Michigan Woman Sued by Company After Leaving Negative Yelp Review
"If she takes down her post, she’s giving an opportunity to a company to muzzle all of its other customers and their bad reviews," said her attorney
A Michigan woman who shared her gripes with the services of a local company has been sued by the company for making “defamatory statements.”
Lisa Agostino left a negative, one-star Yelp review of North Wind Heating and Air Conditioning on the crowd-sourced review site in July, claiming it had “gouged” the price of a capacitor she’d purchased, INSIDER reports.
Agostino reportedly wrote that she’d been charged $100 for the piece, but later learned from employees at Lowe’s that she could have purchased it for a cheaper price from the home improvement store.
The suit was filed days after Agostino left her review, and also after company owner Carrie Szajna responded in the comments section, saying that the price had been explained to Agostino over the phone, but that she “would not give me a moment to speak and then hung up on me.”
Szajna tells PEOPLE in a statement that Agostino had agreed to the $100 price three separate times. But after it was installed, she reached out and claimed that she’d found the part for a much cheaper price at Lowe’s.
To settle the dispute, Szajna says she offered to remove the part and told Agostino she would not be charged.
“I did this because I could see there was no pleasing her and she was trying to get something for free and I wanted to make her happy and diffuse the situation,” Szajna says.
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Szajna says Agostino’s negative review, which was also allegedly posted on Facebook, Angie’s List and Google, appeared several days later.
“I would like to stress that we tried several times to just get her to stop lying and posting false statements prior to filing,” she says. “She never paid anything, she was not scammed by me and my company … The entire situation brought me much sadness because all of my time and effort I have put into my company is being degraded.
Agostino’s attorney Clarence Dass, meanwhile, argued that the lawsuit is a violation of his client’s first amendment rights.
“Ms. Agostion has every right to go online to air out her grievances for bad service, just as we all do,” he tells PEOPLE in a statement. “Suing someone for a bad review is an abuse of the court system – it’s also an attempt to muzzle everyday customers’ free speech. We are confident this case will be resolved in our client’s favor.”
North Wind is seeking $25,000 in damages, arguing that Agostino’s review has led to a loss of six or more potential customers a day.