A Utah couple is facing an uphill legal battle after being slapped with a $3,500 fine by an online retailer for posting a negative review of the company years after it failed to ship the products they ordered.So, first, the provision of the contract is illegal, second, it wasn't in force at the time that they made an order, and all the private entities involved, Klear Gear, Ripoff Report (which demanded a large payment to pull the post), and the credit rating agencies ('nuff said), have decided to f%$# the customer.
CNN reported on Friday that John and Jen Palmer’s problems with Klear Gear began in 2008, when John canceled a purchase he made through the company after it failed to deliver his order within 30 days. The Palmers then panned the company in a review on the consumer-complaint site Ripoff Review, saying, in part, that it was impossible to reach someone at Klear Gear by phone.
But earlier this year, Klear Gear contacted the Palmers in writing, saying they violated the company’s “non-disparagement clause” and threatening them with the fine if they did not remove the negative review.
“This is fraud,” Jen Palmer told KUTV-TV. “They’re blackmailing us for telling the truth.”
KUTV also reported that the company’s terms of service stated, “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.”
However, Yahoo News reported that the clause seemingly only went into effect this year, only for the language to be removed from the website.
When Ripoff Report refused to remove the review, Klear Gear contacted major credit agencies and listed the $3,500 fine as a “failure to pay,” hampering the couples’ credit rating. The company told KUTV via email that its request that the Palmers erase their negative comment was “a diligent effort to help them avoid the fine.”
This is what happens when the contracts achieve primacy over basic human rights.
My only suggestion to the Palmers would be four letters, RICO, but I am an engineer, not a lawyer, dammit!*
*I LOVE IT when I get to go all Doctor McCoy!!!