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  1. #1

    Default Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    My question involves business law in the state of: IL

    I just opened a business about a month ago and a similar business in a neighboring town keeps sending fake customers (spies as I have labelled them) to my store to harass me. The other owner is apparently upset that I've opened up shop selling similar merchandise.

    I know that the customers are fake because I recognize them from the other store (I used to occasionally shop there). They are regular customers of the other business and may even be friends with the owner (unconfirmed, but suspected). I'm guessing they were recruited by the other store's owner to come to my store and make me feel uncomfortable as well as try to discourage my customers from doing business with me.

    The spies' behavior is obvious and juvenile. Every couple of days one or two of them will come in, give me a cold look as I greet them, rumage through my shelves, not buy anything, and then defiantly march out of my store while loudly declaring within earshot of my "real" customers that my store sucks and the other business in the other town is so much better - always making sure to mention the other business by name.

    The spies have also been seen on two occasions loitering in front of my store in the parking lot, passing out flyers for the other store to my customers when they leave mine.

    Is this behavior legal? Is there anything I can do to stop these fake customers/spies from coming in, wasting my time, and openly promoting the other business? Can I legally ban them from my store?

    How about passing out the flyers right in front of my shop? I'm guessing this is legal, but want to ask.

    So far I have responded to this harassment by not responding. I still greet the spies like any other customer and express no emotion when they insult my store as they leave. I stand there like a wooden Indian and refuse to discuss the matter with customers in my store who ask what their problem is.

    Most of my customers have actually been sympathetic to me when the spies try to make me and my store look bad!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
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    16,132

    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    Can I legally ban them from my store?
    You most certainly can.

    Next time they come in, give 'em the boot, and inform them that if they show up again, you'll have them charged with trespassing.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Oklahoma
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    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    You can ban the spies from your store and file trespass complaints if they fail to comply. Check with your local ordinances on handing out flyers, etc. Many cities require you to have a permit to do this. If the parking lot is for your business you can demand that they leave as well or have their vehicles towed.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    Quote Quoting antrc170
    View Post
    You can ban the spies from your store and file trespass complaints if they fail to comply. Check with your local ordinances on handing out flyers, etc. Many cities require you to have a permit to do this. If the parking lot is for your business you can demand that they leave as well or have their vehicles towed.
    When you say "file complaints," do you mean call the cops on them and tell the police that they're trespassing?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Toledo, OH
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    16,132

    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    Yep. Get a report, then take it to the county prosecutor.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    1,995

    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    Quote Quoting Roast Chicken
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    When you say "file complaints," do you mean call the cops on them and tell the police that they're trespassing?
    YES, if you see them again, tell them they are not welcomed at your store, you have marked them down as unwelcomed tresspassers, and if they don't leave, you will call the police.

    I had my own business, two customers got into a shouting match, so I asked them to leave, and both refused. My manager called the police, and the police came by and asked them to leave, and they still refused. So the police asked the manager who the owner is, he pointed to me, and the officer asked me directly what I want him to do, and I said "I want them outta here".

    One customer left, the other refused, so the officer took the handcuffs out, told her "the owner don't want you here, and I have to cuff you, take you down to the station if you don't move". When she heard the cuffs clanging, she scooted out.

    My manager had fun and often joked with me after saying "the owner wants you gone" , and making the motion of taking the cuffs out. So that's actually how it goes down.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,983

    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    If you can gather proof that a competing business is interfering with your relationship with your own customers, that is called "torious interference". That is not a crime, it is a civil matter. You can hire a lawyer and sue them, and potentially collect legal fees as well as damages. It is very expensive, but if you start down the path just a little ways you may scare the other party into halting such nonsense. Pay your lawyer to write a strongly worded letter to the other business owner. Can't hurt.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Midwest
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    2,355

    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    Stick with the "You are not welcome in my establishment and you need to leave now! If you do not leave right now I will have no choice but to call the police to have you removed for trespassing. Furthermore, you are not to ever come back into my store and if you do I will consider it trespassing and act accordingly. Being this is private property, under my care and control, I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone!"

    Then if they return, or any of their cronies, call the Law and have them dealt with.

    A lot cheaper than some sort of frivilous civil action. AND, a bit more expedient too!
    "Stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death.
    There is no appeal and execution is carried out automatically without pity."
    Robert A. Heinlein

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    OH10
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    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    Bubba Jimmy is correct in his assessment. Heck, I was once sued for almost 4.5 million. Boy, was my wife ticked.
    Teach a man to fish, you feed a village. Give a man a fish, the ever growing village demands free fish. We will now spend trillions on social services and SSI for people who don't know how to fish.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fake Customers Sent As Spies by Competing Business

    Thanks for your help, everyone. i will definitely give them the boot the next time they come in.

    I haven't seen the spies in a few days now, so hopefully they're starting to fatigue.

    Thanks!

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