What is my legal obligation and recourse regarding a dissatisfied customer and continuing harrassment?

I own a small hair salon. A customer said I cut her hair too short. She paid and left. A few hours later, her husband called. He proceeded to tell me that his wife was extremely unhappy and asked what I was going to do to fix it. I offerred a refund and additional free future services. He proceeded to threaten me with “blowing up the internet with bad reviews”, “Spreading the word around the community of the bad service, and “coming down to beat me up” if I didn’t fix the problem, since I couldn’t “give her hair back”.

Asked on July 28, 2014 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) He threatened you with violence, which is a crime; you should document this by contacting the police and filing a police report.

2) If they post anything online that is negative and factually untrue, that may be defamation and you could sue them, seeking both monetary compensation and also a court order that they take down the defamatory reviews.

Note that an opinion, however negative, is not defamation--everyone is entitled legally to their own opinion, even dumb, unfair ones. So saying, "this is the worst haircut I ever got and the stylist was rude" is not defamation--both those statements are opinions. But saying that you are not licensed for example, or that you charged more than you said you would, or that you deliberately gave the wife a bad haircut, etc., could be defamation, because those are untrue factual assertions.


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