VW Owner Being Sued By Dealer For Posting Complaints

scott_schapiroscott_schapiro Member Posts: 4
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
Here is the link: http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=52126

Spread the word and post your support!


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    This is why Town Hall will not encourage or permit specific reference to a dealership's actual name, within a post about complaints, alleged misconduct, etc.

    This is also why car owners should work within the law to resolve complaints rather than resorting to guerilla tactics. One might be tempted to believe all those stories about how someone painted a lemon on their car and parked it in front of a dealership and miraculously got that new engine they've been crying for, but more likely than not such behavior causes even more grief for everyone.
  • kinleykinley Member Posts: 854
    is not allowed and should be met with legal action. Just because it's true doesn't make it legal to publish sad tidings about another person, business or entity. It would appear the dealer decided the VW Owner should be taught a lesson and be made to keep quiet.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Well, so much for freedom of speach.

    While I may not agree with the tactics, I don't agree with kinley.
    Realistically, if it were against an individual, I would agree, but a business advertises. Usually the advertisement makes some claim of honesty and on and on. If a person rebutes that and it is valid, then I would think it would have to be between the person and the business to get it squared away.

    If a person doesn't like something, they should be able to say they don't like it without fear of repercussions.
  • bidandsellbidandsell Member Posts: 43
    a dealership gets results though.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Freedom of Speech does not give you the right to unfairly ruin another's reputation or joepardize their livelihood. Freedom of Speech carries the burden of responsibility with it....like the famous ruling "freedom of speech does not give you the right to shout FIRE in a crowded theater."

    And besides, websites are not public forums like a streetcorner, especially when you have to register to enter them. They are more like private clubs, and a private club can throw you out if you misbehave. Stand up in a restaurant and scream THIS FOOD STINKS and see if you're not out on the sidewalk in a red hot minute.

    Same like when you curse on a radio call-in program. They can censor you.

    As for blocking a driveway, of course you can't lawfully do that either....but I suppose you could picket legally if you didn't obstruct anything, stayed on public property, and were careful what you wrote on your placard.

    Sometimes people count on getting their way by being such a nuisance that they will be paid off to go away. And sometimes this works. This time it didn't apparently.

    Getting your rights requires intelligence, cleverness and picking your best shots.
  • black_tulipblack_tulip Member Posts: 435
    "Freedom of Speech does not give you the right to unfairly ruin another's reputation ..." (emphasis mine)

    That is the crux. What would be a "fair" way to let the public know about the way I was treated so that I would be protected by the first amendment? In this case, it seems to me that the individual was simply relating his experience.
    On another note, I see so many posts in TH to the effect that "I had car x and it was terrible. Do not buy car x."
    Can these individuals be also sued by the manufacturer of car x?
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Actually, I have said that a restaurants food stinks. Have sent it back to the cook and told the manager it was absolutely awful.
    While I wasn't raising a commotion, I did voice my opinion.
    Letters to the editor in newspapers is along the same lines. There have been specific complaints about a place, thing or govt entity. These were the opinions of the person writing the letter to the editor.
    There is a difference between creating a commotion or endangering people and voicing your opinion.

    If I said that so and so shop treated me badly and I thought that they did bad work, then that is an opinion. If I am going to be sued because I have an opinion, then I might as well take up residency at a court house, sell off everything I own and prepare to spend alot of time in court.
    As has probably been noted, I am very opinionated. LOL!

    Politically correct "Freedom of speech" - You can say what you want, as long as it doesn't offend anyone. You won't know if it offends anyone until after you say it and then you will be responsible for damages to that person. So, until you can read minds, Freedom of speech means keep your mouth shut.

    Blocking a driveway is different, that is a physical thing.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, it doesn't have to be politically correct, it only has to avoid libel laws. People like author Henry Miller and comedian Lenny Bruce endured (literally) hundreds of court appearances and law suits for spreading "pornography". Miller eventually did okay (although his books were banned and actually burned in the US), but Bruce of course was crushed both legally and ultimately mentally. Maybe it had to do with the level of commotion each attempted to avoid or to raise. If you keep pulling on people's nostril hairs too hard they are going to get you. Demanding justice requires some finesse or you're going to get hurt. They even shot Ghandi, keep in mind.

    But now you can print pretty much what you want and say what you want on stage, again, within the bounds of the law, so we do owe Miller and Bruce a debt of gratitude (I THINK--lol!).

    These laws are very complex and I don't pretend to understand all the ins and outs. But I do know that if you attack a private citizen or businessman and attempt to ruin his reputation, you'd better have your facts in good order. I also know that libel is very hard to prove. I doubt the VW dealer will be successful. The lawsuit is obviously to intimidate someone into shutting up.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Ha ha, very well.
    One thing I always tell folks when they are dealing with someplace that is being "unjust".
    Stand firm, but remain calm. If you feel your control start to slip, even slightly, walk away and regain your compsure and re-approach it from a different angle. Most often, that is enough to let them see that you will stand firm and they stand to gain more by dealing with you, then fighting it.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    If this dealer sues, does that give every manufacturer or dealer of any product to go after anyone who complains. I think not. Unless the originator lied, he has the right to say so.

    It is pretty clear that many jumped in with their own complaints.

    His best bet is to straighten up, and watch his customer satisfaction in the future.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    My understanding is that whether you lied or not isn't the issue. The issue is that you have to prove the allegations you make. They just can't be "true", you have to prove them true or you have to cease and desist from posting. You got receipts? Witnesses?

    F'instance...let's say a poster says "Dealer X ripped me off! Dealer X is a crook!" and he posts this on 100 bulletin boards.

    Seems to me that Dealer X is going to be pretty upset with this and may challenge the poster legally to prove these claims. The poster may in fact have been ripped off, but can he prove it? Also, the poster has to explain his actions in posting on 100 boards. Is it revenge? Is it malice?

    So the way I see it is that you can't just be right, you have to prove you are right or shut up about it and take legal action yourself.

    Very often, the noisiest and most persistant complaintants DON"T have a good legal case, and they take to the streets in frustration, or, possibly, complete ignorance as to what legal rights they do have.

    You can't be a vigilante, in other words. You have to work within the law to get justice.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Seems like the folks who contribute to

    http://www.ripoffreport.com don't seem to worry about libel!
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    While I'm here, can somebody please tell me why I can't access Edmunds Town Hall (that page only) on my computer that runs WindowsME. I get an error message. In order to post anything here now I have to use my standby computer that runs Win98. I never had problems with ME before and have changed no settings. This has happened in the last few days. As I said, all other pages of Edmunds are ok except Town Hall.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Dunno what that could be. Why don't you run this problem past the hosts in the "Talk to the Hosts" discussion on the News and Views Board? Also, let me know in a few days by e-mail if this problem doesn't go away.

    Mr. Shiftright
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    I'll hang on for a few days and see what happens. It's very strange. As I said, all other sections of Edmunds work fine on that computer. I just can't get to Town Hall with it. The rest of the internet also works fine with the WinME computer.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Same problem here. When I try to access Town Hall with IE I get:

    Error In Script
    Sorry, we have a problem. This error has been logged and will be fixed soon.


    Edmunds Home Page
    The document has moved here. (here is a link which doesn't work)

    Works fine with Nutscape.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Member Posts: 885
    that "universal" java language that is supposed to be so great. I work with it daily, and I am still trying to figure out what it's done, other than require bigger and faster processors to drive the hog programs, to benefit the general public.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
    Hi guys,
    I found out from one of the hosts, that you have to delete the Edmunds cookies from your IE cookie folder.
    Go to My Computer, then to Windows, then to Cookies.
    Find all of the cookies that say Edmunds or TownHall and delete them. Once they are deleted, then you have to log on again.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    So if I toss my cookies my IE will work again? Hmm....I'll try anything once. LOL
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Hey, that worked! I'm back to my computer that uses WinME. No more problems.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Thanks O, I just found that out myself. Thanks for posting it.
  • 0patience0patience Member Posts: 1,712
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    It worked. YOU DE MAN!!
  • ocelot1ocelot1 Member Posts: 101
    Well why don't someone organise a picket party, some people with time to burn could go on down or up their and do some good old fashion picketing. One person from each state would be good if a million people or so have read this post 50 people should be easy to come up with.I've notice costomer service go down hill in the past 3-4 years with all business, I think that people are taking advantage of the tradition that has come from the costomer is allways right moto. NOT TO SAY THIS GUY IS WRONG! We are the consumer's we can run companys out of business. It happens all the time we stop buying they stop selling thats not a crime nor agaist any law.When insurence companys raise MY rates because of other peoples crimes or clames is that just to me that could be taking away my livley hood can I sue? Thats just one example of many.What about tech companys laying off 100 or 1000 workers thats peoples livley hood no sueing their.Freedom means ,in this country survival of the fitest.If JE goes down for this than so be it the people that will suffer the most will be the guy that washes the cars. or the counter clerk. on up the ladder.What this post means is I think that anyone can say anything about any company or person if they like it happens all the time and is excepted.What about the cases where the crimial sues the victoms and wins? or the family of the crimial sues the victoms and wins because their son or daughter was a good person and the victom had no wright to kill them for breaking into there house.These are samples of freedom of speech.Tony
  • mauislickmauislick Member Posts: 107
    there was a post on another forum saying that the dealer in question dropped the lawsuit........

    if true.....what does that tell us?????
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    scare tactic? Righteous indignation? Revenge? Hurt feelings? I dunno....
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Member Posts: 593
    I'm not a lawyer, and I'm not trying to start a "flame war", but I have a question or two here.
    I read the post from the VW forum, and I certainly can sympathize with "g-man" and his problems with the VW dealer. IMHO he presented his story in a reasonably well thought out, well written manner. He used proper grammer and spelling, no vulgarity, and did not threaten anyone, or any business. He simply stated his case as a warning to other potential VW buyers.
    If you read the Edmunds long term road test of the Lincoln LS, you'll also find reference to various dealer experiences that the Edmunds staff had during their time with the car. Their experiences were both positive and negative, and were reported as such.
    Why is it then, that if an individual states his problems it's potentially libel, but if Edmunds does it, it's OK ?? As I said, I'm not a lawyer, but isn't this a double standard ???
  • pjyoungpjyoung Member Posts: 885
    Edmunds does not attempt to damage the reputation of a dealer or individual. G-man did - he said as much himself. Therein lies the difference.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Member Posts: 593
    Are you saying intentionally cause damage to the dealer, or just cause damage by "telling it like it is"?
    I'm presently involved in a dispute with a dealer that I've done a lot of business with. I'm not directly stating that I want to "cause damage" to their business because I feel they've defrauded me, but when people ask me why I'm upset, I tell them why. Indirectly, this may cause damage to their business, but I certainly hope that this doesn't define a "libel" suit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Here are some statements that might help us to clarify:

    Libel is a legal term that describes a written form of defamation, which the dictionary defines as a
    "false or unjustified injury to someone's good reputation." Sometimes the word slander is used in
    the same breath as libel. The two terms mean the same thing, except that slander usually refers to
    defamatory statements about someone that are spoken to others rather than written in a
    newspaper, magazine article, or book.

    And just what is malice when it comes to proving libel? Retired Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.,
    who wrote the Sullivan decision, defined it as "knowledge that the [published information] was
    false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." In other
    words, public officials no longer could sue for libel simply by proving that something that had been
    broadcast or printed about them was false. Now they would have to prove that a journalist had
    knowingly printed false information while making little, if any, attempt to distinguish truth from lies.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    What I gather from this is that probably you'd get away with saying that the dealer "cheated" you, but you might not get away with claiming that the dealer "cheats everyone who comes in to his store".

    You might have some evidence of the first accusation, but you'd be hard put to prove the second one seems to me.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Member Posts: 885
    I posted in a similar thread in "News & Views" that there's no problem with "telling it like it is", but human nature is to embellish the story a bit to make matters seem worse than they actually are. Posting that "bent truth" on a public forum runs a risk of being considered libel.

    I had problems with a Ford Windstar and Thunderbird concerning head gaskets, and I posted my complaints all over these boards. I also had documentation to back up my claims. I was never threatened by Ford. I also took my case to small claims court and won, using the same information I had posted on the boards. But libel laws are weaker for corporations than they are for individuals, the thought being that corporations have access to the media that an individual doesn't have.

    From what I've read, the dealer has dropped the suit. Imagine the embarassment had the dealer sued and lost...and it's ultimately up to him to prove that the statements were false.

    FWIW, I'm not a lawyer either, but that is stuff that I found researching libel and slander.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Well the way I see it, if a person posts a negative report on a business on the Internet, that business has the right to post a rebuttal so that both sides of the story may be seen. In this way it's then left to the reader to decide the merits of the case.

    One of my favorite sites is http://www.ripoffreport.com The site allows for rebuttals from the accused party or business. As I said earlier on here, the folks posting there don't seem to worry about libel. In fact, I've even seen negative reports about law firms there. I feel that if the accusations are true and can be proven, then the accused party/business hasn't got much of a chance of winning in a libel suit.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, if they were all true to begin with, I think the accused party would be an idiot to sue. Nothing like the publicity of a law suit to REALLY let everyone know what a sleaze the person is.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Member Posts: 593
    I've read many of the postings on that site, and in fact posted one there myself. What turns me off about the site is the lack of "polish" and/or terrible grammar and poor spelling used by many of the posters.
    Although the site could have a positive effect for consumers that have truly been mislead, the crudeness of some of the posts tends to take away a lot of the credibility of what the people are saying.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Sure it does. While ranting does insure a small number of similar recruits, when it comes to actually getting somewhere, a rant is a relatively powerless way of getting anything.

    One reason for that is that ranting, or anger, blinds a person from an understanding how a system works and how to defeat it.

    Basically, they are getting in their own way.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    I agree that some of the posts are terrible. However, I wouldn't judge all of the posters by their spelling or grammar. Maybe their French or German or Spanish is better than yours? That however does not change the fact that libel for what they are saying does not seem to concern them or the site. That's why I mentioned it. We are after all talking about libel.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I don't think some website is all that much threat to a person's reputation, unless it was perahps some mega-site and the site was totally spammed with the evil comments.

    Who's afraid of www.sorehead.com with their 15 hits a day?

    Grammar and Spelling---gee, how else are you supposed to judge what you are reading? If a person cares enough to post so as to gather support in a worthy cause, they should care enough to get the help necessary to sound coherent. There are probably lots of English-speaking people within 100 yards of his/her computer that would help them so they don't sound like illiterate lunatics. Even the simplest English can be beautiful and make sense.
  • 79377937 Member Posts: 390
    Yah well, just be carefull the guy you judge isn't some German rocket scientist shust from Shermany out! Maybe he sits up in his attic at night all alone. He posts his bitter and twisted veiws on how he was screwed by company so and so on the Internet. He has no one near him to ask how to spell or if his grammar is correct. Who knows? He is pissed off and wants to vent his feelings NOW! You see.....there is an explanation for everything!
  • kinleykinley Member Posts: 854
    Glad to hear you won in Small Claims Court. How quickly did the opposition satisfy you afterwards and what did they do to "happyize" you?
  • pjyoungpjyoung Member Posts: 885
    In Kansas, the most you can get in small claims court is $1,800. I was out $1,975. The judge (who was also on the board of the local Sports Car Club of America chapter) took the case under advisement and returned the verdict after checking the Chiltons and Mitchell manuals to verify information the Ford rep gave him about the bore on the 3.8 engine used in the 93 T-bird being different from that in the 94 and 95 T-birds. There wasn't any difference. I was awarded $1,800 plus court costs plus interest - Ford sent me a check within a couple of weeks for...$1,975.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Keep in mind with Small Claims that this is a civil judgment and it is up to YOU to collect.

    Many times judgments are awarded in SCC but the people don't pay anyway, and then you have to sue them the "regular" way or get a lien or garnishee--all big pains in the butt. Small Claims Court is not going to send out the police to help you, you know.
  • pjyoungpjyoung Member Posts: 885
    All true, although in Kansas, if they haven't satisfied the judgement within 2 weeks, you just have to let the court know and they will start the lien/garnishment process for you - but Ford was very prompt with payment. The student with the problem in this situation wouldn't have stood a chance in small claims court, since spreading grease on a carseat isn't breaking any laws.
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Member Posts: 593
    All of the years I spent in school, I was taught that if you wanted results, you had to make you case in clear, proper, and easy to understand language. Being reasonably polite is also very helpful.
    Therefore, I still stand by my original comment, and agree totally with shiftright's additional remarks in that vein.
This discussion has been closed.