NOTRE-DAME-DE-GRACE – Sarah Macdonald is a 24-year-old Lasalle College student.
Three years ago, she purchased laser hair removal coupons on Team Buy for Ideal Body Clinic.
For $199 she was entitled to one year of unlimited laser hair removal – an estimated $2,500 value.
But after eight treatments at the Ideal Body’s Monkland location, Macdonald wasn’t satisfied with the results.
So Macdonald did what many people do, she reviewed it online.
Since Macdonald’s original post on Yelp in 2013, she has updated the the post twice.
Ideal Body and Macdonald have gone back and forth over the phone and in private messages, after the company complained about her negative reviews.
Finally, this past August, Macdonald received a letter from Ideal Body threatening to sue for $14,000 if she didn’t remove the review.
When she didn’t respond, they sent her a second letter earlier this month.
Macdonald says she feels intimidated.
“There is also a worry,” she said. “I mean its $14,000. I’m a student, it’s not chump change, its money that has to come from somewhere. So it does affect me.”
But Ideal Body says the review is also affecting them.
“Potential clients who booked an appointment and then called us and cancelled the appointment because they said that they saw that negative review,” said Veronika Oganezova, one of the owners of Ideal Body Clinic.
The company says clients are allowed to review their services and express their opinion, but they cannot make up false allegations.
“What she did is, she took the facts, she misinterpreted them, posted them online, using rude and inappropriate language in that manner,” said Oganezova.
Jonathan Franklin is a commercial lawyer, with experience in commercial libel and damage cases.
He says if a person wants to review a company, they have to stick to the facts.
“The person has to be truthful and not exaggerate their experience,” he said.
Franklin said there will inevitably be unhappy customers and if a merchant is faced with a negative review, they should try to respond to the reviewer in a positive way.
If not, the company can take legal action.
“The general rule in Quebec is three years to sue for damages,” said Franklin. “So if there’s a direct loss of business, which is not easy to prove, a lawsuit can be taken for damages.”
Ideal Body says if Macdonald doesn’t take down her review, the next step is to take her to court.