SALT LAKE CITY (CBS Las Vegas) – A Utah woman was billed $3,500 by Kleargear.com because of a negative review she wrote three years ago, reports KUTV-TV.
While Christmas shopping in 2008, Jen Palmer’s husband had ordered a number of items from the web store, but the company never delivered.
Though Paypal automatically canceled the transaction, Jen wanted an explanation.
She tried unsuccessfully to call Kleargear but could never get anyone on the phone.
Frustrated, she turned to ripoffreport.com to warn other internet users about her family’s bad experience.
“There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being,” she wrote. And accused kleargear.com of having “horrible customer service practices.”
And that, she thought, was the end of that.
Fast forward to 2010, when Palmer got an email from Kleargear.
The email demanded she remove the negative post or face a fine.
In the very fine print of the terms of sale on Kleargear.com there is a clause that effectively bans negative feedback.
“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.”
“This is fraud,” Palmer told KUTV-TV. “They’re blackmailing us for telling the truth.”
At first she tried to comply, but Ripoffreport.com wanted $2,000 to remove the post.
Kleargear.com made a charge against the Palmers’ credit reports, which have interfered with their efforts to refinance their home, she says.
A KUTV-TV investigation found that Palmer was not alone in her frustration with Kleargear.com.
“There are many posts in addition to Jen’s on Ripoffreport.com as well as other online consumer complaint boards. In 2010, the company was slapped with an “F rating” by the Better Business Bureau for “not delivering products purchased online in a timely manner,” says the BBB’s website. Kleargear.com today has a “B” rating.”
An attorney tells the station a clause prohibiting negative reviews would probably not hold up in court.
But Jen Palmer is warning internet shoppers to read the fine print before buying anything online.