Big Rapids, MI asked in Consumer Law and Communications Law for Michigan

Q: In Michigan, is it legal to record then publish phone conversation I am a party to without the consent of the other?

I purchased an item from a dealer who misrepresented the item and began lying about that misrepresentation the minute my check was cashed so I began recording conversations with them without their consent. I want to put these recordings in reviews online and give to the corporation/ brand of product to get the deal made right and so other customers won't get duped as I was.

1 Lawyer Answer
Trent Harris
Trent Harris
  • Jackson, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Your question raises a couple different issues, so I'll break it down in parts.

(1) Is it illegal to record the phone call?

No, probably not. A person can record a phone conversation in Michigan, if the person recording the call is a participant in the phone call and the other person is in Michigan too. Consent of the other person isn't required. There are exceptions to this though: if the other person is in another state (Illinois, for example), the other state's law could make recording illegal unless you obtain the other person's permission.

(2) Is it illegal to post the recordings online, or play them for anyone other than the dealership?

Possibly. The person recording the call might be sued for defamation, libel, slander, etc. if he/she publishes contents of the recordings online and misrepresents what the other party said, or what happened. If that puts the dealership in a false light and damages its business reputation, the person who recorded and published the conversations online could find themselves on the receiving end of a costly lawsuit from the dealership.

(3) Is it illegal to play the recordings for a supervisor at the dealership, and use them to try to show the supervisor what happened that was wrong and what needs to be fixed?


(4) What else might a person in the situation you describe do?

A person in the situation you describe might consider making a complaint to the Michigan Secretary of State, Business Licensing and Regulation Division (BLRD) about the dealer. A person in that situation could also consider contacting the Michigan Attorney General's office to make a complaint. As always, this is a response to a hypothetical. Be sure to talk to a qualified attorney regarding your specific situation before taking any action.

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