A woman in China who defamed a local photo studio after she was unsatisfied with “fat” pre-wedding photos they took has been ordered by a court to apologise.
On May 14, a local court in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, eastern China, made its decision in the case which soon led to a heated debate on China’s social media platforms.
In March, a woman surnamed Wang paid a Hangzhou photo studio 3,899 yuan (S$803) for a set of pre-wedding pictures. However, according to the court documents, Wang was dissatisfied with the photos she received and took to social media to vent her anger.
“Their photo shooting skills are lame, and you guys don’t go there to take pictures,” Wang wrote in her WeChat Moments.
“The boss is rubbish, with low-level shooting skills, not to mention his service attitude,” she added.
“In the pictures, I looked like a 165-pound fatty,” Wang testified in court. “And their service attitude changed immediately after I paid in full.”
Wang claims that the owner turned down her request for a refund, and said the company ignored her once it had received full payment for the photos.
According to the studio owner, they offered to retake the photos for Wang, but she refused unless the studio replaced the photographer who took the original photos.
Wang then filed a complaint with consumer rights departments after her attempts to get a refund were unsuccessful. However, the studio owner did not attend a mediation hearing.
“I was grounded because of my ‘yellow QR code’,” the owner said, referring to a pandemic prevention measure implemented in mainland China that restricts people’s movement.
Wang, who claimed that the dispute had already pushed her actual wedding date back, did not accept the owner’s explanation, the court documents revealed.
After failing to reach an agreement with Wang, the owner decided to sue her, arguing that the studio’s reputation and that of the company had been damaged by her comments.
During the court hearing, the judge informed Wang that abusive words that are not based on facts can cause reputational damage, even if they are posted on platforms like WeChat Moments that are only visible to the poster’s WeChat friends.
Wang then acknowledged her mistake and agreed to apologise in writing.
People’s reactions after hearing the news were divided.
“Does this mean we can’t give bad reviews in future?” one person asked. “I understand that the studio wanted to protect its reputation, but shouldn’t consumers’ rights be protected as well?”
“I believe the facts are not fully laid out,” wrote another. “She should be invited to show us whether she is only fat in pictures or is truly fat.”
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.