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'USELESS F**K' Vodafone customer who was told he had 'stinking attitude' awarded €6k for defamation

'I felt like a criminal” Mr McKay told his counsel. “I considered what was the best thing I could do and walked slowly out of the shop and went home'

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A chartered surveyor, who was told he had a stinking attitude and asked to leave a mobile phone shop, has won damages for defamation against Vodafone.

Judge Cormac Quinn said a Vodafone manager’s statement that he would have Robert McKay removed by security if he didn’t leave the shop immediately would have suggested to bystanders that he was a man of bad character and untrustworthy.

Vodafone manager, Mark Mooney had told the court that McKay of Blackbourne Square, Rathfarnam Gate, Dublin 14 had told him: “You are a useless f**k and you don’t know how to do your job” having stormed into the shop and demanded that a Vodafone employee fix his phone immediately.

Barrister Eugene Hill, who appeared with Brady Kilroy Solicitors, said Mr McKay (63) had visited the Vodafone shop in Nutgrove Shopping Centre on the suggestion of the company to resolve an issue relating to his phone.

He would tell the court certain defamatory statements had been said about him by shop staff, escalating what should have been a standard customer issue to a personal attack on him.

McKay said he had been a Vodafone customer for about 24 years and had visited the shop on July 23, 2019 for help in switching service provider. When he outlined the problem a member of staff had said to him “What do you expect us to do about it.”

He said the staff member had addressed him in a very rude manner, stating out loud: “You have a stinking attitude and if you come in here with a stinking attitude you are going to be treated with a stinking attitude.”

Mr McKay said he had been shocked and a short time later the manager Mark Mooney came out from behind the counter and told him: “If you don’t leave this shop I am going to call security.”

He had asked Mooney what his name was and he had refused to say. Mooney had stormed out of the shop and he, McKay, had presumed he was on his way to get security.

“I felt like a criminal” Mr McKay told his counsel. “I considered what was the best thing I could do and walked slowly out of the shop and went home”.

McKay said the small Vodafone shop was in an aisle in the shopping centre and was open at both ends. Other shoppers had been coming and going and he felt they would have overheard what had been said.

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The court heard a different version of events from defence witnesses, Mr Mooney and Daniel Furey both of whom had been working in the shop at the time.

According to Mooney, McKay had stormed into the shop and slammed his phone down on the counter before telling Mr Furey to “Fix this now.”

He told the court Mr McKay had become increasingly aggressive and had been asked to lower his tone a number of times before eventually being asked to leave the shop until he had calmed down.

Mooney said he had then left the shop in order to find security and had been told by Mr McKay: “You are a useless fuck and you don’t know how to do your job.”

In response to this, he had told Mr McKay that he had a “stinking attitude” but denied having said the second half of the statement.

Barrister Sinead Drinan, counsel for Vodafone, told the court that the alleged defamatory statement made by Mr Mooney was not only fair, but at the very worst, rude.

Judge Quinn said he was satisfied the statements that Mr McKay had a stinking attitude and the manager would have him removed by security had been defamatory and could potentially have led bystanders to believe that Mr McKay was untrustworthy and of bad character.

He awarded him damages of €6,000.

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