Can we please stop pretending that “business” owners are smart. They aren’t – just ask Komen. So this happened:
Like many consumers who have had a bad experience, Jen Palmer wrote a review online in 2008 after the Christmas presents her husband ordered from Kleargear.com never arrived. Years later, thanks to her online review, the couple is facing a damaged credit score and a $3,500 fine.
$3,500 fine? How could that happen? Here’s the story:
Nicci Stevens sends in this report from Salt Lake City’s KUTV, which details the actions taken by one company against a dissatisfied purchaser who left a negative review at Ripoff Report.
For Christmas several years ago, Jen Palmer’s husband ordered her a number of trinkets from the website kleargear.com. But for 30 days, Kleargear.com never sent the products so the transaction was automatically cancelled by Paypal, Jen said.
Wanting an explanation, Jen says she tried to call the company but could never reach anyone. So frustrated, she turned to the internet writing a negative review on ripoffreport.com.
“There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being,” it says. And it accuses kleargear.com of having “horrible customer service practices.”
That was the end of it, Jen thought, until three years later when Jen’s husband got an email from Kleargear.com demanding the post be removed or they would be fined.
Kleargear, unfortunately, was not simply bluffing. Up until August 2013 at least (the date of the last crawl by the Internet Archive), Kleargear had this atrocious bit of wording on its “Terms of Sale and Use” page.
In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.
Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.
Wow. Read that again. “In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.”
Not sure they’re looking for fair and honest feedback. And you have to wonder is KlearGear’s Better Business Bureau rating, which jumped from an F to a B, is linked to this clause. Even worse, it appears that this clause didn’t even exist when Jen Palmer wrote her review:
According to the Internet Archive, that clause didn’t exist in 2008, when Jen wrote her review, so there’s no way the company can claim that charge is legitimate, even by its own shady metrics. It actually doesn’t appear until June of 2012, suggesting that its battle to raise its BBB rating wasn’t going as well as it had hoped, but rather than overhaul its customer service, it decided to bill its way back to the top at $3,500 a review.
Sometimes I just love internet justice. KlearGear, in an attempt to silence bad reviews, has succeeded in writing the worst review ever about itself. I believe that’s called Karma.
Tags: Internet Reviews