Rachel Sanoff
August 31, 2016 4:07 pm
Michelle Duchouquette/Facebook

Yelp has bestowed power upon the consumer like never before, with too many one-star reviews often aiding the demise of a specific business. In fact, Yelp has become a tool for online activists, who often leave negative Yelp reviews on establishments that have committed racial or gender discrimination toward customers.

And did you know that a Texas lawsuit attempted to strip away our right to leave a bad review on Yelp?!

Prestigious Pets, a pet-sitting business in Dallas, filed a lawsuit against Robert and Michelle Duchouquette after the couple left a one-star review, detailing specific complaints around poor communication and subpar maintenance of their pet’s fish bowl.

Yelp

Prestigious Pets claimed that the husband and wife violated their customer contract — which apparently stated that customers cannot publicly criticize Prestigious Pets. (?!?!) But the judge has now dismissed the lawsuit.

Prestigious Pets had been seeking $200,000 to $1 million in damages as they report the negative press harmed their business.

The lawsuit had even prompted Yelp to set up a specific kind of consumer alert for the first time. When folks went on to the page for Prestigious Pets, they were first greeted with a message warning potential customers that the business was making “questionable legal threats” against those who leave negative reviews.

As Paul Levy, attorney for the Duchouquettes and with Public Citizen, told BuzzFeed News: “What consumer wants to hire a company that sues its customers and has a non-disparagement clause in its contract?”

And the victory is certainly a relief for the Duchouquettes and consumers everywhere. Michelle Duchouquette told BuzzFeed, she is “thankful to have a ruling that supports our right to free speech.”

Yelp freely forever, one and all.

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