By Jonathan Davies

A couple in the US have been sued by company after leaving them a negative review on Yelp.

In 2013, Matt White from Denver, Colorado, posted a review on the platform following an "absolutely horrible experience" from Footprints Floors.

The review said: “Absolutely horrible experience... I have 4,000 square feet of sandpaper on the floor and Footprints believes there is nothing wrong. I have shoe prints in the stain, dust, debris and filler trapped under my stain... The quality of the work is absolutely deplorable.”

Mr White also Footprints Floors left an unacceptable staircase, mismatched colours and doors that would not open.

Footprints Floors said the review cost it 167 jobs and $625,000 in revenue, and so filed a law suit.

Mr White settled the case for $15,000, saying it would be cheaper than contesting it in court. Including legal fees, he said it cost more than $60,000.

His fiance Amanda Jameer called it an “attack on free speech".

In a statement, Footprints Floors said: "We recently had an experience that I hope to never go through again. One of our customers expressed dissatisfaction with our work. We offered to fix all of the problems. I personally did everything I could to meet his needs. He still wasn’t satisfied and made online comments that, in our view, were not true. After a drawn-out legal process, the case was settled last month when this client ultimately paid us for the floor we installed. This attack hurt our business’s bottom line, yes, but more importantly, it hurt our reputation."

Yelp added: “Businesses that choose to sue their customers to silence them rather than address their comments, often bring additional unwanted attention to the original criticism. We frequently find that a better course of action, rather than suing your customers, is publicly responding to a critical review in the same forum.”

Commenting on the story, Prelini Udayan-Chiechi, Vice president of marketing EMEA at Bazaarvoice, said: "While no brand likes to receive negative feedback or review, any effort to suppress legitimate, lower-rated or negative review content is not only a bad practice, but it’s also a missed opportunity for business owners and brands alike to better understand their customers and deliver the products and services they want."