A couple has been fined $US3,500 and had their credit score dinged after writing a negative review online about an online retailer that never sent them the products they ordered.
The company that charged the fine is Kleargear.com, which sells odd gifts like LED shoelaces and desktop nap pillows, The Consumerist reports via KUTV.
Jen Palmer’s husband had purchased a couple items on the website several years ago and when the order failed to arrive within 30 days, PayPal cancelled the transaction.
Palmer says she tried to contact the company to find out what happened to their order but could never reach anyone. So she vented her frustration by posting a review of the company on RipoffReport.com, in which she accused Kleargear.com of having “horrible customer service practices.”
“There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being,” the review says.
Three years later, Jen’s husband got an email from Kleargear.com demanding that the review be removed within 72 hours or they would be fined $US3,500. It turns out that Kleargear.com’s terms of sale included a non-disparagement clause that prohibits customers from “taking any action that negatively impacts” the company. “
“If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $US3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation,” the clause reads. “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.”
Kleargear.com appears to have removed the clause from its terms of sale within the last couple months but it appeared on the website as recently as August 2013.
Jen Palmer contacted RipoffReport.com to remove the post, but the website told her there is a $US2,000 charge for taking down reviews. When she didn’t pay Kleargear.com the $US3,500 fee within 30 days, the company contacted credit bureaus, which dinged her credit score.
“This is fraud,” Palmer told KUTV. “They’re blackmailing us for telling the truth.”
Business Insider was unable to reach anyone by phone or email at Kleargear.com.
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