WeddingDepot Wants Our “Libelous” Post Removed

WeddingDepot.com wants our post detailing an exchange between themselves and a customer, which they call libel, removed.

President / Owner / Customer Service Rep of WeddingDepot.com Shaun Larson wonders if the post “breaks” our “terms of service,” and, “content is permitted, authorized, and approved by Gawker Media. “

“If it is not and does break your TOS, we request that the content be removed immediately,” writes Shaun.

Nope. Sorry. We don’t remove posts. A more cost effective solution is to spend less time hunting down negative reviews and more on improving your customer service and professionalism.

WeddingDepot’s full letter, inside…


Shaun writes:

    “WeddingDepot.com Admin
    date:2:19 pm
    to:tips@consumerist.com, marco@consumerist.com
    cc: admin@weddingdepot.com,legal@weddingdepot.com
    date Jan 3, 2007 2:19 PM
    subject: Site Use
    mailed-by: weddingdepot.com

    Hello there,

    We became aware today of a customer who apparently is on a rampage to harm our company through libel posting on the Internet. We are proceeding to evaluate legal actions against the person and those propagating the information. After reviewing your Terms of Service (http://gawker.com/advertising/legal/privacy-policy/), it appears the content at this address
    http://www.consumerist.com/consumer/complaints/weddingdepots-nonresponsive-passive-aggressive-customer-service-225599.php does not fall within your designed use for your service. We are contacting you to confirm if this content is permitted, authorized, and approved by Gawker Media. If it is not and does break your TOS, we request that the content be removed immediately.

    An efficient response would be greatly appreciated as we plan to move quickly on the harm that is being done to our company. Thank you.

    Shaun Larson
    President / Owner”

— BEN POPKEN

Previously: WeddingDepot’s Nonresponsive, Passive Aggressive, Customer Service

Comments

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  1. Oooh. Fight! Fight! Fight!

  2. Wondered how long it would take before he came after you.

    Note to Shaun: It’s not libel if it’s true.

    Excellent strategy, by the way, to a) provide poor customer service documented in e-mail and b) go after customers for libeling you. I bet that’s REALLY gonna grow your customer base. “Uh oh, if I order from Wedding Depot and he makes a simple merchandise error, the owner will first insult me and then threaten to sue me!”

  3. rubberpants says:

    Shaun forgot his full title: President / Owner / Customer Service

  4. chagasi says:

    Libel must be both malicious (able to cause harm) and be false. Assuming the poster has evidence to support the veracity of the post, a claim of libel is baseless.

    e.g. truth that is harmful is not libel
    falsehoods that are not harmful (a matter of opinion) is also not libel, but is more legally dicey.

  5. Itch says:

    Aaand there goes what support I had for the guy.

    Mind you I wonder if people have been harrassing him since the contact info was posted in the other thread.

  6. acambras says:

    IANAL, but how does he have a basis for libel claims? His e-mails speak for themselves. Like the saying goes — never put something in an e-mail unless you want it on a billboard above your head.

    He mentioned that an efficient response would be appreciated. You guys should take a page from his playbook and take your sweet time getting back to him.

  7. snazz says:

    his letter makes it sound like he thinks the consumerist is a free for all forum, like craiglist, and loren posted this story herself. in doing so, he is asking if this violates the TOS of the consumerist and should be removed. i dont think he realizes there is an editorial staff that picks everything to post.

  8. brennan73 says:

    Ben, did Shaun specify what is supposedly false in all this? As noted above, truth is an absolute defense against libel.

  9. AcilletaM says:

    Maybe he should spend more time painting custom ornaments and less time surfing the net. May do wonders for customer service.

  10. I love the very helpful links to your own site. Oh you mean I posted that? really?! Hmmm.

  11. kcskater says:

    rubberpants, you forgot “/ Lawyer”

    What’s the bet that his “CC” to legal@xxx bounces back to him as it was probably a blind threat?

  12. Kornkob says:

    Nah. He’s a typical small businessman who doesn’t fully understand the legal terminology he’s using. Strike that— he’s the typical American who doesn’t fully udenrstand the terminology he is using.

    He’s also much like most of the small businesspeople I’ve run into who may be professional business managers but aren’t experts at handling customer service incidents. Strike that— he’s much like most managers I’ve met who may be professional business managers but aren’t experts at handling customer service incidents.

  13. Theora says:

    It’s not libel if it’s true.

    Prove that you’re not running a shit company, and I’ll rally behind you to have The Consumerist remove the article … but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    While you’re at it, you may want to consider suing the BBB for giving the company an “unsatisfactory” rating.

    http://data.middletennessee.bbb.org/commonreport.html?bid=

    The closest thing to a satisfactory end to a complaint was “Company addressed the complaint issues. The consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to the BBB.” I don’t doubt that the “acceptance” involved you saying “Here’s your money back, I don’t want to fix your problem, lalala, I can’t hear you, stop sending me email.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course, but wasn’t that the general idea of the last email in the disputed article? Douchebaggery seems to be your MO.)

  14. spanky says:

    Nice use of the royal we, Shaun! Especially the CC:ed copies to ‘admin’ and ‘legal.’

    Or do I judge too hastily? Could it be that WeddingDepot, a company with no customer service department, actually has an attorney on staff?

  15. Shaun,

    Can I interest you in $10 worth of ice cream?

  16. magic8ball says:

    Oddly enough, I think he’s just doing what a lot of consumers do – when they don’t like what someone else is doing, they threaten legal action. In some cases the threat is enough to get the other party to cease and desist.

  17. “IANAL, but how does he have a basis for libel claims?”

    He doesn’t. It’s a common strategy for bullies. I worked in print media for a while, and then as a media lawyer intern, and many publications get threats like this daily with absolutely no basis in reality. People do something stupid or ugly, then become infuriated when other people talk about it, and instead of apologizing, behaving with dignity, repairing the damage, or ignoring it, they become infuriated and start screaming “Libel! Slander!” and threatening to bring in the lawyers.

    You’ll note that these threat letters basically never come from lawyers, because they can’t get a lawyer who’ll take a case with no merit.

    They also tend to come from people who respond emotionally to public business or political issues and take any criticism as a personal attack; people who think it is an insult and an affront to be asked to explain themselves (particularly politicians who resent being held responsible to their constituency); and from people who think they can bully others into doing what they want.

    My observational experience is that in large companies they don’t last long when they have any contact with the media or the legal department, because they do too much damage, but if they’re a small-business owner or a junior high school principal or a petty local politician, they’ll be there forever, threatening libel every time they’re criticized and lashing out at media, customers, students, employees, etc., instead of working to build bridges or explain themselves.

    But yeah, this is a pretty classic example. Anyone in print media has probably seen dozens of these.

  18. MeOhMy says:

    He demands an efficient response. Sweet, sweet irony.

  19. srhbks says:

    I am uncertain why Shaun is inflating it to be a situation where he is a victim. That is something he is imagining.

  20. srhbks: Hey now, don’t resort to name calling ;) hahaha *wipes tear from eye*

    This is all classic. I’d love to see how a Gawker Media privacy policy applies to people aren’t users of Gawker Media (ie: commentators)

  21. RandomHookup says:

    Okay everybody, wave to the nice man…

  22. Perhaps Shaun is referring to the personal references to him in the article as slander (I’m not sure if it is or not). However, describing the situation with the company itself can hardly be slander.

    Can there be slander against a corporation?

    On an aside, it’s amusing that Shaun doesn’t realize the scope of the situation he has on his hands now. Reminds me of that lady that was giving Ben direction on how to be a reporter for his “blog.”

  23. acambras says:

    Hey, in Ben’s defense, he refrained from using the “douchebag” tag on this post.

  24. Phlipper says:

    This is awesome on so many levels. Go Spanky for pointing out the CCs.

    Shaun’s business philosophy: the customer is always right one logical argument from seeing you are right.

  25. KevMa says:

    Another great consumerist story :) Thanks again! (not being sarcastic)

  26. acambras says:

    Oooh, ooh, ooh! Is Shaun trying to claim libel because Ben called the merchandise “cheesy” ?

  27. Kornkob says:

    IANAL but…crayon, Shaun isn’t claiming slander he mentions libel, which is very similar (both being forms of defamation) but distictly different.

    That being said, I imagine that if the representative of a company gave a speech with defamatory comments and that company did nothing to correct it (or worse, endorsed the statements) one might be able to claim that the company itself is liable for the slanderous statement.

  28. tjrchicago says:

    Actually, I think he might be panicking right now. Remember, he also runs a wedding photography business. While folks may not do a google search on weddingdepot.com before placing an order, most people WILL google search the wedding photographer/studio they are about to book. Keeping in mind the photographer is the one hired individual at your wedding that you are GOING to spend the entire day with, the attitude of that person can make or break your day. If folks run across Consumerist while searching on him, my guess is he will never photograph another wedding…

  29. Greeper says:

    I hereby revoke my previous comments that this douchebag has anything to recommend him.

  30. lazyazz says:

    What a dumb ass. No I am by no means imune from the dumb ass disease but this guy takes the cake.

  31. lazyazz says:

    See, I even misspelled immune.

  32. lazyazz says:

    And typoed Now.

  33. lazyazz says:

    God, I am a dumb ass.

  34. lazyazz says:

    God I am a dumb ass.

  35. WorldofChe says:

    Best part of this is definitely the CC to legal@.

    It didn’t even cross my mind that while the owner of the company was sending emails back and forth with one customer all day, his business probably came to a screeching halt, as he is no doubt the production manager, ornament personalizer, packer, shipper, and janitor in addition to lawyer and stellar customer service rep!

    What a tool.

    Just say you were pissed off because your dog chewed up your favorite 4 wood, and you took it out on a customer, when all they deserved was an apology for your mistake and a freaking personalized ornament shipped to them ASAP!

    I repeat, what a tool.

    I’m getting married next month, does anyone have a wedding photographer they can recommend?

  36. DeeJayQueue says:

    “You’re a Douchebag.” = not slander
    “Hey Mister Third Party, see that guy there? He’s a Douchebag” = slander.
    “I ordered this thing and I got the wrong item.” = not libel
    “The box contained the disembodied head of an infant!” = libel (unless that’s really what was in the box.)

  37. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Is it just me, or does the name “Wedding Depot” sound very….well, not romantic.

  38. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @DeeJayQueue

    What if I you say something that is clearly not true, like “WeddingDepot stole my car and killed my dog!”..?

  39. bluegus32 says:

    DeeJayQueue: slight correction. “Hey Mister Third Party, see that guy there? He’s a Douchebag” does not equal slander.

    Slander definitionally requires that the thing that you are saying about someone be a false fact. E.g. — he is a murderer, rapist, etc.

    Calling someone a douchebag is not intended to relay to anybody a statement of fact. It is, by its very nature, name calling and therefore known by all to be an expression of an opinion. It would be the same as calling someone a jerk. Opinions cannot form the basis for a claim of libel. Therefore, calling someone a douchebag is not libelous.

  40. bluegus32 says:

    AlteredBeast — the question of whether something is slanderous is an objective one. The question is would a reasonable person consider the statement to be one that conveys a fact intended to be understood as true. If someone says, “WeddingDepot stole my car and killed my dog” then arguably the reasonable person would understand this to be an exercise in hyperbole and farce. If, however, a reasonable person would take that statement and believe it to be a true factual statement, then you’re looking at slander. Your hypothetical — probably not slander.

  41. Woops, yeah, I guess I meant libel, not slander…it’s all greek to me anyway.

  42. Steve_Holt says:

    I can’t explain how glad I was, after reading the entire original email exchange, to open up this post and see “Hello there,” once again.
    Does every single email he sends begin this way? Maybe he’s got an auto-introduction in his mail along with his signature.

    “You’re a Douchebag.”
    (I’m safe)

  43. Framling says:

    A quick NetworkSolutions Whois reveals one ‘Larson, Shaun **’ to be the administrative contact for WeddingDepot.com. His email is listed as ‘admin@weddingdepot.com,’ meaning, so far as I can tell, that he cc’d himself.

    In a similarly classy fashion, the listed contact phone number is ’9999999999′ and the listed Fax is ’123 123 1234.’

  44. Johann says:

    Shaun accuses the Consumerist of aiding Loren in trying to harm WeddingDepot — that’s some serious stuff. Just think of the terrible damage claims like this could do to the Consumerist’s reputation. Time for Gawker Media to take some legal action!

  45. ediebeale says:

    I want Shaun to get a commenter invite, I needs me some of that holier-than-thou purple prose.

  46. Antediluvian says:

    It seemed he was calling Loren’s email libel, not the Consumerist’s comments or postings.

    Maybe they are, maybe they’re not.
    He seems nice enough about it, not threatening to sue but requesting that if something violates Gawker’s TOS, please remove it. No direct threats, only the mild inference about “those propagating the information.”

    So far, he’s not really the bad guy in all this.

    Of course, that said, I don’t think I would have thrown this fuel on the fire.

  47. squidhat says:

    Here’s some libel: WeddingDepot.com has poor personal hygeine, and scores lower on standardized aptitude tests than other online wedding retailers.

  48. kcskater says:

    slander = spoken; libel = written.

  49. ckilgore says:

    Wedding Depot stole my bah-bay!

  50. rekoil says:

    Ah, memories…

    In college I was the production monkey for the school newspaper. One story we ran involved the unexpected dismissal of a popular professor and the deafening silence of the department when asked to comment on the matter. The dean of the department called our news editor the next day, and unloaded a verbal howitzer on him (everyone in the room could hear the guy screaming in the editor’s earpiece). The editor patiently waited for him to finish his tirade, and then said: “Sir, can you direct me to any statement in this story that is demonstrably false?”

    (silence)

    The call ended quietly and we never heard any more from the dean on the matter.

  51. homerjay says:

    OH SWEET! I was thinking of starting my own online wedding supply company and in just a few months I’m sure the URL weddingdepot.com will be available!

    Dude- If WalMart, Cingular, and Best Buy didn’t even try to stop Consumerist by claiming libel, what chance do YOU have? HAHAHAHAHAHA

  52. drbrn_grl says:

    srhbks — Thanks for making me laugh. While sitting all alone in my office. And people walking by and looking at me funny.

    This is such a lost opportunity for Shaun. What if he had written to Consumerist and said, “Look, I screwed up. I was having a bad day and I took it out on a customer. I’m horrified by what I did and I’m going to do everything I can to make it up to her.”

    I don’t think he has to worry about losing business because of Loren. He’s handling that quite nicely all on his own.

  53. Timbojones says:

    I don’t understand how the TOS could possibly be construed as excluding the original post. I’ve read through it, I don’t get it.

    Can anyone shed some hypothetical light?

  54. Gopher bond says:

    Weddingdepot.com’s shipping policy on their website regarding correction is pretty vague. They say that if you receive the wrong item contact them within 10 days. They then go on to say if the item shipped matches what they have in their system they will ship the additional items and treat it as a separate order with shipping being billed to the customer.

    But they never say what happens if they make a mistake.

  55. prackin says:

    Well the strange part is that Wedding Depot DID kill my dog. Poor little Twatwaffle!

  56. Timbojones says:

    Oh, I get it. He talks about the TOS, but links to the privacy policy. Clicking on Terms of Use, I see there “Do not post threatening, harassing, defamatory, or libelous material.” For the comments section. So I see now where he gets the idea. It’s just so horribly misguided. :sigh:

  57. ampersandc says:

    Wow, I am not a Wedding Depot Employee, but after reading this I’m almost sure Shaun’s titles include

    President / Owner / Customer Service / Shipping Manager & V.P. of Public Relations

  58. shelo says:

    Here’s a self-portrait of Shaun Larson from his own web site: http://www.larsonart.com/blog/images/20061125d.jpg

  59. WV.Hillbilly says:

    Wow.
    He really is a douchebag.

  60. TinaT says:

    Even if the original email from Loren contained actionable libel, which is hardly likely, I don’t see how Consumerist could be liable for quoting it in context. The email exchange occurred as presented, and people had opinions about it.

    Then again, most people really are ignorant about libel and slander. I actually had a woman tell me in all seriousness that I had broken the law by calling her a bitch on my blog.

  61. Sudonum says:

    Well apparently he is no better as a lawyer then he was as a CSR.

  62. pantsonfire says:

    @prackin

    Twatwaffles = Eggos worst marketing idea ever.

  63. Jon says:

    “:…it appears the content at this address does not fall within your designed use for your service.”

    Wait, what? Isn’t that post the whole point of this site?

  64. Kangarara says:

    Oh man, I so totally hope that this guy doesn’t have the sense to drop this… wouldn’t it be something to have the post-flame-of-the-year on the 3rd day of it? I’m practically drooling with anticpation.

  65. phelander says:

    Douchebag, thy name is Larson.

  66. AcilletaM says:

    Dugg.

  67. gypsychk says:

    This has been fun, but now let’s give the guy a chance to save face. Let him do the right thing, make nice, turn this into a success story, we all move on and go back to talking about Walmart Nazi Verizon Math Lower Your Cable Bill shirts.

    The Consumerist is a nice place to expose crappy consumer experiences, sure. But isn’t the point to improve such experiences in the future? Not to drive small businesses into the ground, neh?

  68. Touche gypsychk.

    Athough, that doesnt mean this guy isnt a douchebag.

  69. Is he saying that she faked/changed the text in his responses or something?

  70. gypsychk says:

    TOTAL douchebag! No question.

  71. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Okay….if anybody asks….I didn’t make this.

    *looks around*

    http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/7953/weddinglarsonmd1.jpg

    *runs away*

  72. gypsychk says:

    Wow. This is possibly the most costly attempt at a $15 savings in the history of time.

  73. john_nyc says:

    I think that Shaun should be happy for all the free publicity.

    I know that if I ever have to buy stuff for a trailer park wedding I now know EXACTLY where to shop!

    Can you imagine how many hits his site has gotten today? He should put up some banner ads or something and make a little extra money.

  74. ikes says:

    alteredbeast! you just made me spit water all over my keyboard.

  75. Hoss says:

    Larson — Next time you’re inclined to threaten legal action (to a blogger, no less!), instead of copying “Legal”, ask Legal to do it for you! (Assuming Weddingdepot has a General Counsel which I strongly doubt)

  76. wenhaver says:

    Wow. I thought this dude was a jackass from the first post. Now I KNOW he’s a jackass. Even if you do know the proper definition of libel, threatening legal action against a (former – remember, he terminated their business relationship) customer on a public blog geared towards consumers just seems to be one of the dumbest ideas you could possibly have.

    While they didn’t lose potential a customer in me – they don’t sell anything I’d ever buy, I still laugh in this guy’s general direction.

  77. homerjay says:

    Why do I get the feeling that Shaun was, at one point, a HUGE fan of Consumerist. That point being when we were all trashing that gay-bashing landscaper in Texas.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that… I’m just sayin…

  78. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I would be interested in a compilation of all the legal threats Consumerist has gotten over time.

  79. Theora says:

    @AlteredBeast

    Regarding http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/7953/weddinglarsonmd1.j… …

    I think I love you.

  80. Xkeeper says:

    It definitely sounds like a load of trash, considering…

    Well, if he’s the “admin” of the site, why would he cc: it to himself?

    Maybe to prove it got sent, but just because it was accepted by your own server doesn’t mean anything…

    But yeah, this guy has no idea what he’s saying.

  81. LTS! says:

    PILE ON!!!!!!

    Oh… I think Shaun has a point. Unfortunately it seems to be jammed up his arse and it’s making him cranky.

    PROCTOLOGIST – remove the bug from your nether area.

  82. missdona says:

    @ AlteredBeast

    You’re my new best online friend.

  83. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Hehe, I’m glad the picture was well received!

    Not…that I made it….since I don’t want to be sued for libel!

  84. legotech says:

    Do people really enjoy having their wedding pictures look like giant corporate motiviational posters? I mean if I were looking for samples of his work before I hired him, that right there would totally exclude him from my short list.

  85. katewrath says:

    Oh, the irony! Just when it seemed this whole thing was done–Shaun kicks it up a notch. Well played, sir! The commenters on Consumerist would have eventually wearied of insisting that theirs was the most accurate perspective on who-is-the-bigger-jerk-here, but now, we have your asshattery ™ to revel in. Delicious!

    (For the record, I am on the customer’s side, but I admit to being secretly charmed by the ever-increasing subtle hostility in Shaun’s emails. He’s made my day a little brighter and for that, I thank him.)

  86. weave says:

    Wow. You know, I have little tolerance for irrational whining customers either, and I had a bit of sympathy for the guy at first, but this just clinches it. He’s a douchebag.

    btw, a domain can be set up with a wildcard so email to anything at that domain will go to the same person. I bet if you emailed douchebag@weddingdepot.com it would get to the guy.

  87. Holy crap! Talk about a good ole internet lynching!

    I guess we’ll have to add poor Shaun to the list.

  88. coreyclaytonlnp says:

    Reminds me of a line from Spiderman:

    Peter Parker: Spider-Man wasn’t trying to attack the city, he was trying to save it. That’s slander.
    J. Jonah Jameson: It is not. I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print, it’s libel.

    LOL…

  89. Wow, what a douchebag.

    This is why I love the internet. If you’re a douchebag, the internet will make you pay. Now this jackass is all over digg, and very shortly I am confident that Googling WeddingDepot will yield these Consumerist pages.

    Gotta love a hard lesson.

  90. dontera says:

    I regret having kinda sorta defended Shaun yesterday. I thought maybe he was just a CS rep who had had one too many pushy/whiny customer experiences recently.

    I take it all back, he’s a douche bag…

  91. acambras says:

    LOL — so how many people have tried sending e-mails to douchebag@weddingdepot.com yet? :-)

  92. SteveO says:

    Hey everyone, this is my first post. What a beautiful thread to stumble upon for this occaision, eh?

    When I read the original post yesterday I sort of thought the guy was just tired of dealing with a particularly whiney customer and probably stepped over the line out of frustration. But now it’s painfully clear that he just a conceited fuckstick.

    I also picked up on his delightfully sneaky use of the legal@ CC. Shaun, you may be horrible at customer service and public relations, but I commend you for your subtle use of threatening language and pretend legal department.

  93. homerjay says:

    Oooh! We ALMOST made it to 100 comments on this one. Too late now, its on the second page.

  94. Trai_Dep says:

    heh heh. Love how he cc:d “legal@weddingdepot.com”, as though this email was going to somplace else besides his spare bedroom/home office.

    I wonder if, when he wants to impress gullible 14-year-olds, he cc:s “multimillionaire-supersexy-stud@weddingdepot.com”? (heading to the same spare bedroom, of course)

    How… Craptastic!!

  95. homerjay says:

    I wonder if it would have worked better for him if he just picked a big law firm and copied the email with some made-up name, like cc: pfuller@cranepooleschmidt.com that is, if that URL existed.

  96. davehimself says:

    Is it me or is Consumerist’s response just a little harsh. It sort of sensationalizes the issue. THe words used are…

    “If it is not and does break your TOS, we request that the content be removed immediately,”

    “If” and “request” imply to me that the sender is being somewhat reasonable. Take away the “if” and change request to “demand” and you’ve got a reason for lashing out.

  97. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I am tempted to send an email to Larson, something along the lines of

    “I was looking to hire a photographer for my dauther’s wedding, and was very interested in your services, but recently came across postings regarding your company at consumerist.com. These have brought up concerns about your business ethics, and have caused me to have second thoughts in comissioning your services. What has been done to resolve the complaint posted? What assurance do I have that, if the services you provide fall short of satisfactory, that the issue will be resolved without threats of litigation?”

    …just to see what happens…and freak him out a bit.

  98. gte910h says:

    http://www.weddingdepot.com is the site in question?

    So you say he also runs http://www.larsonart.com/ Are you sure its that wedding photographer in Tennesee? I mean, if its the same guy, we should definitly avoid him for weddings in Tennesee. I would hate to have a bad photographer for a moment you’ll never be able to repeat again. I can imagine bad business acumen would translate into “Photo hostage” situations. Lawson Art would be hellish if the wedding depot is bad when the stakes are so low.

    Anyone from the consumerist staff wish to check if this is the right photo company to link to on this story?

  99. Demingite says:

    I agree that he’s made some condemnable choices (as we all have some time or another), and his “legal” email only made things worse, but this feels to me a bit like a lynch mob. A huge gang descending on one guy trying to make a living, if ineptly. While his actions are deplorable, and Loren deserves recompense, it’s not like we are talking about, say, AOL, which systematically ripped off thousands of people. I think some perspective, and a crumb of empathy, is called for. It would model the empathy we wish he had had for Loren. That doctored “douchebag” photo, for one, crosses the line, in my opinion. It severely maligns a total stranger, I think well out of proportion to what he’s done. There are certainly worse villians in this world, for consumers and more generally.

  100. Demingite says:

    PS: NoKa chocolates is also apparently a small shop, but they have arguably bilked thousands of people for thousands of dollars. Lousy/ill-tempered customer service over a busy holiday season from a one-man-shop wedding photographer/ornament maker is comparatively a tiny drop of water within a sea of anti-consumer business practices. It’s not something, in my opinion, worth the big guns that have been drawn here. NoKa chocolates, on the other hand, probably deserves to be shut down for good, and I would argue that AOL, Best Buy, and probably Jiffy Lube are worth the big guns.

  101. acambras says:

    @gte910h — yes, that is the same guy.

    @Demingite — ok, maybe thing have gotten a LEETLE out of control.

    It is interesting to note that this post about the libel allegations has gotten more attention (if one goes by comment counts) and drawn more attention to the issue than the original post did.

    If I had to summarize this whole situation, it would be as follows:
    -Customer has bad experience with online retailer
    -”CSR” from retailer (which turns out to be a one-man operation) engages in lengthy, escalating e-mail exchange with customer. Argues with customer about fault and semantics. Never apologizes.
    - Customer forwards all correspondence to Consumerist, along with consent to post it. Consumerist posts it.
    - Commenters weigh in. Some defend retailer, but most rail against his lack of empathy and lack of professionalism for taking things personally and arguing with a customer.
    - Retailer contacts Consumerist expressing concerns about a libelous attack against him. Inquires about Gawker policy and requests that post be removed. Copies e-mail to “admin” and “legal.” Consumerist posts the e-mail, along with a refusal to remove the first post.
    - Now most commenters really rail against retailer — even commenters who had initially defended him. Many zero in on the “copies” sent to “admin” and “legal,” since it’s become clear that this guy is President/CEO/Boy Friday.

    So I guess I just did summarize…

  102. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    ^^ I agree with you abot NoKa chocolate, that is a huge scam.

  103. Trai_Dep says:

    Small guy, big guy: you hang a shingle out for business, you need to have at least a modicum of professionalism. Extra chocolate kisses for empathy and going the extra mile to make the customer happy.

    I think that if he only failed on the latter, we’d shrug. I’d cut him slack. But his initial series of escalating, self-immolating responses to a consumer merely trying to get what she ordered without spending her time and money to fix his screwup is what provoked the backlash.

    Everything else is gravy. I’m sympathetic to small business owners. But “small” doesn’t excuse woefully hostile attitude towards consumers. That’s why I think it belongs here, and our reactions are fair. If a bit snarky.

  104. gypsychk says:

    I’d summarize the situation this way:

    - Two gaping assholes have a bun fight over email, with no actual fraud having taken place.
    - World goes mad.

    It’s what happens next that matters. I’d like it not to be: weddingdepot.com goes out of business, and child in background of doctored photo isn’t sure where next meal will be coming from.

  105. Sheik says:

    If he was gonna refund her money and just have her throw the candlestick out why not just ship her the damn ornament and not refund the money. He’s will to take the hit for the candlestick, seemed to not be a problem for him. Instead of looking like the jackass that he has made of himself why not just take the hit for the shipping too and save the order. Seems to me like it would have been worth it to avoid all this negative publicity and risk losing all this business that Loren would have brought to him , providing her friends have equally bad taste in ornaments.

  106. Demingite says:

    gypsychk: I completely agree with your statement, “It’s what happens next that matters. I’d like it not to be: weddingdepot.com goes out of business, and child in background of doctored photo isn’t sure where next meal will be coming from.

    We are talking about a real human being here.

    I’m sure this has been one heck of a learning experience for the key individual involved, regarding understanding customers’ perspectives better, and the dangers of faking email ccs (the latter quite possibly a function of understandable panic…brains under severe stress don’t work too well). But has his behavior earned his life being ruined?

    To the webmaster and all commenters, including myself: We have a lot of power here, in this new world. (cf. Time magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year.) Let’s be careful, and use it well.

  107. spinachdip says:

    davehimself says:

    Is it me or is Consumerist’s response just a little harsh. It sort of sensationalizes the issue. THe words used are…

    “If it is not and does break your TOS, we request that the content be removed immediately,”

    “If” and “request” imply to me that the sender is being somewhat reasonable. Take away the “if” and change request to “demand” and you’ve got a reason for lashing out.

    Lacking context, I might agree with you. But from the way he argued the connotation of “victim” and his smarmy “I want to help you if you’d let me” tone in the previous post, it’s fair to say that Shaun is a tad bit passive aggressive. So I took his cease-and-desist-if-it’s-not-too-much-trouble as more of the same. There’s nothing reasonable about it.

    I’d have more respect for the douchebag if he came out and said, “This exchange never happened and/or xxx is clearly false and libelous. Cease and desist, motherfucker.”

    This vague, patronizing and passive aggressive approach is worse than straight up douchebaggery. If a small business owner doesn’t want to be seen as an asshole, he shouldn’t be an asshole. But if he’s going to be one, he needs to man the fuck up and stop pretending he’s Mr. Nice Guy.

  108. Demingite says:

    gypsychk: I completely agree with your statement, “It’s what happens next that matters. I’d like it not to be: weddingdepot.com goes out of business, and child in background of doctored photo isn’t sure where next meal will be coming from.

    We are talking about a real human being here.

    I’m sure this has been one heck of a learning experience for the key individual involved, regarding understanding customers’ perspectives better, and the dangers of faking email ccs (the latter quite possibly a function of understandable panic…brains under severe stress don’t work too well). But has his behavior earned his life being ruined?

    To the webmaster and all commenters, including myself: We have a lot of power here, in this new world. (cf. Time magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year.) I suggest we be careful, and use that power thoughtfully, judiciously, and to good ends.

  109. gypsychk says:

    Let me be clear: I don’t want to see the guy’s business associated until the end of time with this one experience, but that’s up to him. Time’s Me of the Year didn’t do this to him, and Me can’t save him from himself.

    He made a mistake with a customer, which can happen to anyone or any company. But then he chose to argue with a customer who was clearly upset. Things got out of control, he found himself facing a potentially harmful blog entry and BBB complaint, and he decided to publicly fling his body on the pyre instead of stamping the fire out. Dumb. Like, noob fuckwit dumb.

    Shaun: Send the lady her ornament (free, please, including expedited shipping), throw in one of those cute duct tape purses, pen notes of apology (one to Loren, one to Ben) with as much sincerity as you can scare up, wait for the “Update: Weddingdepot.com Not Owned By a Douchebag” post, and consider the cost of the candle, ornament, purse, and shipping some cheap advertising at the global level. Reap rewards and take that cute kid to Disney World.

  110. MikeWas says:

    We are proceeding to evaluate legal actions against the person and those propagating the information.

    Anyone who uses a sentence like this is a douchebag. If he’s a non-lawyer trying to sound like a lawyer by writing like this, then he’s a double-douchebag. With twin nozzles, even.

    What his “evaluation” will find is that libel law simply won’t apply to someone who is merely re-posting actual e-mails he’s received from a company. He might consider going to court anyway because he’s a Double-Douchebag / President / Owner / Customer Service Rep / Lousy Excuse for a Human Being, because he figures that Mr. Consumer can’t afford a lawyer to defend him, but I think he’ll also find that going up against Gawker’s legal team might mean paying Gawker’s legal fees to defend against his douchebaggery.

  111. Sheik says:

    I can’t really understand the defending of a character like this. He has thus far taken no honorable course of action. “We are talking about a real human being here.” Humans have been responsible of some pretty awful events. Yes, we all make mistakes, myself certainly included. But this guy is being a blatant asshole.

    Its also too bad to hear that someone actually took that TIME cover literally, instead of the sorry excuse for lazy reporting that it was.

  112. billhelm says:

    the second result when you enter “shaun larson” into google is already the consumerist tag page for his name.

    Classic!

  113. reeter32792 says:

    if shaun’s o.k with his end of this exchange, then why is he trying to get this post deleted? huh?

  114. homerjay says:

    Lest we not forget that weddingdepot.com is also the owner of kidables.com.

    So if my assumption is correct, and they’re usually not, if you’re looking for tasty children to eat, kidables.com is your one-stop shop.

  115. homerjay says:

    PS: the DIGG article is #3 and Consumerist is currently #7 when googling “Wedding Depot”

  116. dalasv says:

    This guy charges a minimum of $3375 to shoot weddings (which he actually does quite a good job on) so he probably doesn’t need the income from his little Internet business, therefore he probably feels like he doesn’t have to put up with any customer service B.S.

    Hence, he acts like a jerk to his customers.

    I wonder why he even bothers having the website? Greed?

  117. RobUsdin says:

    So – any update?

    –*Rob

  118. CandleMaker101 says:

    Hey Shaun when are you having your going out of business sale? After having read all of the posts I believe you should close your business and change your name. Seems like this couldn’t have happen to a nicer guy!