The next time you place an order online, make sure you read the fine print. According to KUTV.com, a woman from Utah left a negative review for a business online and was later told she would have to pay a $3,500 fine for posting the review. Otherwise, the company threatened to report a delinquency to the credit bureaus, which would negatively impact her credit score. Well, she didn't pay up and the company did report the delinquency, which caused Jen Palmer and her husband to have trouble when applying for a car loan.
Back in 2008, Palmer's husband purchased some items for her from Kleargear.com. The Palmers never received the items, nor did they ever hear anything from the company, so they had PayPal cancel the transaction and refund their money. Considering that the items were purchased as Christmas gifts, the Palmers were a little ticked off, understandably. Jen Palmer decided to leave a negative review on RipoffReport.com to make other consumers aware of her experience.
"There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being," Palmer's review said. There are also some other reviews on RipoffReport.com that complain of not receiving items, so the Palmers weren't the only ones to have such issues with the company. Fast forward three years--Palmer's husband received an email from Kleargear.com telling him to remove the review or face a fine. According to Kleargear, the Palmers violated a clause in the sale agreement by posting the review:
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. So basically, it doesn't matter how terrible the company's service or product is or whether you even receive the items you purchase--you can't say one negative word about it, or you'll owe the company a pile of money.
The Palmers say they never saw the clause. "This is fraud," Jen Palmer said. "They're blackmailing us for telling the truth."
So, what's next for the Palmers? Now that their credit score is messed up, they're hoping to appeal the delinquency with the credit bureaus. As ludicrous as the delinquency is, they're hoping that they can get it removed, but that isn't guaranteed. Since the Palmers don't have money for a lawyer, they're pretty much on their own unless someone steps up to help them now that their story is out there.
Kleargear .com charges customers $3,500 for bad reviews. Does it need a boycott or something to induce change? http://t.co/ZenHkgAfPQ
— Chuck Baggett (@ChuckBaggett) November 16, 2013
[Image via YouTube]
— brian macdonald (@briansantacruz) November 16, 2013