City Desk

Dupont Pilates Studio Sues Negative Yelp Reviewers

After visiting Dupont Circle's Fuse Pilates, Yelp reviewers Sara W. and Brian C. would probably have given it zero stars—if they could. "The place smelled like mildew," Brian wrote, while Sara complained about the rude staff.

Fuse's owners have hit on a novel way to respond to these comments and one other negative review: They're suing. In a July filing in D.C. Superior Court, Fuse accused an anonymous person or persons of interfering with their business and libeling them through the one star reviews, which were all made in late April or early May and have been removed from the site for violating the terms of service.

"The posts referenced above contain remarkably similar and false descriptions," reads the complaint, which asks for millions in damages—and denies that Fuse smells like mildew.

Fuse's management declined to comment on the lawsuit, but Yelp spokeswoman Kristen Whisenand said the reviews were suspicious because the accounts tied to them didn't have profile pictures or reviews of any other businesses. Whisenand didn't offer details on what terms of service the removed reviews violated.

Still, she says that business owners don't usually sue over reviews. Similarly, Washington food blogger and longtime Yelp reviewer Nicole Oandasan has written more than 200 reviews for the site, but isn't concerned about a lawsuit. "I've never been contacted negatively," she says.

As for Yelp, Whisenand says that they would reveal the pseudonymous users' information under court order, but that they discourage companies from suing reviewers. "We don't think it's a good practice for business owners to be suing their clients," she says.

Pilates photo by Shutterstock

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  • Shevonne

    This move should make more people not want to ever give their studio a try.

  • mighty

    You go Dan Snyder, yoga mogul!

  • Karl

    Any company that sues its customers, I am not going to patronize.

  • J

    They are doing themselves more of a disservice by doing this.

  • Mr T in DC


  • Kathy

    Will I get sued now for saying this business sucks for suing its clients for stating their opinion?

  • Dahna

    As a social marketing and media strategist, I advise clients to respond immediately and with a genuine desire to resolve negative experiences and disputes on social media. Suing clients who give negative reviews doesn't fit well with that strategy. Not bright at all, unless your goal is to permanently damage your business' reputation.

  • Mark M

    In view of Yelp removing the post because they violated Terms of Service, as well as Yelp's spokeswoman Kristen Whisenand saying the reviews "...were suspicious because the accounts tied to them didn't have profile pictures or reviews of any other businesses," shouldn't a more accurate title for this article be 'Dupont Pilates Studio Sues Fraudulent/Spam/Fake Yelp Reviewers?

  • itsmymoney

    If Yelp received user ratings, they would not get a good rating from me. I find them to be biased in the reviews they allow to be posted. They only post positive reviews about a business and all others filtered. Not a very reliable site to get factual information about a business.

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