Blackmailed by service for writing bad reviews. New zealand. None, just received the email today after terminating

Expert's Assistant chat
Customer: Blackmailed by service for writing bad reviews
JA: What state is this in? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: New zealand
JA: What steps have been taken so far?
Customer: None, just received the email today after terminating contract with the website builder
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I tried to to cancel the service as the project has not been delivered as promised. I asked for partial refund, and I was refused any money back and threatened if I write bad review or will talk badly about the service provider he will pursue some legal charges
Answered by Chris The Lawyer in 17 mins 1 year ago
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Chris The Lawyer
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Chris The Lawyer
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

Hi
I am a New Zealand lawyer based in Wellington and will help you with your question today. Please give me a minute to read the question

Customer
Hello Chris, thank you
Customer
I would be more than happy to forward two emails that caused this issue
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

If you are unhappy with the services which haave been provided, I suggest that you consider making a claim in the disputes tribunal for a refund of the money. In the tribunal you can raise the issues about the unpleasant emails and threats and they will be helpful and the referee would be interested to read that background

Customer
Hello Chris, thank you for getting in touch with us.
Customer
May I please copy/paste emails here, so I know for certain this will be worth a while and that we have some legal standing?
Customer
They are not long, it will take only a minute
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

You can paste the emails here but delete the names because they can be seen

Customer
Thank you. Will do, just a moment...
Customer
Hello {service provider]
Hope you are well and that you had a nice weekend.
With this message Organics2Botanics Ltd. [Company] would like to terminate collaboration with netBuilders (https://netbuilders.co.nz/) company.
After careful consideration, We [Svatopluk Sevecek and Jana Glanzer representing Organics2Botanics Ltd.] have decided that we need to move this project elsewhere.
It has been 3+ months since we started to build the website and there has been little progress.
We have supplied all necessary information for you to build the website (images, content, shared the company’s vision, market audience, customers shopping behaviour, website’s layout, etc.)
We are just disappointed with the amount of effort and involvement in the project. You have asked to write things down, word by word, but We feel that without our constant input you are not building/designing anything. We spend more time sharing with you what to do and what changes/updates needs to happen rather than enjoying fruits of your work.
We were hoping for website designer work rather than micro-manging every detail and step of this important task.
We lost valuable time, and the project is no near to be finished.
Please allow us to move on with expenses for the overall project.
After reviewing the Invoice INV-4323, please refund Organics2Botanics Ltd. ½ of Invoice’s amount as the project was never completed and services were not fulfilled.
Itemized invoice follows:
• Online catalogue addition to website: 18 out of 25 products in total were added to the website. Charged 705.00 ($28.20/product. $28.20 x 7 = $197.40 Should be refunded in this case)
• Additional products edit in bulk – quantity 20 – ZERO edit. Charged $200.00
• Silver package annual fee web hosting - $490.00. Did not use any, and will not.
• ½ GST 463.50
We believe these costs need to be refunded back to Organics2Botanics Ltd. as services were not need it. There are not additional products, there is no need for web hosting, and you only edit 18 out of 25 products.
Thank you for your understanding, We just need to move on and finish this website/project.
Please remit payment to Organics2Botanics bank account. Account Number: 12-3147-0511845-00
Best Regards,
Customer
Provider's response:Hello [my name]We acknowledge the receipt of your termination letter.We will not refund any money.We have spent more than the initial upfront payment and do not consider it worthwhile disputing each others position.
We are willing to move on and not charge the balance owing, and to provide your UDAI code for domain transfer - as long as there is no dispute or disruptive/negative action toward our business.Where this matter continues in any form of dispute or conflict, we reserve the right to claim fees associated with our time spent, services provided and expenses plus ongoing expense and time required to defend challenge.A short summary of some of the time, services and expenses already provided:Build of Business website (completed)
Addition of ecommerce system (completed)
Partial configuration of ecommerce system (70%)
Addition of 81 products.
Domain transfer and configuration.
Setup of preview access user.
Post process images for website x 2.
Purchase and addition/configuration of Strip component (completed)
3.5 hours meetings (initial meeting + 2 meetings at office).
Administration including phone and email discussion.
Addition and configuration of security software (completed).
Hosting setup with 3 months hosting already provided (monthly fee $49+gst).Please email me back where you wish your UDAI code issued.
Customer
We also have files to show the work that has been done.
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

That looks reasonable from your perspective, but from reading their email I do not believe they are blackmailing you

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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

They also have the UDAI code so you run the risk of losing access to your domain name

Customer
Ok. He is basically saying that "Where this matter continues in any form of dispute or conflict, we reserve the right to claim fees associated with our time spent, services provided and expenses plus ongoing expense and time required to defend challenge."
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

They have that right anyway and appear to be just stating this.

Customer
The UDAI code is my/comapny's property, and so are all our files
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

Do you have the UDAI code?

Customer
What rights do I have?
Customer
I do not have the UDAI code. I called "Crazy Domains" today and they said that he should not have it either as he is not the owner of the domain
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

How much have you spent on the website so far?

Customer
$1,776.75 NZD
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

You would need to reach a compromise to ensure he gives you the UDAI, as otherwise you would need to sue them. How much is needed to complete the website do you know?

Customer
I am going to build the website myself
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

How much do they want you to pay?

Customer
What rights do I have then? He is saying not to day anything bad about the poor business (even thought he made it sound like an elaborate list) otherwise he will sue me?
Customer
They are stating that they will not ask for nay more money. Also saying not to say anything negative about the business/service otherwise they will not give me the UDAI code
Customer
When I sked him how many hours he spent on the project he could not answer that. I sked if it was 20 he said NO, I asked if it was 10 he was quiet...
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

That seems a good compromise. Otherwise you will need to bring a claim in the Disputes Tribunal and ask for the UDAI code in the application. If you make a claim you can criticise them all you want. But a compromise to move on seems a better option

Customer
I would like to have liberty of saying the truth, and I don't understand why should someone balckamiling me about the code
Customer
The code is not their property. They did poor job, and I have the right to say the truth
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Chris The Lawyer, Expert

You certainly can do that, and have a dispute with them and say what you want. Whether it would be worth the time you have to spend on those issues is your choice of course

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