Free Speech Not Free

Consumerist points to a maddening customer service story.
Matthew Ghali created, to share his poor customer experience with Golden Gate Volkswagen, and its owner, Mathew Zaheri.

In May 2003, my fiancee (now my wife) and I took her Jetta to Golden Gate Volkswagen for a few simple repairs.
This experience at Golden Gate Volkswagen turned out to be unpleasant. While the car was at Golden Gate Volkswagen it was damaged, and we believe that we were charged much more for services than we were quoted.

Zaheri then sued Ghali for $1.5 million. I’m not sure what settlement was reached, but Ghali told Consumerist he paid $40k to his lawyers, allowing him to keep the current content on his site in place for all to see.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Since when can a business sue a customer for supposed libel?
    Aren’t customers allowed to voice their opinions?
    Many a customer has gotten free coupons and discounts by threatening the store manager with “I’m going to tell all my friends about your crappy store”

  2. Perhaps Mr Zaheri is trying to tap in to the original spirit of the founding fathers of Volkswagen—you know, the Nazi Party.

  3. Mike Reuter says:

    Just had a horrible experience with this company myself. I agreed to buy a VW touareg and the told me the transfer the car from the there San Francisco (Daily City) to Hayward. I was waiting 2 hours in Hayward and the told me the battery has to be charged and the have to put gasoline in and so on. I told them to call me when the car is there and the called me one hour later. I arrived 20 minutes later and they told me they sold the car to someone else ??? I told him you brought the car over for me and you sold it to someone else ?/ This car was spoken to me ?? They do not care and it is a bad company. Would never buy from them and I am going to file complains at the BBB and VW customer service to record this.