"[I] didn't insult or threaten him in any way or raise my voice," Hosley told AllThingsD. "I simply took control of my own time back from an unwanted interruption."
Johnston's response, according to Hosley, was an email which seemingly threatened to unleash a wave of negative Yelp reviews against Sauce in retaliation for Hosley's ending the call. Hosley posted Johnston's email to Sauce's Facebook page:
I sincerely appreciate you hanging up on me. As a resident of San Francisco for over 25 years, I have a huge network of friends (ages 25-40) that all are extremely active on Yelp as well as other social media. I will gladly let them know how you treated me as well as my feelings about the people who run Sauce.
Hosley also posted his response to Johnston's email, which included nuggets like, "You must be new to cold calling, you might want to develop a thicker skin, or work for a less despised company."
As news of the exchange began to spread, it was reported that Groupon initially suspended Johnston, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed to us yesterday that he has since been let go.
"We can confirm that the individual is no longer a Groupon employee. As a company that has featured more than 500,000 merchants, we take our relationships with every business very seriously and do everything we can to ensure they have a great experience with Groupon. We have personally apologized to the merchant."
This is not the first time a Hayes Valley restaurant's dealings with seemingly shady sales reps have made the news. Back in April, Bai Thong Thai (298 Gough) posted a sign in its window encouraging customers to boycott Yelp, which the restaurant claimed had encouraged it to buy ads in exchange for improving its ratings on the site. Yelp denied the substance of the claim, telling the LA Times "there's no amount of money anyone can pay Yelp to manipulate reviews."
We emailed Johnston in the hopes of getting his side of the story, but have not yet heard back. If that changes, we'll update accordingly.