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Pet Sitting Company Sues Texas Couple over Bad Yelp Review
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Summary: A Dallas pet sitting company sued a couple for writing a negative Yelp review.

A Texas pet sitting company is in deep dog doo after suing its former customers for writing a bad Yelp review, The Dallas Morning News reports.

  
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Prestigious Pets of Dallas sued Robert and Michelle Duchouquette after the couple wrote a detailed, negative review after using the service in October. Michelle said she found the company on Yelp and decided to use them when her regular company was unavailable.

In Michelle’s review, she wrote about how Prestigious Pets had limited hours to reach them and that she was alarmed when she learned her fish tank had “gone from clear to cloudy.” She also stated that she did not like the way the company communicated about fees.

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While most business owners on Yelp respond publicly on the website or try to contact the reviewer directly, Prestigious Pets at first sent a cease and desist letter. When the couple ignored it, Prestigious Pets escalated by filing a lawsuit.

Prestigious Pets is seeking $6,700 in damages. They allege that the Duchouquettes violated a non-disparaging clause that they initially signed. Michelle told the press that she knew about the clause but that she was about to go on vacation and needed a sitter ASAP.



Prestigious Pets told KTVT-TV, “We are honest people seeking protection from dishonest individuals, not other honest ones. Fair and honest feedback is not the issue here.”

For Prestigious Pets, it seems like they fell victim to the Streisand Effect. Since the story broke days ago, Prestigious Pets’ Yelp page has been bombarded with new reviews, the majority of them criticizing the company for their inability to accept criticism. While Yelp has suspended the page and says it is “being monitored,” some of the new feedback can be seen.

“A company brags about positive yelp reviews while at the same time not allowing negative reviews through a contractual non-disparagement agreement?” Jim M. wrote.

“I know someone who had a very unhappy experience with this company, but s/he is too fearful of being sued by them for posting the story on Yelp that I told her I’d do it for him (her),” Goood Lookin’ C.

Seems like Prestigious Pets would have fared better publicly if they had just let sleeping dogs lie.

In November, JD Journal reported that senators are working to protect Yelp reviewers like the Duchouquettes from retaliation. The Senate Commerce Committee had met to give states and the Federal Trade Commission the power to stop non-disparagement clauses, but so far, their work is still pending.

“These gag provisions are egregious from a consumer protection standpoint, but they’re also doing harm to our Internet ecosystem,” Chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) had said.

Source: Dallas Morning News



 

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