What to do abut a dissatisfied customer who is badmouthing my business?

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What to do abut a dissatisfied customer who is badmouthing my business?

I am a new shop owner. I replaced a headgasket on a customers vehicle about 6 weeks ago. She drove the vehicle for about 2 weeks when the water pump went out and she over heated the vehicle. I replaced the water pump and didn’t charge her for the coolant lost. Now she has taken it to a different shop in town for the heater not blowing hot enough. The other shop has told her that the head gasket is blown and it didn’t need the water pump that I put on. She has been spreading rumors that my shop charged her $700 and did not fix her car. She has threatened to take me to court to get her money back. Could she do that and could I sue her for slander?

Asked on December 18, 2012 under Business Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) If she believes you committed fraud (lied about what you could or would do), breached the contract/agreement (whether oral or written) by not fixing what you agreed to fix, and/or were negligent (unreasonably careless) in performing the work, she can sue you. She would only win if she, as the plaintiff (the person suing) can prove her case by a "preponderance of the evidence," or that it is more likely than not that matters are as she alleges.

2) She can tell people she intends to sue you.

3) If she makes false statements of fact about your business to other people, which statements damage your reputation, you may be able to sue her for defamation. However, only false factual statements are actionable. So if she says you did sloppy work or charged too much, that is not defamation: that is an opinion. If she says you lied about replacing the headgasket and never replaced it, when you did not lie about it and did in fact replace it, that, however, could be defamation--that is a false factual statement. If you believe she may have committed defamation, you should speak with a personal injury attorney to evaluate the potential case and your options.


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