Say I'm selling at a swap-meet.

A person who, unbeknownst to me, is operating another store in the same area approaches my stall and purchases an item (specifically an old, but still functional laptop), then later demands a refund after removing the screen and hard drive claiming "you said this still worked, but there is no screen or drive." Shortly after providing a picture taken before opening (featuring the device still intact) and then pointing to a plainly-written sign stating "No Refunds," the person proceeds to make a loud fuss in front of my stall for an hour or so.

As another example: Say I'm selling something on ebay.

Another store buys a $100 item and mutilates it upon receipt, then demands a refund claiming "not as described." I refuse the refund and receive a negative review.

I'm tempted to call the behavior in either case "fraud & defamation of character," but I'm not sure if that applies here...

  • The two situations might be treated differently, depending on the jurisdiction. Where (country, state) is this sale taking place? – jimsug Sep 8 '15 at 2:58
  • @jimsug The United States. Let's say California for now. – defube Sep 8 '15 at 2:59
  • The industry term is "business sabotage," are you after a legal term? – Pat W. Sep 8 '15 at 5:02
  • @PatW. Yes. I'm considering hiring a lawyer, and wondering if such a suit would hold up in court. – defube Sep 8 '15 at 6:56
  • Hiring a lawyer? Over matters in the hundreds? I love principles, they make lawyers rich. – Dale M Sep 8 '15 at 9:59

California recognizes the tort of disparagement - a false or misleading statement that (1) specifically refers to the plaintiff's product or business and (2) clearly derogates that product or business. Sue the first guy for this. A summons might shut him up and you can do this in small claims court. Here is a sort of intro published by the state of California.

As for the eBay thing, it's eBay... you sort of ask for that kind of fraud and you could try to use the court but you probably weren't really damaged and you'll be wasting the court's time.

Consider this information about as useful as something you might trade for a busted laptop at a swap shop. It's not advice and if it was it would be bad advice. Both wrongheaded and misdirected.

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