Catina Ei stands behind the counter of Ozzie’s, her premium yogurt and gelato shop in Orcutt, wondering how much longer she can stay in business.
“We were doing perfect, we were doing great”, Ei says about the business she bought back in February, “until May 28.”
Ei says that’s when a young woman came into the shop and ordered a Boba drink to go then came back the next day and claimed she found metal and wire in the bottom of her cup.
“Then I say that’s impossible”, Ei says about the woman’s claim adding she was never shown the cup in question.
Not satisfied with the response from Ei, the woman took her claims to social media and, with a false name of Ashley Daniel, posted her alleged experience several times on sites like Facebook and Yelp.
“She shared it with all the people and said, whatever you know, warning people don’t come to our store and all kinds of things”. Ei says about the online posts.
Despite getting some initial posts taken down, Ei says she was forced to hire an attorney and go to small claims court to get a court order for the woman to stop making the online claims and seek compensation for her lost business.
Ei says the woman never showed up in court to defend herself or her online allegations.
“The judge said okay we cannot make a decision because she is not here, Ashley Daniel, she’s in England”, Ei says about the case.
Catina Ei, a Vietnamese immigrant, says her business has fallen on hard times amid what she says has been a bogus claim from the start that may have been racially motivated.
“They used to come in here, they were regular customers, they come all the time”, Ei says, “then that’s when I see that, I come back and tell my husband, honey, I didn’t do anything wrong, but they look at me like the enemy, you do not belong here, I was so depressed and I told him that.”
Customers in Ozzie’s we spoke with Monday night said it’s unfortunate claims on social media sites, be they valid or not, can make or break a small business like Ozzie’s in Orcutt.
“If somebody has a bad experience, 8 of them (online reviews) are good but 1 of them is bad, okay, there’s always a percentage that’s bad that you can you throw out”, one customer said, “but this place is great, I’m impressed so far, we’ll be back.”