In a recent Ontario case, Canada Inc. (Ameublement Prestige Furniture) v Bisaillon, a retailer was awarded $15,000 Canadian Dollars in damages for defamation after the daughter of an unsatisfied customer began an e-mail campaign.
In this case the customer had purchased a dining room table which was damaged and there were attempts to fix it. Although the company offered to rebuild the table, the customer wanted a refund. When the customer didn’t get the refund, the customer’s daughter began an email campaign.
The daughter e-mailed 38 of her contacts using her work address. She inserted a logo that looked like the retailer’s and asked that the recipients to forward the email along to others. The email stated that the company was “an untrustworthy company and I strongly advise you to think twice before putting your trust and money in their hands!” and “We are all consumers and deserve to be made aware of deceitful companies who do not honour their Consumer’s Guarantee. BUYERS BEWARE!”
The Ontario court concluded that the daughter had gone too far and stated that emailing 38 people and asking them to pass it along constituted publication. Accusing the company of being untrustworthy and deceitful would clearly affect its reputation, character and business. The defamatory statements were not based on fact (at least not all of the available facts) and, in any event, the statements were based on malice. She openly stated that she wanted revenge.
Although this case concerned an email campaign, it can happen as easily on social media such as twitter/facebook. Those with a grievance would be well advised to sit back and think of the consequences before posting their rage online!