Maine moving company to pay $125k settlement over social media threats

Company was charged with threatening consumers who left negative reviews

Liberty Bell Thumb Jpg 1674595066A Maine-based moving company with three locations in New Hampshire has agreed to pay the state of Maine $125,000 in fines for threatening consumers who posted negative reviews of their business.

The attorney general of Maine charged that Liberty Bell Moving and Storage tried to contractually block customers from writing negative reviews online and threatened to sue those who did for up to “$2,500 per day” and “lawyer fees upwards of $9,500.” It also said the company “WILL NOT remove the lawsuit even if the reviews are taken down” after a deadline.

The company also warned of a “defamation fee” totaling $1,000 that would be assessed if the negative reviews are left up that would be subject to a 2.5% interest rate compounded daily – which “will essentially double the amount” to $2,000 after 30 days.

Under the settlement, the company agreed to pay $125,000 and stop engaging in a number of business practices, including . using a “misleading email address indicating it was the account of the company’s attorney” that was “used to threaten customers who left negative reviews of the company’s services,” the Maine AG’s office said in a news release.

The company was sued over violations of the federal Consumer Review Fairness Act, Maine’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, and regulations covering businesses that offer interstate moving services.

“It is ironic that a company named for an iconic symbol of freedom would concern itself with violating the free speech and other legally entitled rights of consumers,” Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said in a statement. “I hope this case will remind consumers that no business can require you to waive your right to leave honest reviews of businesses and products.”

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