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Problem competitor

Discussion in 'General Board' started by donton, Aug 18, 2014.

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  1. donton United Kingdom

    donton Active Member

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    Hi guys,

    I was hoping to pick your brains and get some advice regarding a problem competitor. I run an ecommerce business.

    This individual has been trading since before my company. Obviously they've taken my entrance to the niche extremely personally, and have a vendetta against my company.

    A couple of years ago they threatened to "crush" my business if I didn't stop undercutting their prices. They said they could go way lower than me. I took the chance and ignored the message.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and they emailed me again back in June (2014). This time, they accused me of selling products too cheap and said I was destroying the market, and that I was severely limiting choice for consumers. To that end, I must put my prices up to the same level as theirs or they'd report me to the supplier. Again, I didn't bother responding to their message, and sent a copy of it to the supplier for good measure.

    Today, my company receive our first terrible review on Trustpilot. I always like to look at bad reviews objectively in order to put procedures in place to ensure these things don't happen again. When I looked at the order I noticed the address looked familiar. The postal address for this customer is identical to the trading address of the individual's company who has this vendetta against me. The review was fairly defamatory in its nature and I've reported it to Trustpilot.

    Clearly this individual's outbursts are becoming more frequent, and presenting more of a headache to me each time. I wish this person no ill at all, I just want them to leave me and my company alone. For whatever reason they've taken our success very personally, which is obviously regrettable but not really my fault.

    I barely have time to scratch my buttocks any more, I certainly don't have time to deal with this person's attacks. Surely focusing their energy on their business would be much more productive instead of trying to cause trouble for me. The simple fact is, in two of their messages they've tried to blackmail and threaten me into price fixing with them - which is illegal. In the public review they wrote, they've written various defamatory things, and made assertions that are factually incorrect.

    What would be the best way to go about telling this person that I mean business? Engaging a solicitor? I really don't know.

    I hope someone can help, thank you in advance!
     
  2. Domain Forum

    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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    articles.co.uk
     
  3. Adam H

    Adam H Well-Known Member Exclusive Member

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    Id certainly see what the solicitor would have to say about all this especially if you have all the conversations saved, i would say you've certainly done the right thing by ignoring getting in a debate with them.

    The guy is obviously not someone you can reason with so you either take the professional approach and seek legal advice or if that doesnt get you anywhere maybe think about fighting fire with fire, maybe a bit of reputation management on their site will keep them busy enough to leave the competition alone.
     
  4. grantw United Kingdom

    grantw Well-Known Member

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    I'd definitely see a solicitor, most will give you a free consultation to discuss the issue and your options.

    Grant
     
  5. jasman United Kingdom

    jasman Active Member

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    If you choose to see a solicitor, have a general idea about what actions you might want to take first. Try and think through the various options and outcomes and note down any questions.

    Many solicitors want to make a big meal out of a dispute to create a load of work for themselves as their priority is to enrich themselves, not solve your problem as quickly and effortlessly as possible. But often a quick, simple approach could solve the issue without a big transfer of wealth from you to the solicitor.

    So I would make sure you are in the driving seat and treat the solicitor as an advisor to you, rather than handing the problem over to them and letting them take the lead. Perhaps a quick meeting with a solicitor to confirm the position, answer your questions and a follow-up threatening letter from the solicitor would stop the troublemaker at a cost to you of low £xxx.

    Alternatively, if a solicitor is willing to work on a no-win, no fee basis it might be worth taking the troublemaker to court, as although the solicitor would probably end up keeping most of the compensation, it would cost you nothing and deal a costly blow to the troublemaker.
     
  6. donton United Kingdom

    donton Active Member

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    Thanks for the replies, some great advice there. I really appreciate it.

    Is this the kind of thing you go to a local solicitors with, or a specialist internet lawyer? Sorry for my naiveté, but I've never really had to deal with anything like this before.
     
  7. Adam H

    Adam H Well-Known Member Exclusive Member

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    Many Solicitors ive spoken to in the past havent got a clue what im talking about if its an online venture and have to go off and research what they can do, straight away that generally tells me im going to pay over the odds for someone which has to research what i probably already knew.

    One Internet Solicitor ive spoke to in the past called Adam Taylor ( adlex solicitors ) was very kind to offer some advise over the phone, although i never had the need to use his services in the end ( thank god ) if i did in the future i would go to him first.
     
  8. Retired_Member38

    Retired_Member38 Banned

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    Adlex charge £250 an hour.

    In Dontons situation, if he goes down the legal route and hires them its likely there are going to be two winners - Adlex, and whatever solicitor the other side hires.

    I'd try and solve it without going legal if you can.

    I used Adlex before over a dispute with another affiliate. It got the job sorted but left me £500 out of pocket that I couldn't claim back from anyone else. I had tried and failed to sort it myself... it seemed it needed the threat from an expensive solicitor before the other party thought hey he's serious here, I better stop what I'm doing.

    But many many other issues I've got rid of myself before having to do that. It would usually make sense for the legal option, to be your last resort.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  9. donton United Kingdom

    donton Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice!

    I don't really want to contact this individual myself for various reasons, so I think I will have to go down the legal route. The person I need to talk to is out of the office until Tuesday, so I'll have to discuss it with them next week.

    Obviously I'd rather not pay £250 an hour, but if it shocks the individual into leaving me alone, then it will be money well spent.

    Thank you again for all of your thoughts and advice - both in this thread and via PM - I really appreciate it.
     
  10. Retired_Member38

    Retired_Member38 Banned

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    you could just use a local solicitors free consultation to ask them how much to write a letter telling them to stop what they're doing. Might only be £100 or so?
     
  11. donton United Kingdom

    donton Active Member

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    Good idea. I've never really dealt with solicitors in the past, but a friend works for a large local law firm so I'll ask them to introduce me - hopefully they'll be a bit cheaper than £250/hour.

    Thanks again :)
     
  12. bluerock United Kingdom

    bluerock Well-Known Member Full Member

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    I did it once to recover some money and it was the best £450 Ive ever spent.
    Although the solicitors fee is lost it gave me more in satisfaction.

    This problem just wont go away and its better nipping it in the bud now rather than escalating. Also if the other party is a ltd get a credit check on them to see if you are making a dent in their finances.;)
     
  13. Retired_Member38

    Retired_Member38 Banned

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    If they are posting fraudulent reviews/breaking the law they won't be able to hide behind a ltd company - you could easily take action against both the ltd company and the individual personally.
     
  14. bluerock United Kingdom

    bluerock Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Im not saying they can hide as they obviously can't. It would however be nice to know how the price war is affecting their turnover etc. You would obviously go after the individual and the company.
     
  15. killaclown United Kingdom

    killaclown Active Member

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    Unsure if trustpilot lets replying, if they do, reply by asking them to contact you ( to check it they are a real customer)., but also state you believe its a competitor company & report it. a client of mine used to get them all the time on google reviews. I got them all removed. all said basically the same thing, and the names they used didnt tally up with my clients records. good luck
     
  16. devilsrefugee

    devilsrefugee Active Member

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    I would advise to keep any evidence. Screenshots, messages, absolutely anything that shows this guy is being a nuisance and trying to tarnish your business!

    Good luck mate.
     
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