To: Attorney Robert B. Sartin, Barrow & Grimm
cc: David Rutkauskas, Chairman & CEO, Beautiful Brands, Inc.
RE: Beautiful Brands discussion at UnhappyFranchisee.com
Dear Mr. Sartin:
The UnhappyFranchisee.com website invites those with opposing viewpoints on particular franchise companies and issues (often franchisors and current or former franchisees) to present their views so that our readers, especially prospective franchisees, can weigh both sides and make more informed decisions.
We believe that more realistic, better-informed franchisees make better franchisees, and help to build stronger, more successful franchise companies.
We are not anti-franchising, and it is our goal to help legitimate companies become better.
While franchisors are often unaccustomed to open dialogue and interacting in a forum that is not under their control, our site actually gives them the opportunity to clear up misconceptions, explain extenuating circumstances, and get credit for initiatives they undertake on behalf of their franchisees.
We understand that there are usually two sides to every story. We give both sides the opportunity to present their case.
We believe that more realistic, better-informed franchisees make better franchisees, and help to build stronger, more successful franchise companies. – Unhappy Franchisee
It has come to our attention that you, on behalf of your client Beautiful Brands, Inc., have sent threatening letters to some of those who commented on our site. We’ve been told that these letters threatened these commenters with potential lawsuits if they did not retract their comments within ten days of receiving the letter.
I wanted to take this opportunity to explain our policies regarding retractions, and also offer you and your client a suggestion for a more beneficial course of action.
We are happy to publish a timely retraction from any commenter who requests it. Several have requested retractions, and we have published two posts this morning indicating which comments have been retracted. You can see them here:
We will continue to post comment retractions from the recipients of your letters as we receive them.
We do not, however, remove or delete comments posted by third parties on our site. This is a common policy among the better blogs for a host of reasons.
However, I would like to extend the offer to you and your client to respond to, clarify, rebut or provide an alternative opinion on any of the statements appearing on UnhappyFranchisee.com, whether they be comments or statements we have made. You and/or your client are free to post directly in the comment section of any of the growing number of posts on Beautiful Brands. If you prefer, you can provide a statement that we can publish as a freestanding post, free of our editorial opinion. I would also be happy to conduct a written interview with Mr. Rutkauskas by sending him a list of questions and publishing his answers verbatim.
I’m sure you’ll agree that sometimes the heavy-handed legal approach is not the best approach. Responding to negative comments in social media is one of those areas. There are many, many complaint sites that have higher search engine power and do not provide as enlightened an approach to rebuttal as ours. There are franchise industry sites with greater reach than ours who love to report on franchisor tactics they perceive as bullying. Believe me, in the blogging world, those perceived as trying to kill open dialogue and free speech on the Internet are usually rewarded with widespread exposure, not the silence they tried to achieve.
My point is, it is better for your client to cease the intimidation tactics and address the issues here, in a friendly forum, rather than elsewhere on the Internet where such dialogue might be more difficult,
I invite your client to provide us with a statement, comments or guest post addressing the published SBA default rate of Camille’s Sidewalk Café franchise owners, of the decline in units, and affirming their commitment to the success of their franchisees and, hopefully, explaining the initiatives they are implementing to ensure the success of their current and future franchisees.
I look forward to your thoughts on these matters.
Also read: BEAUTIFUL BRANDS Franchise Complaints
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH BEAUTIFUL BRANDS, DAVID RUTKAUSKAS, OR THE CAMILLE’S SIDEWALK CAFE FRANCHISE? SHARE A COMMENT BELOW.