For those of you who aren’t familiar with this case, here is a quick refresher. Vodafone India sued Dhaval Valia, a business journalist, over his Facebook status regarding Vodafone’s disputed poor 3G service, which was considered ‘defamatory’ by the company.
It said he had sent unwarranted text messages to Vodafone’s top management, had a heated argument with a female officer and had posted their numbers and contact details on Facebook. Vodafone’s legal agency, India Law Alliance added that Dhaval’s friends also chipped in later, making defamatory statements against the company, leaving no other choice for Vodafone than to send him a legal notice refraining him from making any comments against the company and asking him to remove the defamatory posts within 48 hours.
In reply, Dhaval had mentioned his plans to initiate consumer and criminal cases against the company, questioning the methods Vodafone had used to trace his updates, since he had posted them in a private environment.
After a fortnight, Vodafone India spokesperson stated that it would be withdrawing the legal notice in ‘good faith’. It said:
Vodafone Essar states that the legal notice served to the customer has been withdrawn in good faith. Vodafone Essar would also like to take this opportunity to inform that as a customer obsessed organisation, we have always welcomed critical feedback and suggestions from both direct and social media customers as it helps us to constantly improve ourselves to serve their discerning needs.
Further it, said “We have a strong customer redressal team that looks into the matter and takes prompt action to identify and resolve all the issues to the best of our ability”, pointing out that it had a 2 million strong community on Facebook.
Dhaval Valia, seemed quite happy about this development, however he said he would still consider pursuing the court case against Vodafone India.
“So finally, Vodafone relents. After two long meetings and several calls and SMS and emails with over two weeks one of their very senior management person sent me a mail today early morning stating that they have in “good faith” decided to withdraw the legal notice. However, they cannot concede to paying damages/compensation. I have informed them that I retain my right for a legal recourse.”
What we assumed would be a interesting court case which could set a precedent for other popular brands to start sending legal notices against other microbloggers, turned out to be just a poorly-managed PR debacle.