get around Facebook’s policy by using a personal page for a business” and then submit it.

  56. Well, it seems that this was my first and last post to /r/JusticePorn:

    “Post removed, user banned for expressly violating reddit’s ToS and our subreddit rule”

    I’m assuming this was due to the personal info rule. I’m not in agreement exactly, due to the difference between personal info and publicly available company info, but I guess it’s a fine line. I am glad that the story got attention and will hopefully serve as a cautionary tale for others about how internet marketing can work for/against you.

  57. The Yelp review by George M. is clearly a fake. Who do they think they are kidding?

    • Huh? Why do you say that? I went through his stuff… and it’s, well it’s really strange, but not in a suspicious way. He’s been on Yelp for months, all but a few of the reviews are from the Boston area, and it just seems like a normal Yelper. Although, I should say, he seems to be extra passionate about food. I can’t tell if it’s funny or creepy.

  58. Great Blog Post, us Yelpers are behind you 100%

  59. Discovered this via twitter.

    Stories like this amaze me. Why are bozos like this in business? Why would you want to FIGHT your customers?

    This is the counter story I always tell:

    I do some novel writing when I find time. Pre-dropbox, I kept my work on thumbdrives and occasionally backed up to CD. One day the thumbdrive failed and backup was so old as to be useless (my bad). The thumbdrive was also out of warranty by several months.

    Desperate to recover my work, I emailed the manufacturer, Lexar Media, and asked about recovery costs after explaining the situation. They told me not to worry; just send in the drive and they would take care of me (OUT of warranty).

    A couple of weeks after sending it, I received a brand-new thumbdrive with TWICE the capacity and my recovered data on a CD– FREE.

    I am now a volunteer salesperson for Lexar Media. :)

  60. Claiborne White says:

    So the FTC info about false reviews, and the potential for fines. What can we do to push that angle.

    I am so tired of fraudulent reviews from scammy/ scummy companies. If the FTC can begin enforcing fines for false reviews, perhaps this may act as a disincentive to this type of company behavior.

  61. If you go to Casey Movers FaceBook page, they have dozens of pictures of “Customer Reviews” but they contain the customers name, phone number, and email address. Worst of all they are not private, I’m not a “friend” of theirs but could view all their photos!

  62. William Cate says:

    So, does Matt Overstreet wwebsite as on the internet?

    Do we even want to know?

  63. Chris From Poland says:

    And now Casey Movers deleted all negative comments linking to this page off their Facebook page. This is a big social media no-no.

    • Well, I can see that. Nobody wants to deal with a shit-storm if they can just pretend it isn’t happening by closing the door.

      • Hi Phil,
        Just recently I was threatened by a business for a review I left online. They were able to get my review and any other negative reviews moved to the filtered section of YELP. They threatened me via their business website, their FB page and Twitter and had their FB friends leave nasty comments about me. They also left comments (trying to hide their identity) that were totally out of line. I put together a website http://www.makaivethawaii.com and you can see the whole story there.
        I would love to hear what you have to say. I wish I was able to share my info with more people. What happened was not right yet they still have gotten away with it by getting the review sites to either hide or delete my review or others who have negative reviews. They also have left reviews written by their employees to make themselves look better.

        Thanks so much, Jen

        • I should probably add that the business, an animal clinic, does not want the public to know that a dog, under their “care” died from 5 infectious diseases, one of them being MRSA. They convinced the owner (me) that he was OK and not contagious.
          If the story ever gets really out there, they would be in a lot of trouble because 4 out of 5 infections are transmittable to humans. I did get sick after he died.
          They do not want any one to know so that is why they have threatened me and paid a few sites to delete my review.
          Crazy…

          • Hi Jen, sorry to hear that you had to put up with the same kind of crap. I’m lucky, this is my sweet spot, I make a living trying to get the web to look a cetain way for my clients – and this was a huge, time-consuming, pain in the neck for me. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for a normal web user.

  64. With respect to that blatantly false review, if it is from anyone affiliated with Casey rather than a random troll it breaks FTC guidelines IIRC.

  65. Weak Yelp! response indeed. Casey Movers may think they won or that it’s over but, it’s not. This story as you said “has a life of its own” now. People will talk, people will support.
    -Chris

  66. Hi Phil,

    This is a great testament to commercial free speech – its greatest virtues and its worst nightmares. Congratulations for a classic smack down.

    That Matt fella had a bad stroke of luck. And what’s with that FB avatar, huh?

    Pete Morin
    Scituate

  67. cool, my shrimp dumpling review managed to make it into your yelp screencap.

  68. So Yelp is totally cool with tons of obviously fake reviews of services and restaurants, but draws the line at your wife posting on her parents behalf (when she was actually there for the move)?

  69. The new Yelp review (by Joanne) was likely filtered because she is a new user without any other reviews. Friend her, go to her user page and vote her review useful/funny/cool, and her review should eventually reappear.

  70. Another option for getting the new Yelp review unfiltered is for your mother-in-law to write some more reviews (perhaps a couple for her favorite restaurants). Accounts with only one review seem to get filtered often.

  71. haha yes, forgot to add that part :) I will friend her and vote her review useful myself

  72. Here is Joanne’s profile on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=2PuFYhLbV6lPWofxcym35g

    Everyone should add her as a friend, compliment her review, and vote it useful, funny, and cool — soon enough it should be magically unfiltered :)

  73. Yo, Phil! Kristen’s review is back on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/casey-movers-rockland

  74. Alan Bleiweiss says:

    So now there’s only THREE reviews on Yelp. FIFTY NINE filtered. Including the actual review from Kristen’s parents, the people who actually GOT the craptastic service and whose furnishings were damaged, broken and missing. Got to love Yelp.

    But at least, for now, Kristen’s follow-up is prominently displayed :-)

  75. I wish I was as agressive as you. I tried to be. I posted a review on YELP of a moving company here on the South Shore called Marco Polo Moving company. This was my review:
    I wouldnt even give this company a 1 but I dont have the option to give 0 stars. This company is AWFUL. I hired them, they showed up 3 HOURS LATE. The destroyed my beds headboard, cracked my 46″ plasma TV from top to bottom and ruined other little items as well. I have called and emailed numerous times and Younes the owner with NOT call me back. Now I have to take the next step to file a claim with the courts. Make sure that you ask about insurance and not pay them until you check out all your belongings if you still decide to go with this company. Once they get paid, they wash their hands clean of you!
    ****in addition-Younes from Marco Polo read this review and since written, refuses to give me a copy of my reciept and contract. Said that he would see me in court and threatened to tell the judge I never paid him unless I take this review down!

    I got screamed at by the owner over the phone for posting this. I fear that if I take him to court I will not win. It is my own fault for forgetting to get the recipt when they left. And I stupidly paid in case and that is where he threatened to tell the judge I never paid him if I took him to court.
    I also feel that the reviews after mine are completely fake!!! Reading this, and your examples, its pretty clear. I honestly wish I had your tact. Maybe I would have been somewhat reimbursed for my damages :(

  76. Most excellent. And if Casey Movers — who already has an alternate/dba in “KIT” — decides to just change names, may crowdsourcing notice, and continue to flail them mercilessly.

  77. Thanks for putting this together and sending the message that companies can’t get away with this.

  78. S. Springer says:

    I am dealing with a similar experience. I posted a negative review and then the owner of the business called and is threatening to sue me. She stated she contacted Yelp and was having them remove my review. A few days later, my review was filtered. I did not receive any notification from Yelp as to why is was filtered. I noticed several other negative reviews were filtered too. What is the point of using Yelp if a business can just have the negative reviews removed and/or filtered? Now, I am waiting to see if she actually sues.

  79. Casey Movers has also been caught leaving fake reviews on the Yelp pages of their competitors. I handle ORM for another moving company and have had to deal with both Matt and Erik in the past due to their misguided tactics.

  80. Jenny Hernandez says:

    Hi Phil,

    I’m also dealing with another moving company in Los Angeles wanting me to remove my Yelp review. They have threatened to sue me because I wouldn’t agree to completely delete my negative review. They sent me a letter in the mail on their own letterhead, not from a lawyer, but from someone in their “legal dept” and CC’ed a lawyer. Any advice on how I can proceed? I definitely don’t have the means to hire my own lawyer and actually take them to court but I also don’t want to delete my review b/c that’s how they probably only have 1 other bad review and the rest of mysteriously filtered. I don’t want others to be tricked into using them like I was by reading those good reviews. Any advice will help, thanks.

    • I’m not a lawyer so I can’t offer any legal advice obviously, but I have received more than my fair share of letter like that and they are usually more bark than bite.

      You could add another review to the Yelp site about how the company is threatening legal action against you for leaving a one star review – just an idea ;-)

  81. Jenny Hernandez says:

    oh and the letter wasn’t even sent certified mail which makes me doubt it’s validity.

  82. Richard McKee says:

    Phil,
    I am struck to the core by this trail of responces to your wife’s parents horrible move. As you can see by my email address I am working in the same business. I am however a bit different, I am a fourth generation “mover”. I ran a south shore moving company till 2008 and now currently work for another away from that area.
    If there is anything I can do to help by way of information regarding the moving industry I would be honored to assist you and your family any way possible.

    • Ha, thanks Richard. It’s always frightening how terrible something can look when it’s all laid out in front of you isn’t it?

      It’s like those situations in a conversation where you say, “well, when you phrase it like that…”.

  83. I’m so glad that word of this company’s tactics got around. I work in online reputation management and they have used a Yelp profile named “Erik J.” to provide false reviews of competitors and a glowing review of Casey Movers. His review is still in their filter. Thanks for exposing them!

  84. Hello Phil!
    I’ve been bullied via Facebook message for six months by a person who works on a show that is aired on Hulu. I left one negative review of the show on Hulu, and this person claims to have spoken to my family members, previous employers and friends of mine (none of them have talked to me about this issue, but there is no way he could have known one of them is my ex). He has also threatened to come and find me. What do I do before this escalates into something life-threatening or something I can’t personally afford? I don’t think it’s right to delete the comment and want to stand my ground.

  85. I’m a little late to the party, I actually found this while researching intentional infliction of emotional distress for a law class. It’s great to see people stand up for what is right and not be bullied by threats of frivolous lawsuits. Also, this makes me rethink my use of Yelp in the future. I understand the need for guidelines and ensuring that all follow them, but it is disheartening to see that businesses can use this in their favor to remove legitimate negative reviews. It makes me second guess the validity of any company’s rating on Yelp.

  86. I came across this article today, I have to say props, you went all out protecting yourself and it’s great. My question to you is what do business owners do when they get slapped by 1 star reviews just because some pathetic loser didn’t like the pricing because he can get it $1 cheaper else where, or showed up late and didnt get service because there were others there before them and had to leave. I’v been slammed by ridiculous 1 star reviews for being honest or not being able to help someone. Is it my fault? Absolutely not. Did I get hurt? Absolutely. I’m not the only business owner. This happens all day long. WHAT DO WE DO?

    • Yup, it happens all the time. I worked in e-commerce and hated reviews that were just “I hated it” because it offers no real value to anyone reading the review – much like the “I loved it” review doesn’t offer any value.

      Here’s my take on crappy 1 star reviews that are unwarranted… if it’s a single review that is negative, it’s not a big deal. People are suspect if all the reviews are 5 stars. If there’s a handful that are 1 star and it’s bringing down your aggregate star-rating – address the problems, then answer the reviews (if possible) laying out how you’ve fixed the problems.

      You can’t make everyone like you/your business/service/product. So stop trying. Make it obvious your business is to sell to your core tribe and that there are people who won’t see the value you offer. If I see a review for a Thai restaurant that says, “This place was terrible, the waitstaff had thick Asian accents and most of the food was too spicy” I can discount that review because that restaurant was never trying to cater to that person.

      I can honestly say that if 1 bad review is “absolutely” hurting you business then your real problem might be something much more substantial.

  87. This is such an interesting post!
    Thanks for sharing!

  88. Need Help says:

    Hi, I am beyond impressed with how well you’ve handled this bad experience. I, myself was just sued today over a negative review I wrote about a past landlord. Everything in my review was factual, and I am at a loss of what to do. I was professional and truthful. The last month of my occupancy, I mailed my rent out of habit forgetting that she already had my last month’s rent. She cashed the check and refused to either return it or destroy the double-payment, and then refused to return my security deposit (another full months rent) or provide the necessary bank account information. I briefly explained this experience in my review, and now her lawyer has sent me letters to remove it and that they are suing. Stubbornly, I initially did not want to because I know I have done nothing wrong. But to save myself and my family this headache, I tried to delete it but the site does not allow me to. What should I do? Thanks for any advice.

    • I just responded to you via email, but I will reply on here as well.

      I am NOT a lawyer, so take everything I say as my opinion, not as a course of action that is legally recommended.

      I honestly believe that 9 times out of 10 that the letter is a scare tactic meant to scare you into compliance. Personally I have been threatened with being sued a handful of times and it has never happened – mostly because it’s a big pain in the neck for everyone involved.

      You have to make the decision that works best for you and your family, but know that there are a lot of people out here on the web that are in your corner and will lend you support to fight injustice.

  89. Need help, Phil is correct. You have to do what you feel works best for you. You have to decided is it better to press on or remove the review. There are several articles about people being sued over negative reviews and you can get a lot of great advice for what to do. I am currently documenting the bad practices of a nasty company. I do not have the option to back down as I have to put my foot down. That is the place you find yourself in and only you can make the choice. If you really want to fight it and press on, check out techdirt.

  90. A friend just passed along another fantastic Popehat episode where they helped a woman who left a negative review about a dentist and was threatened – http://www.popehat.com/2013/06/25/criticize-your-dentist-thats-a-jailin/

  91. Well a very interesting post Phil and a very strange logic trying to sue people for this and not a great PR move surely ?!

    • It’s an amazing trend Dave. I understand that Yelp is not perfect and sometimes people are a bit over the top with their negative reviews, but I would say that more often than not I believe the reviewer over the business.

      The businesses, big and small, need to have a “come to Jesus” type of moment and understand that verything has changed and the old rules are no longer in effect.

  92. thanks for this. I just was notified I’m going to be sued for a similar post about a property management company. I’m going to have to use this discussion as a template

    • sir, if you have any reply allowance. I’d like to get in touch with you. im in active duty military officer and I being hounded by this property manager to remove my post and be sued in court. I can give mote details so maybe you can help me vector my next step?

      • I’m also being sued for an online review. I am even being sued for reviews that were taken down years ago, and within days of my posting them. And I am being sued for reviews I did not write.

        I’ve been assuming that the right thing to do is shut up and let the courts handle it, but sheesh…the contractor who is suing me has made (and been granted) 19 requests for extensions of time on this suit and on one occasion went 6 consecutive months without filing whatever they were supposed to and on another occasion went 3 months. They also got 5 chances to rewrite the suit to try to make it hold water. I’m a teacher and I feel generous when I give kids one chance for a rewrite. Imagine if a doctor got 5 chances to try to get an appendix out. Lord have mercy.

        But your site has inspired me. No doubt, my lawyer will be less enthusiastic about my next course of action. I’m putting up a webpage about my crappy experience and I’m linking the page to my 2 or 3 remaining reviews. You’ve inspired me.

      • Hi Scott,

        I’m not a lawyer, so all I can offer is what worked for me. Every situation is different and I was lucky enough to have lots of help crop up that no doubt influenced the situation in a favorable way for me.

        With that said, I’ll shoot you an email and offer what I can.

  93. I’m basically dealing with the same thing. I posted a negative review of a company I’ve done work with and they emailed me today threatening me. My negative review was full of “I think”, “I feel”, “my opinion”, etc. so hopefully that protects me from being taken to court. Here is a copy of my review:

    “I feel that close to every work experience I have ever had with both Chris Warren and his secretary have been completely negative. She, the secretary, seems to me, to be a compulsive liar who will say whatever in order to get out of trouble even if I have emails or other people present as proof of otherwise. Chris Warren reminds me of a two year old. If something isn’t done his way, it is like he throws giant tantrums until you are forced to give in. Smart Source/Chris Warren realty, to me, is the most unprofessional realtor I have ever had the displeasure of working with. Of course, these are all my opinions so feel free to use them how you’d like. I do highly recommend Bart with Bella Real Estate though.”

    Chris Warren then proceeded to email me threatening messages. Our conversation went like this:

    “Chris W. Owner 41 minutes ago
    Hi Jennifer-
    I don’t recall ever having a discussion with you much less having a giant trantrum. I would caution you about stating things publicly that may not be accurate true. My asssistant has worked with me for many years and is not a compulsive liar. I highly recommend you remove this or provide specifics. I am going to send this to my attorney if this is not removed immediately.

    Jennifer S. 19 minutes ago
    This is a very old review for you to be threatening me with. As they are all my opinions, they are protected under the Constitution.

    Chris W. 15 minutes ago
    These are groundless remarks. I have also spoken to Ruthie with PCS. These are not opinions. No one lied to you, and no one had a temper tantrum. This is very unprofessional on your part. I highly recommend you remove the remarks. If you do not, I will be contacting my attorney.

    Jennifer S. 14 minutes ago
    They are all opinions so I can not be sued for anything I stated. Please discontinue harassing me based on feelings. Thank you.

    Chris W. 10 minutes ago
    They are not opinions. You cannot state things publicly that are not true. No one lied to you, and I never had a trantrum. Your company did drop the ball on many service requests. And, you were not a customer or client. We did not provide services to you. You simply worked as an employee for another company, and you no longer work for them.

    Jennifer S. 5 minutes ago
    Notice the “I feel”, “seems to me”, “reminds me”, “to me”, and “Of course, these are all my opinion so feel free to use them how you’d like”. These are opinion statements. I also did not state that you personally did work for me or vice versa. I stated “I feel that close to every experience I have ever had with…”
    I will not be responding to these messages any more as I have told you that I consider these to be harassment. It is unprofessional of you to continue to try to intimidate me because you do not agree with me. As I stated before, please discontinue harassing me based on my points of view.”

    He then contacted PCS in order to “tattle” on me. PCS then contacted their CPA. Who called me on my personal cell phone number. Their CPA happens to be the stepfather of one of my exes. They are all thinking that they can intimidate me because I knew them personally.

    It is good to see that you stood up for your wife’s right to voice her opinion! Thank you for writing this as it gives me courage.

    • Good for you Jennifer! Although I’m not an attorney, it seems pretty clear that you are stating your opinion. Last I checked you’re opinions are still protected in the United States as free speech.

      • Yes, sir they are! I went ahead and copied the conversation between Chris Warren and myself via Yelp and posted it as an additional “Update” on the company’s review. People need to be made aware that these things happen, but that we do not need to feel backed into a corner. As long as what you have stated is either 100% FACT or 100% OPINION, you can not be sued for posting a negative review.

  94. Trying Our Patients says:

    A doctor suing a rate-your-doctor reviewer got a similar Reddit bump.

    Rest of story: http://www.alertpresence.com/2011/03/24/a-physician-review-gone-wrong/

  95. I’m the defendant mentioned by Trying Our Patients

    The plaintiff’s first contact with me was a letter that said in part that he had the means and motivation to pursue me. The financial impact of being sued three years to date has been burdensome, a game of financial attrition that I haven’t wanted to play. The suit cost me the equivalent of two year’s net income – the same as 48 of my car payments plus 48 of my house payments. My family members had to dip into retirement funds to help me.

    After receipt of a threat letter, I deleted my rate-your-doctor site postings and sent confirmation emails to opposing counsel. Since May of 2010, postings on the Internet by others include newspaper accounts of the lawsuit; readers’ remarks about the newspaper accounts; and blog opinion pieces written by doctors, lawyers, public relations professionals, patient advocates, and information technology experts. Dozens of websites by doctors, lawyers, patient advocates, medical students, law schools, consumer advocates, and free speech monitors posted opinions that a doctor or plumber shouldn’t sue the family of a customer for a bad rating. These authors never said they saw my deleted ratings – only the news coverage.

    I’ve learned that laws about slander and libel do not conform to one’s expectations. I’ve read that online complaints are safe “if you stick to the facts.” That’s exactly the wrong advice. I did not want to merely post my conclusions. I wanted to stick to my recollection of what I’d heard. I don’t like to read generalities like “I’m upset. He did not treat my father well. He was insensitive. He didn’t spend enough time in my opinion.” However, such generalities are excused as opinion, hyperbole, or angry utterances. If one purports to say what happened, factual recitations can be litigated. The plaintiff must prove the facts are willfully misstated, but the defendant can go broke while waiting through the effort.

    I feel that defamation lawsuits are much too easy for wealthy plaintiffs. If I were to attempt suing a doctor for malpractice, my case would not proceed until I’d obtained an affidavit from another doctor, declaring that the defendant’s actions did not conform to established procedures. In a defamation suit, there’s generally no exit short of a judge’s dismissal order – which can be appealed by the plaintiff. Being called “defendant” is terribly personal, but the civil suit path is totally impersonal. During the three years that I went through depositions, interrogatories, a dismissal hearing, an appellate hearing, and a state Supreme Court hearing; I never once spoke to a judge.

    My full reaction can be seen at http://learningboosters.blogspot.com/2013/02/dennis-laurion-answers-questions-after.html

  96. Hahaha. You must have no life.
    Get over it. You are making fool out of yourself.

  97. something is truly wrong with you
    you spend so much time for your story
    I am sorry to disappoint you – you don’t have a story
    and because of people like you and your wife small business are shutting down
    you sound and act like a bad person
    I am hoping this company will sue you big time

    • Well, they haven’t sued me and I don’t think they have any plans to moving forward.

      But thanks for the insightful comment.

    • Hi, Saida/Jason. Interesting thoughts you have there. But I disagree. I think Phil and his wife are doing their little part to help small business. There is nothing quite like a stark cautionary tale to ward off those few thuggish business owners inclined to threaten dissatisfied customers with legal action if they speak out.

      Threatening is, in my opinion, a poor business strategy. KlearGear comes to mind. And Casey Movers, of course. They are the parties that look foolish to me. And I think Phil and his wife are doing their part to thin court dockets everywhere by making choleric, foot-stomping business owners opt against suing unhappy customers, and perhaps focus instead on creating fewer of them.

  98. The interesting thing is that if the negative comments are true, then it isn’t libel. I had a similar experience years ago with a fence company that was partly owned by a lawyer. Fortunately I had a couple of good friends who were also lawyers and they shut this other guy down before it got as far as this example. In addition, I worked for a large corporation that had 150 lawyers on staff, and I ran the situation by them as well. With their influence, the lawyer owner was censored by the Texas bar association and he abruptly removed himself as part owner of the company. Don’t let a company that provides bad service try to intimidate you into removing your comments as long as they are true.

  99. Writing a reviews is a recommended move in our society, “negative reviews” or unhappy customer reviews is key to gain experience for change chasing the bad reviews is ridiculous. There is a lot of extremism and intolerance on both sides, this week one of our customer service received treats on his life because of a delay
    We need to be patient and get better all the time.

    Feel free to send me a review of your moving experience
    Will be update in my site – http://www.movingcompaniesreviews.us

    movingreviewsusa@gmail.com

    Franco J

  100. Natasha Smith says:

    Amazing. I called Casey Movers to get a quote for moving from one town to another. So glad for the internet!!! And thank you, for writing this blog. it’s a huge help. Now, i am afraid to cancel an appointment with them… Haha
    thank you again

Trackbacks

  1. [...] now yields over 19 million results for sued over a negative review. Phil Buckley was just recently threatened over a negative review. I received a letter from Cash for Gold once about not referring to it as a scam. It is happening a [...]

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  11. [...] wife made about the company’s services. This man did what he does best: He covered the issue on his blog, and in just a few days, the story went viral and received well over 76,000 views in one single [...]

  12. [...] story of threats, astro-turfing reviews, power struggles, and second thoughts you can catch it at my personal blog. Share this:Google +1FacebookTwitterLinkedInRedditStumbleUponEmail Filed Under: SEO, Social Media [...]

  13. [...] reveals similar lawsuits, or threats of lawsuits, being filed by a Pilates studio, a doctor, a moving company, and a plastic surgeon, and that’s just based on the first page of Google results. The linked [...]

  14. [...] Continue reading here: Casey Movers Threatens To Sue Me Over Bad Review – Phil Buckley [...]

  15. [...] Small Business Trends: Chris, can you tell us a little bit about the case of the  Casey Movers Yelp threat? [...]

  16. [...] Small Business Trends: Chris, are you able to let us know a bit in regards to the case of the   Casey Movers Yelp threat [...]

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  21. [...] marketing.  As a result, they often take misguided measures to amend them.  For example, a moving company sent a threatening letter to one unhappy customer after she posted a negative review on Yelp.   The story went viral and [...]

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  24. [...] Regardless of how it went down, we live in a digital age and anyone can get online and publish their perspective on any situation. There are a number of online review sites, forums, blogs and we can’t forget about social media. If you expect people to comment on the good things you do then you have to expect that people will also talk about the bad things you do. More important is that people will listen to the negative reviews more than the positive reviews so makung sure you handle them effectively is extreemly important, unless you want to end up like Casey Movers! [...]

  25. […] example of an attempted lawsuit because the customer posted a negative review on a business. Casey Movers Threatens To Sue Me Over Bad Review – 1918 __________________ "Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of […]

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