February 19, 2019 11:17 pm
Updated: February 21, 2019 8:58 am

Toronto company apologizes for fat remarks, then consumer receives another attack email

WATCH ABOVE: A company that sells grass pee patches for pets is still in the dog house after telling a customer she was fat following a negative review. The story sparked outrage after it was first reported by Global News. As Sean O'Shea reports, the apology may come too late for the online company.

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Scant hours after a company apologized to a customer for a series of fat-shaming remarks, a Toronto woman has received another disparaging message claiming to come from the company.

Pooch Patch, an online business in the GTA that sells boxed pads of real grass where pets can relieve themselves, said it was “investigating” fat-shaming emails sent to Vanessa Gloux in mid-February. 

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“The commentary is not reflective of our values and culture and we are committed to doing better,” said Adam Taylor, founder and CEO of Pooch Patch.

“Looking a little chubs in that profile photo,” was a comment on one email to Gloux signed by Taylor. The email was in response to Gloux’s negative review about Pooch Patch following her unsuccessful attempt to cancel a product order.

READ MORE: More customers allege discrimination at Toronto cat café after Global News report

“He looked at my photos online and said I was chubby,” Gloux told Global News, astonished at the company’s response to her review.

When she told Taylor she was reporting his company to a consumer agency, he responded unconventionally.

“Ooh, so scared Chubby-Wubby, I reported you to Jenny Craig,” the email read, referring to the well-known weight loss company.

READ MORE: How to respond to body-shaming relatives

That wasn’t the only odd attack message coming from the company’s email addresses.

“They called me Fatty McFat-Fat,” she said, a disparaging name she said she had never heard before.

After the Pooch Patch comments were reported by Global News, a storm of online criticisms appeared attacking the company.

The Pooch Patch Instagram page with more than 4,000 followers was flooded with negative reviews. The page was made private by mid-day on Wednesday.

Taylor, a graphic designer who has worked for Toronto Life and the Toronto Star, disabled his LinkedIn account. Earlier, a series of favourable online reviews of Pooch Patch appeared online.

READ MORE: Here’s why fat-shaming only makes things worse, according to scientists

One Global News viewer offered an explanation. A regular customer, she said Taylor emailed her, and possibly others.

VIDEO: Fat jokes follow customer complaints to Toronto dog service company

The customer shared an email from Taylor offering a 50 per cent discount on her next order if she were willing to submit a review about Pooch Patch.

“It would be a huge help for our business and we would be forever in your debt!” wrote Taylor.

Late Wednesday, Gloux received an email through her website that was similar to earlier negative messages about her.

“Hello Fatty McFat-Fat,” the email begins. “I would like to enquire (sic) about working with you regarding our new product line that will include products for chubby pets such as pigs and hippos.”

Gloux could not be certain that the latest email originated with Pooch Patch because it was sent on a form through her personal website. Taylor was sent a copy of the email and subsequently denied the latest email was his.

READ MORE: How to talk to kids about weight — without fat-shaming them

“Absolutely not. And it doesn’t surprise me that someone is doing something like this to Vanessa. This story has brought the very worst out in many people,” said Taylor.

“I have received at least 50 death threats to myself and my family and I have received over 500 incredibly negative emails like the one you have received. This is clearly the work of a troll,” he claimed in an email.

Taylor earlier declined several requests for interviews.

Global News went to a greenhouse he rents in Brampton, Ont. but he was not there.

He was not at home in Bolton, Ont., when a crew tried to locate him.

WATCH: Dec. 8, 2016 — Fat-shaming Santa tells boy to ‘lay off the hamburgers and french fries’

After the original story about fat-shaming comments coming from Pooch Patch, Global News was contacted by several people who said they were formerly friends with Taylor.

They discounted Taylor’s earlier claims that inappropriate emails from the company would have emanated from a customer service company in India.

They said the messages would have come directly from Taylor, who operates the company by himself, except for field work to cut and box the grass.

“We use multiple reps under one signature,” Taylor said in an email to Global News.

“We do this to make the business look small… it was a mistake,” he wrote.

Although apologizing to Gloux for the use of language, a day earlier Taylor was threatening to take legal action if she didn’t convince others to remove negative reviews.

“This is going to give you a CRIMINAL record. Defamation is treated as a CRIME not a civil offence. In other words, you’re in deep s..t,” read an email from Pooch Patch.

A warning letter purporting to come from the company’s “associate lawyer” Alyssa Steiner is attached to the email.  However, Global News has confirmed that no lawyer with that name is licensed to practice law in Ontario.

The attacks and threats against Gloux have left a bad taste with many who had used Pooch Patch previously, including a customer named Evette.

“I have used this company in the past but will never buy again. This is a ‘what not to do’ lesson in customer service and PR and I hope the owner and his wife learn their lesson.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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