Maid service owner accused of overcharging customers in retaliation for bad reviews
The owner of two California maid service companies has been charged with overcharging customers as punishment for their negative online reviews of his businesses.
Steve Yojin Yun, the owner of West Coast Maids and California Maids, has been charged with seven counts of identity theft, the Associated Press, L.A. Weekly and City News Service report.
“Customers have a right to express honest views about a company,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a press release (PDF). “Illegally charging customers as retaliation for expressing their views is outrageous.”
The charges stem from an investigation by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs into complaints by customers who had arranged maid services through one of Yun’s companies. Customers who posted negative reviews on Yelp were contacted by a man identifying himself as “Steve,” the office manager, and asked to remove their reviews in exchange for a refund.
Those who refused were allegedly charged again. “Steve” also allegedly threatened to post negative comments about the customers’ own businesses or employers.
One customer told L.A. Weekly she hired one of Yun’s companies to clean her apartment in 2013. When she felt they did a lousy job, she called the company to complain. The company sent another maid, who did another lousy job, she says.
After writing a negative review on Yelp, she said, she got a call from Yun, who offered her a refund if she took down her negative review.
She refused. “I said I wanted to warn other people,” she said.
Yun then wrote a negative review of her company, a cosmetics wholesaler, on Yelp, she said.
The review called her “the absolute worst nightmare of the human race I have ever met,” according to L.A. Weekly. “She is unbelievable, rude, self centered and lacks and (sic) customer service skills whatsoever.”
Yun is scheduled for arraignment later this month. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison and a $7,000 fine.
Updated on May 11, 2020 to remove the customer’s name.