Woman Claims Wine Store Owner Called Her A Drug-Addicted Prostitute Online Because Of Bad Yelp Review

In another troubling example of businesses behaving badly and lashing out at customers over negative online reviews, a Chicago woman is suing a wine store owner for posting a fake blog in her name and calling her a drug addict and a prostitute — all because he didn’t like her review on Yelp.

WBBM Newsradio says it started with a Groupon deal for a food and wine pairing class at a place called Bottled Grapes, owned by a wine expert named Krunch. The woman, Cecelia, says the deal didn’t say where the class would be held. She claims she emailed the owner to find out the location, whereupon he called her and said since she hadn’t replied to an earlier email, he’d given her spot in the class away.

Cecelia then posted a one-star review on Yelp, writing:

I never received the email nor a courtesy call to confirm that I was attending, he just gave my seat away. I’m very unhappy with the customer service and like everyone else – it’s very hard to even schedule a class as they are always ‘sold out.’ I’m extremely frustrated and would not recommend anyone buy this in the future.

Then began the rage of Krunch, says the lawsuit. He snapped back on the review, saying he’d sent her and a friend emails nine days before the class, but that they’d ignored them.

“You could have signed up for another class, But instead you decided to Blast me on YELP,” he wrote. “Sorry you felt that way, But it is better because these classes are for ADULTS ONLY and you clearly have shown you’re not one.”

But that’s not all! Cecelia says he pushed things too far by establishing a blog in her name the next day, and emailed it to her, saying, “Now every time a company for a job or someone searches YOU on google they will read my side of the story.”

The lawsuit claims the blog featured a post that said:

Cecelia troubles began when she started Embezzling from her last employer to support her drug addiction. While her treatment in the Cook County jail did little to help her, she is continuing to fight her demons everyday. Now turning to the Oldest profession to gain the funds need to support her habits, she is now trying to turn a new leaf. We wish her well.

Cecelia’s suit claims she suffered severe emotional distress and hired a lawyer who sent Krunch a cease and desist letter. She says Krunch called her lawyer and said he’d take down the blog post if she would remove her bad review of his store on Yelp. As of now, the blog seems to have been removed.

She’s seeking a jury trial, more than 150,000 in compensatory damages, more than $500,000 in punitive damage, court costs and attorney fees, due to defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Previously in businesses behaving badly: Boners BBQ Apologizes For Ridiculing Dissatisfied Customer On Facebook

*Thanks to Mark for the tip!

Lawsuit: Wine Expert Lashed Out At Woman After Bad Yelp Review [WBBM Chicago]

Comments

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  1. Coffee says:

    Hahahaha…she probably has a decent case, given that the guy created a slanderous blog and put his intent in writing. What a maroon.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      I love that word: maroon.

      I was going to call him a pair of clownshoes, personally.

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

        When I see that word, I hear Bugs Bunny’s voice going, “What a maroon!”

      • Amp says:

        Fun fact: Bugs Bunny coined ‘maroon’ as a deliberate mispronunciation of moron, following it up with “ignoranimus.” It’s stuck ever since.

        • pop top says:

          “Fun fact: Bugs Bunny coined ‘maroon’ as a deliberate mispronunciation of moron, following it up with “ignoranimus.” It’s stuck ever since.”

          Seriously? You really explained that to the very poster who used that joke? Come on.

      • Merujo says:

        Hilariously, my high school football team was the Moline Maroons. I know it was a reference to the school colors, but my mind says Looney Tunes, all the way. (Tangent for cartoon animals: we had a nationally-ranked high school wrestler in the 50s named Donald Duck).

        • Coffee says:

          Donald Duck a maroon? I’m surprised Warner Brothers didn’t sue Disney.

        • Syntania says:

          Yay, another Moline Maroon! (class of ’88). And yes, there was this one time I actually put my foot on the big “M” on the floor in front of the front door! hehehe…

    • Caprica Six says:

      Pronounced mo-ron versus mar-roon as in Ma-roon 5 :-)

    • PsychoRaven says:

      Pretty much. You know the lawyer kept his email offering to take it down if she pulled her review. It’s open and shut case I think.

      • PsychoRaven says:

        Opps. Why did I think it was email and not call. Either way with a third party now saying he offered to take it down for her review removal it’s pretty much open and shut.

    • smo0 says:

      YAY FREE MONEY!

    • a354174 says:

      She should have said “and like everyone else”

      How can she speak for everyone else. Does she know everyone else?

      She deserved this.

    • varro says:

      Calling someone a “maroon” in Chicago isn’t an insult – it is the nickname for U of Chicago students and alumni.

      But IAAL, and this looks like a prima facie case of libel. This should settle quickly, and Krunch will learn about the Streissand Effect very expensively.

    • Southern says:

      Wow.. This guy goes out of his way to blast EVERYONE that puts up anything but a 4 or 5 star review..

      Here’s just a few of his “replies to reviews” from: http://www.yelp.com/biz/bottled-grapes-chicago

      Sorry you are having trouble getting into a class I made it easy to get on the “EMAIL ALERTS” and “TEXT ALERTS” that even a caveman can do it. Which might explain why YOU are not on it.

      ———–

      TOO MANY Groupon and Living Social people register, then NEVER SHOW UP, which then they want to re-sign up for another class. Now you may not Have been able to get to the Library to use the Computer and I’m sorry for that . But I send out that email so that I do not waste $$$ on things for guest who never show up.

      SO GROW UP.

      ——————–

      The Cheese and Grapes had you been paying attention, were to munch on while we waited for everyone to show up and also as I explained about the class. They were NOT part of the pairing, it was a nice juster on my part, so you did not go hungry while waiting for the meal. My bad, I should have just let you starve.

      ——————–

      I hope Groupon refunded your money as this class is for “ADULTS”.

      ——————–

      Was an interesting read..

  2. Don't Bother says:

    Then began the rage of Krunch…

    Best thing I’ve read all day.

  3. Rebecca K-S says:

    Jesus, what an idiot. I’m always amazed that people like that manage to start a business. The responses to poor yelp reviews are filled with this kind of insulting, childish nonsense. The best business owners know that the kindest thing customers can do for you is give honest criticism.

    • Rainicorn with baby bats says:

      I bet he’ll think twice before purposefully causing “SEVERE emotional distress!!!” ever again.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      If I was him, I would wonder if the email he sent ever got through… block by spam… or moved to a different folder…

      I would also work on sort of email validation system.

      And base on some one of his review… he’s is offering a cheaper service to groupon and liviing social user…

      I thought the whole point of groupon and liviing social was to get the full service for a discounted price…or I’m missing something

      It doesn’t matter now.

    • Snip says:

      There truly is no such thing as bad publicity. The worst thing that could happen to a business is if nobody ever said anything about it at all.

    • azmountaintroll says:

      There are some people who are self-employed because they’re such assholes that no one else will hire them.

  4. dragonfire81 says:

    Wow that’s all kind of fucked up. What is it about Yelp that brings out the douchebag business owners so much?

    • Amp says:

      I think it’s just the greater visibility of the internet – They were always douchebags, there’s just a larger audience now.

    • ARP says:

      A single bad review and put you in lower rankings on yelp searches. Poor rankings on Yelp can really hurt your business, And the world is full of even more whiny, impetuous customers than business owners. So, I can see the frustration of a business owner that has to deal with a one-star review that says for example:

      “Possibly the WORST costomer service in the neighborhood. The waitress was possibly the dumbest person ever. I was there today after the parade and she gave both me and my friend the customer copy of the bill and expected us to tip her on that when it was a credit card application. It’s like HI MORON! Get a clue and give us the right paper!!! Not gonna lie though, the food was pretty deso for bar food! I really think if I was a guy I would have been better taken care of, but for all girls that are at least an 8+ with their g-friends… I would never recommend it because the waitresses are seriuos a-holes!!!”*

      * Actual review.

      That doesn’t excuse his behavior. He took it too far. But I can see where someone would get riled up by something like this.

    • Jawaka says:

      Its because douche bag customers really hold all the cards on Yelp. A business owner can bend over backwards for a customer but still get an unreserved bad review because of an entitled prick.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        Krunch is that you?

        But seriously, did you read her review – I understand what you are saying but it sounds like she wasn’t in the wrong on this one. You can’t send someone an email and assume they received it – the fact that he didn’t get a response back after she registered should have prompted him to contact them by phone. And did you see the responses he had to some of the other posters – he didn’t handle his responses to any of them correctly. There are bad eggs out there on both sides – both sides need to learn to handle things like this in the correct way and not act like children (but see, companies should try harder so they don’t loose customers, which I am guessing is going to happen for this guy). You don’t ruln someone’s life because they give you a bad review – you address it like an adult and try to improve whatever you can – and you also realize that every other person reading the bad reviews is taking those with a grain of salt too because most people realize that reviewers can lie and be jerks too,

    • poco says:

      It’s not just owners. Yelp brings the Dbags out in force, customers and owners alike. This guy was clearly insane, but I’ve heard examples of psycho customer posts that are just as bad.

  5. Darrone says:

    It’s so easy to see how people get caught up in the individual battle and totally forget about what’s good for their business. Everyone’s gotten into pointless internet fights before, but really, walk away, take 10 deep breaths, and think before you start a blog calling someone a crack whore.

  6. pop top says:

    I want to see the corporate apologists on this site defend the owner’s actions.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      I assume I fall into the class of “corporate apologist”, but there’s a wide gap between what business should be about and what this guy did.

      Also, see my comment (it’s the first one) on the linked “previous business behaving badly” article. It applies here as well:

      http://consumerist.com/2012/01/boners-bbq-apologizes-for-ridiculing-dissatisfied-customer-on-facebook.html

    • Ratty says:

      She was asking for it with that short skirt and those heels.

    • RenegadePlatypus says:

      Corporate apologist? This seems to be more like a little local shop owned by a sole-proprietor …. isn’t this actually the type of business the anti-corporate crowd idealize? “Corporate apologists” would be more likely to say: “See?! This is what happens when you don’t have a board of directors or shareholders to answer to”….

      • Fiona says:

        I do feel sympathy for small business owners who have to deal with shitty customers. Unfortunately this sole proprietor seems to have completely lost it. I bet things would have gone completely differently had his response been something like: “I’m sorry we seem to have gotten our wires crossed. We do value your business. Can we sort something out to our mutual satisfaction?”

    • crispyduck13 says:

      A corporation does not equal a small business.

      As the wife of a small business owner I will continue to call out the dumbass pieces of shit that walk through his door trying to get something for nothing as “shitty customers.” I suppose you’d label me a “corporate apologist.”

      • pop top says:

        Yeah, you’re totally what I’m talking about. Good for you for figuring that out!

        Do I need to add a sarcasm tag to this?

  7. backinpgh says:

    Why does Consumerist sometimes identify the business and sometimes not? Sometimes name names ad sometimes not? I can’t figure this out…

    • Reader101 says:

      I think the names are not redacted when the post links to an article that gives the name.

      It seems they usually [try to] redact location/name of businesses when a reader submits a personal story directly to Consumerist.

      • RenegadePlatypus says:

        Agree w/ this.

      • mobiuschic42 says:

        Double agree, and I’m guessing it’s to protect them from libel charges. If they write something about the Willy’s Wings in West Walton, Wisconsin, and Willy’s decides to sue, then they’re in trouble if their source was uncredible. On the other hand, if the West Walton Watch newspaper reports it, and The Consumerist just reprints what was reported, they’re not liable for libel – they’re just reporting on a report.

        Wacky names and alliteration brought to you by Friday Afternoon.

    • WalterSinister2 says:

      They usually name the company, but not the specific location. The Best Buy in redacted. Redacted is one f’ed up town going by how often businesses there end up on here.

  8. dolemite says:

    You can’t just send 1 email and assume people got it. Typos occur, spam filters occur, etc. You MUST ask for a confirmation response, and if you don’t receive it, you must call them or something. The wine guy is totally in the wrong.

    That said…$650,000 for “emotional distress” over a lame webpage that probably no one saw?

    • Don't Bother says:

      Well, at least Krunch respected her coupon and didn’t charge her an extra dollar. Then shit would have gotten serious.

    • WalterSinister2 says:

      Libel and punitives, damage to reputation, not emotional distress. Emotional distress is a tough one to win on, libel is not in a case like this.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Besides, from what I understand you go for the maximum that a decent lawyer thinks that a sympathetic judge might allow, and then let it be reduced if the judge sees fit, since they will often reduce awards but not increase them over what was sought. But IANAL.

    • longfeltwant says:

      So, just to be clear, all torts are filed for damages far in excess of what the plaintiffs hope to recover. My novice understanding is that lawyers expect 70%-90% less than they sue for.

      So, think more like $65,000. That’s still a lot of money, but this is a clear-cut case of intentional premeditated malicious libel.

    • poco says:

      This was my thought as well. The “customer” in quotes because no money was exchanged, was clearly looking to cash in on this one.

      I’m not apologizing for the business owner, who acted like a child, but better than half a mil in damages? You’ve got to be kidding, right?

    • The Lone Gunman says:

      “That said…$650,000 for “emotional distress” over a lame webpage that probably no one saw?”

      I wonder if it’s been automatically archived somewhere, waiting to be called up in a search.

  9. duncanblackthorne says:

    What a complete asshole. I hope she burys him in court.

  10. juniper says:

    Actually, we ran into the same problem after buying a LivingSocial deal for one of his classes. Every single class was full except for one class we were able to schedule in November… which was canceled with two days’ notice. We’ve yet to be able to reschedule for a non-full class, and the coupon expires in March. We’ve asked for our money back, but I doubt we’re going to get it back. Maybe this lawsuit will help move LivingSocial to do the right thing and refund us? His emails to us (re: the canceled class) were bizarre and incoherent.

    • dolemite says:

      My wife is running into this. I got her a groupon for a spa treatment in a town that is an hour away. The first time they said they couldn’t see her. The next time, she was all set, but they said the person got sick and she’d have to reschedule. The thing expires in like 3 weeks.

      • Portlandia says:

        Translation: You were bumped for a full paying customer.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Pretty much all of these will refund your money if you can’t use it (as opposed to change your mind). They need your trust for you to buy an expensive coupon on a business that might be gone tomorrow.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      I always get a little excited when I see you post here.

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      I hope you get your money back – the yelp reviews from some of the Living Social folks aren’t any better – and his responses are just as nasty.

      I especially like how he (Krunch) mentions in one that the people who aren’t going to the classes through Groupon or Living Social get more food, etc. since there are fewer people in the class. Do they mention on Living Social and Groupon that they aren’t the same as the full price classes?

    • Rachacha says:

      1) Write a bad Yelp review
      2) Wait for the owner of the business to libel you
      3) ???? Actually no, Contact your Lawyer
      4) PROFIT!!!! to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars

      That was a pretty profitable Living Social deal.

  11. juniper says:

    Actually, we ran into the same problem after buying a LivingSocial deal for one of his classes. Every single class was full except for one class we were able to schedule in November… which was canceled with two days’ notice. We’ve yet to be able to reschedule for a non-full class, and the coupon expires in March. We’ve asked for our money back, but I doubt we’re going to get it back. Maybe this lawsuit will help move LivingSocial to do the right thing and refund us? His emails to us (re: the canceled class) were bizarre and incoherent.

  12. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Okay, maybe I should start a simple sort of PR firm that focuses on responses to Yelp reviews.

    “Did someone say something bad about your business on an online review? Call me.”

    And then I’d go to their Yelp page, read the review, and give them advice that goes something like this:

    “Oh no, were your widdo feelings hurt? Was that reviewer being unfair? Oh that’s terrible! Here, have some Big Boy Pants and let’s try to make things right for that person. This was all just a misunderstanding! If we make them happy with your business, they will probably take down that mean, nasty review and give you a nice one instead!”

    … I’d probably fail in a week.

    • cparkin says:

      No that’s basically what you would need to do. There’s lots of blogs and articles our there on how to handle Yelp as a business owner. Yelp even has their own webinars and other online information just for business owners to try to help them understand how to use Yelp to their advantage.

      • ducs says:

        Another catch is that a lot of times, since the owner feels that any attack on the business is a personal insult, the response that comes spewing out comes from the person’s emotional center(s). If the owner is settled down enough to call a PR firm, they’re settled down enough to not need a PR firm.

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      Yeah, but I would work for you because it is a great idea.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Y’know the reverse could also be said of the whiny obnoxious people that leave 1-star reviews over stupid things that business owners often don’t have any control over. Maybe if they learned to pull up their big boy pants things would be different too.

      There are bad eggs on both sides. Don’t try and push the blame solely on business owners.

  13. WalterSinister2 says:

    Wow, that’s libel per se. Falsely imputing criminality to someone means you can’t even argue that it wasn’t damaging, the only questions are “is it false”, “did you write it” and “how hard is the jury going to hit you”. Malice isn’t required for statements against non-public figures on matters of no public interest, but it makes for nice punitives. The statement that it was a deliberate attempt to permanently blacken her reputation is gravy. I’m not even that kind of lawyer and I’m drooling over this case.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      Not only that, but the idiot basically admitted in writing that ruining her was his very goal. Some people are too stupid to be allowed access to the internet. You should never threaten someone general, but to do so in writing is beyond comprehension. This guy probably thinks that email and internet activity is not traceable and that all he has to do is claim that he didn’t do it.

  14. chiieddy says:

    But when you Google search her full name (in the original article) and ‘Chicago’, you do get “her” obituary :)

    http://www.tributes.com/show/Cecilia-Groark-89436285

  15. Skeptic says:

    I’m guessing this guy will lose big time in court. Creating a fake criminal record for the woman and publishing it on the web is a very clear case of libel, but telling her lawyer that he’d take down the libel in exchange for taking down the yelp review may have turned it into criminal extortion as well. It is possible he could be tried in criminal court in addition to the civil suit.

    • BeerFox says:

      Plus, it probably won’t help when he starts screaming at the jury, coating them in flecks of spittle as he bellows about their pathetic little lives.

  16. longfeltwant says:

    I might have sympathy for the wine store owner if the Yelp review had been mean or hyperbolic, but it was quite straight-forward and factual. No blame for the OP; all blame for Krunch.

    PS I hope his nickname is Captain.

    • UberGeek says:

      His name on Yelp was “Krunch K”, so I believe his nickname is Kaptain. Here’s to Bottled Grapes going kaputt.

  17. SmokeyBacon says:

    Wow, I looked at the yelp reviews for this place and this guy is a freak – he is nasty with everyone who posts anything negative about him and it sounds like he is harrassing some of them from the posts that are on there. If I were Cecelia I would be worried about this guy coming after me to be honest – if you look it looks like he even posted her phone number on line at one point. What kind of sicko is this guy.

  18. Jules Noctambule says:

    That wine Shop owner just Loves randomly capitalizing words, Doesn’t he?

  19. RenegadePlatypus says:

    I have been noticing that many businesses who put out these mega-discount coupons to try to bring in new customers, through companies like Groupon or Living Social or Restaurant.com, seem to end up absolutely detesting the customers that use the deals. The consensus from owners and workers often seems to be that the moment they become aware the person will redeem a gift certificate – they assume the person is a cheapskate deadbeat who will try to cheat the establishment, or won’t tip, or is a one-off customer taking advantage. I’m sure mega-discounts do draw the cheapskate crowd, but I’m not surprised to see in this article that a business owner very likely screwed over the Groupon crowd to provide service to those paying full price. After reading some blogs and comments from servers, I almost feel like I need to ensure the server that I *will* be leaving a tip, “I promise”, when handing them a Restaurant.com gift certificate.

    • WalterSinister2 says:

      Easy, hand them the certificate after you finish.

      • RenegadePlatypus says:

        Many of them say “must present prior to ordering”… I don’t know if that’s to give them time to validate it or what.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          It is become some P.O.S. systems require the ticket to be set up different or require a manager override to accept the payment. These things can still be done after you order but can cause some back ups and delays for not only you but for the whole dining floor. (waitress spends 15 minutes re-ringing your check which prevent any other server from using that computer, plus she is now not at her other tables which means they are either being ignored or other servers are picking up the slack which causes a slowdown in their sections.)

          But speaking as a former server and food service manager statistically speaking the folks who use coupons, internet discounts, etc typically tip less, and complain more. Here in Dallas the N. Texas Foodbank sponsors restaurant week(s) once a year. During this time participating 4 and 5 star restaraunts offer a limited menu selection for a set low price. As a consumer this is fantastic. My wife and I get to go out to places we normally wouldn’t/couldn’t afford. As a server it means you are waiting on more people during the night but making less money per person, and often less money overall. In addition these diners are not as familiar with fine dining and need more explanations of food terms, etc. What always got my goat though was the way the discounters dressed. I was waiting tables at a 5 star steak house. We sold the atmosphere almost as much as the food. The couple dressed to the nines who are either splurging on a special occasion, or dining out at a place they love should not have to sit next to billy-bob in his cammo cap with the fish hook on the brim, or his lovely wife/sister Tammy-Faye who is in a mesh tube-top.

          Still as much as I hated restaurant week as a server I still did my best to treat each and every guest like they were visiting royalty. That was my job, no matter how I felt about it that week.

          • RenegadePlatypus says:

            A very thoughtful response! I suppose it is a stigma I will suffer if I choose to do anything on-the-cheap if I am being served by someone who must constantly evaluate and analyze their customers’ generosity signals to determine to whom to provide great service to and who to blow off.

            • RandomHookup says:

              A business should never do this if it will push out their regular customers, but should be prepared for the “bare-minimum” crowd. They can’t be upsold or convinced to come back or expected to tip heavily. They aren’t going to make you much money unless you’ve structured the deal to account for these folks.

              But there is a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy to coupon users well…if you assume they won’t tip well and treat them accordingly, they will live up to your expectations.

          • msbask says:

            Hey, everyone here is always spouting the 15%-20% tip rule. So I guess if my bill is $30 today, then I’ll tip $6. But if it’s $20 tomorrow (because I have a coupon), then I’m tipping $4.

            If you DON’T believe this is right, then explain to me why I tip based on the cost of food at all? It’s no harder to serve a $5 glass of wine than it is to serve a $20 glass of wine, yet I’m supposed to tip more for the $20 glass?

    • Merujo says:

      I imagine a *lot* of folks who take advantage of Groupon-type deals are one-time customers. I don’t have a lot of money, and when a good deal for something fairly practical comes along, I will snag it – the economics of living. It doesn’t necessarily engender any sort of “brand/provider loyalty” in me. It’s just a good deal.

      • RenegadePlatypus says:

        Has it been your experience that Groupon-type deals are for “practical things”? Most of the Groupon deals I’ve seen are for little luxuries, social & entertainment outings, ways to pamper, personal care, etc. The kind of thing that is generally make-or-break in terms of retaining loyalty through outstanding service. Maybe this is why they come to detest the people they draw in from mega-discounts… the customers who will become loyal will do so whether or not they are issued a coupon.

        • Kuri says:

          Well treating people like shit doesn’t help in the slightest.

        • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

          “the customers who will become loyal will do so whether or not they are issued a coupon”

          Only if they know you exist. The coupons could also make new customers aware of your existence, and the deal makes them willing to give you (and unknown quantity to them) willing to give you a try.

      • humphrmi says:

        Having worked in fast food management, I don’t believe that there is any such thing as a “one time customer”, everyone is a potential long term customer, it’s just a matter of how you treat them. In my days of working in the business, you made damn sure that every customer felt special somehow, and every case that required management intervention resulted in compensation to the cutomer commensurate with the issue. You may only have one chance to wow the customer, but that’s one more chance than you have if they don’t come in the door.

        Unfortunately today proprietors tend to take what we used to call the “FYF” approach – Fuck You First. Don’t give the customer any chance to screw you. You’re also ensuring that they’ll be disgusted with your business and never return. Keep churning customers, dedicate all your time to finding new customers rather than keeping the ones you have standing in your store. FYF is like a pyramid scheme, eventually you run out of suckers and lose your investment. That’s what this guy krunch sounds like.

        • Rebecca K-S says:

          I dunno. There are plenty of places whose food I like well enough that I can tell you the number of times I visited the is exactly equal to the number of half off/free meal coupons I’ve received. I received good service, good food… they’re just not places I’m willing to pay full price for.

          • humphrmi says:

            Heh heh, now you’re talking about something completely different. Yeah, we worked hard to make every customer a return customer. But we also couponed relentlessly. The reason? Our competitors. We always had to offer a better deal than them. So that resulted in an endless wave of coupons as each competitor one-upped each other in their offers. Sound familiar? Mind you, this was back in 1982.

            Now, that activity can be seen as “chasing new customers”, yeah. But it wasn’t done at the expense of keeping existing ones. And there were a *few* customers who only bought from us when they had coupons (e.g. if they were hungry and didn’t have a coupon for us, they bought from someone else.) But the competition pretty much ensured that they always had a coupon from us in their hand. And, funny thing, those customers would order more regularly than our customers who didn’t always have coupons.

            I’ll admit that it’s pretty hard to compare the situation here, because Groupons are ostensibly one time coupons, i.e. they don’t get redistributed every week in the newspaper like ours did. But the point was, here he has customers who won’t even bother trying his service again at a discount, because of the bad service they received. Once again, put top customer service first and you’ll have return customers, regardless of coupon status.

        • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

          I can think of a handful of local restaurants that seem to use FYF. After a few times of getting strangely combative responses to tame requests, I generally just think “FY” and spend my money at a place that’s not owned by a crazy person.

          I’m glad the industry recognizes that such a tactic exists. For the uninformed consumer, it’s very strange to encounter.

          I liked friend chicken, but I’ll just eat at [redacted] when I’m in the city where I work, where the staff is actually friendly. I don’t need to deal with Soup Nazi clones at the [redacted] in the city where I live.

          • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

            and by “tame requests”, we’re talking about things like a few more napkins (kids are messy).

            • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

              I think we need to coin the appropriate response to FYF as FYB(ack). Because I’ve had a few places that I vowed never to set foot in again after, for example, being taunted by a manager after asking for clarification of something on the menu.

      • Laughing says:

        Possibly, but rarely true in my case. If I have a good experience after using a Groupon then I DO go back. I’ve done that for fitness classes, restaurants, and more.

  20. heysuburban says:

    Disgusting, amazing, awful.

  21. StarKillerX says:

    So is she a drug addicted prostitute? I ask because if it’s true it’s not defamation. lol!

    Seriously though, this guy is a complete idiot. Putting up the side to slander her is stupid enough, but then emailing her to say “See what I did” takes it to another level of stupidity.

  22. Mike says:

    It’s so easy to be nice. It costs nothing. It wins friends. It makes perfect strangers go out of their way to help you. And it usually makes you more effective.

  23. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    Was the blog post up long enough for Google to cache it? Also, I hope The Consumerist follows up with this one, I would LOVE to hear the outcome.

  24. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Anyone find it interesting that he doesn’t comment on the 4 and 5 star reviews, but feels it necessary to comment on the bad ones? To the point of actually painting himself as a jerk?

  25. Portlandia says:

    Wow, some people are their own worst enemy.

  26. BeerFox says:

    It’s like the guy’s reading the Playbook for the Criminally Incompetent.

    “Let’s see…I’ve got the libelous fake-blog in her name. Email sent, wherein I verify that I created the libelous blog, and did it specifically for the purpose of libel. What’s missing? Oh, right! Making extortion demands directly to her lawyer. How could I forget that?”

    As I said in an earlier comment, I could see this going to trial…and Krunch hurling epithets at the judge and jury.

  27. Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

    [chuckles.] chicago.

  28. heysuburban says:

    I encourage Consumerist readers to check out and, if you’re so inclined, comment on Bottled grapes’ Facebook page, where Krunch appears to be digging himself into an even bigger hole by demonstrating his nastiness & social media ineptitude by tearing into anyone who dares comment on this incident: https://www.facebook.com/BottledGrapes

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      He just can’t admit that he was wrong, can he? He’s actually trying tell people they can’t post on his wall. I think he’s enjoying the publicity.

      • BeerFox says:

        Yeah, it’s amazing to watch.

        Seriously…wine-dude, there’s an actual lawsuit here. That’s probably a good time to clam up, and respond with, “I am unable to comment due to pending litigation” if you absolutely must say something. It’s not the time to double down and toss around additional “Bitch had it *coming*!” comments in public.

  29. awesome anna says:

    Yes, there are much better ways to respond to negative reviews. My friend got one for her salon, what did she do… She looked through her client list trying to match the name and time/date listed so she could contact them. She couldn’t find them, so she responded to the negative review saying she couldn’t find the client in her books, but would be happy to speak to her personally about her experience and offer her a chance to come back for a free service to make up for it. The negative poster never responded… making it look more like a rival salon owner might have done it just to be mean. Pure speculation, but see the difference in how one can respond to a negative review?

  30. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    This guy should go down simply because he can’t figure out how to properly capitalize.

  31. vizsladog says:

    “Your Honor, is it permissible for the jury to award MORE money to the plaintiff?”

  32. Emily says:

    This guy is a lawyer’s dream. It makes me want to go to law school so I can fully appreciate him.

  33. heismanpat says:

    If this guy has a lawyer, he must be banging his head against a cement wall right about now. As recently as a few minutes ago, he was still lambasting the person on the company’s Facebook page (which was 100% open and public for anyone to read and comment on). I pointed out how stupid this was in a post, and I can no longer access the page. Either he finally figured out how the internet works and shut the site down, or he just blocked me from it. Either way…the claimant’s lawyer is probably already counting his money. Not only was he dumb enough to admit to slander in an e-mail, he continues to make the issue worse by attacking the customer on a public internet site. Bad Yelp! reviews are going to be the least of his problems….

    • hmburgers says:

      I always wonder about the “HA! GOT YOU! YOU WROTE IT IN AN EMAIL!” types of evidence… I mean, how difficult would it really be to create a fake email? Seems like it would be pretty straight forward for just about anyone…

      It’s almost like typing a letter, then mailing it to yourself while putting the other as the return address… yeah I suppose it COULD be real… but unless the defendant admits to sending that particular email, or you can some how get a warrant for their computer (AND they haven’t deleted that email), is there really any way to prove that it came from them?

      I think that type of “evidence” can be shot down fairly quickly by someone willing to deny, deny, deny…

      • WalterSinister2 says:

        You would put the plaintiff on the stand to say that it wasn’t fake, and maybe an expert to say that it came from the defendant’s ISP. Remember in civil cases the standard is preponderance of the evidence, 50%+, the jury is more likely to believe that the defendant is lying about having sent the e-mail than that the plaintiff faked it so well as to fool the expert. As for the blog, you can get the records of the ISP to show who made it, if you want more evidence. Seriously, this is less of a problem than you are making it out to be. Otherwise there would never be any point in putting something in writing.

  34. Sad Sam says:

    As a Yelper I am sensitive to the fact that a negative review may impact a small business. As a result, I normally won’t post a super negative review (1 star) unless my efforts to solve the problem, i.e. product or service was not delivered and I can’t resolve through credit card charge back or through direct efforts with business person.

    I can also understand that a negative review may feel like a personal attack on Yelp but if over time you have several good reviews one bad review will generally be ignored by most people who use Yelp.

    On the other hand if you have multiple bad reviews, you should perhaps address whether you have a flaw in your business. I also don’t really understand the businesses who use GroupOn, etc. and then hate on the customers who use these deals. Either you have regular customers who already like you and they are happy to get a deal or you have potential new customers who are trying you out and might come back if they like you or you have people simply looking for a deal and you’ll never see them again (and you chalk that up to the cost of doing biz.)

  35. hmburgers says:

    I’m usually not into the whole lawsuit thing… but in this case I hope she does take “Krunch” before a judge and receives some compensation, I think 650,000 is a bit high… but her legal fees plus $10,000 would be a pretty good sting and hopefully that dumbass learns to keep his trap shut and learn from these situations instead of lashing out like a 3rd grade boy on the school yard…

  36. Geekybiker says:

    When will business owners learn that they just need to sit on their rage and say “Thank you for the feedback!” ? Attacking customers never ends well for the business involved. Who wants to do business with a company that might publicly attack you?

  37. LoneHighlander says:

    If you read through the Yelp comments you’ll find that one of the comments mentions that in all of Google-dom there is only one person who associates themselves with an organisation called “Grand Confrerie de Sommeliers,” or claims a title “International Grand Confrerie Sommelier” and that would be Krunch. It begs the question that if there are 23 others in the world why would not one of them claim that credential publicly (on record)? I’m afraid these shenanigans may invite some scrutiny that this sommelier would have been better off avoiding.

    • AndyfromIL says:

      just googled both “Grand Confrerie Sommelier”, and “International Grand Confrerie Sommelier” and all results are this dude. puffed up, as they say?

  38. TDJ says:

    I hope she takes him to the cleaners. Some people have no business being in business. If he’d gone through as much trouble to make her a happy customer as he did to spread lies about her on the internet, none of this would have happened.

  39. MurderGirl says:

    Not to blame the OP, but who would take a food and wine pairing class from someone named Krunch?

  40. Jerem43 says:

    He claims that he went to Harvard, based on the structure of their email his Harvard email address would be krunchkretschmar@college.harvard.edu.

    Let the spam roll…

  41. Kuri says:

    A good sign of a bad business is them trying to silence critics.

  42. Dr. Shrinker says:

    As of now his Facebook page seems to have vanished. Guess his lawyer finally got through to him…

  43. mcgyver210 says:

    There is something missing from the story, is what he wrote true? Sound like it may be since nothing was said about it being lies or exaturated.

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      All you have to do is go to the Yelp page and see some of the responses to the less favorable reviews that were submitted. Hell, his response to the one in question is still there as far as I know. The fact is, he’s off his rocker. If someone is taking the reviews that seriously, then he needs to step back and re-examine his life.

      He reminds me of the one restaurant owner on Kitchen Nightmares who claimed that his business was being ruined by the Yelp reviews, when there were so many other factors at play ruining it.

  44. veggie says:

    I hope she krunches him in court.

  45. soj4life says:

    She wants almost a million dollars for someone bashing her on-line? She does know that Perez Hilton does the same thing and hasn’t lost a suit over that. The business owner was out of line, but someone is looking for a payday here.

    • msbask says:

      Has Perez Hilton created a website stating that someone is an embezzler, drug addict, ex-con and prostitute? Did he then put in writing that he did it, knowing it wasn’t true, only to ruin someone’s reputation?

      I don’t think so.

    • WalterSinister2 says:

      Perez Hilton talks about celebrities. it is far harder for a celebrity to win a libel or slander case that for a private person to win. A celebrity must prove that the defendant acted with mailice – in this case that means that either they knew it wasn’t true or that they acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

  46. Boo LaRue says:

    People seem to forget the whole premise behind Yelp, and many believe that it is only for glowing reviews of their businesses. I was actually stalked by a business owner masquerading as an innocent, fellow reviewer, because I didn’t enjoy their product and gave a review stating such. The review was in no way inflammatory, it just wasn’t a “man, how I love this place” kind of review. Mine was the first review of the business and, about a day after I got my first message from the owner/reviewer, three other absolutely glowing reviews showed up for the business that just so happened to be in direct opposition of everything I said. I subsequently had to end up blocking the person because they could not get over the fact that I’d left a negative review.

  47. some.nerd says:

    I once wrote a totally valid, coherent and justified 2-star yelp review, only to receive an angry email/reply on Yelp from the store’s owner, who was apparently a bit of a cyber-stalker. It’s things like that that irk me about Yelp. I’m all for a storefront being able to save face when justified, but not at the expense of an honest reviewer’s integrity or sense of security.